Labor Rights In Focus

Every day, you make scores of decisions that affect the human rights of other people directly. When you eat, dress, or use any of the products that make life in the 21st century possible (like your cell phone), you are connected to the person at the other end of the supply chain who made that product, transported it, sold it at retail, or dealt with the refuse that is also part of our everyday consumption. Labor rights are among the oldest human rights protected under international law. Many people believe that sweatshops are a thing of the past. But abuse of worker rights and labor standards is unfortunately alive and well. We can help ensure work with dignity for the people at the other end of the supply chain, and we can lessen the increasing stress on our shared environment only if we are willing to pay more for products and services made in conformance with labor and environmental standards. The first step is educating ourselves about the rights at stake. The next step is making responsible consumption part of our daily routine. UConn’s HRI is a center of research and teaching excellent on economic rights and responsible consumption; learn more about what we do and how you can be part of it through the Economic and Social Rights Research Group, the President’s Committee on Corporate Social Responsibility ,or the new Engineering and Human Rights Minor available at the University of Connecticut.
—Text composed by Professor Shareen Hertel

In the spirit of the interdisciplinary approach favored by the Human Rights Institute, we have asked four photographers to contribute images that relate directly to the rights of workers across the world:

© Valerie Leonard: “The Messiah” (Sulfur Mines: East Java, Indonesia)

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© Bandia Ribeira: “Flower Pickers” (Daffodil Farm, Ireland)


Kids of Sodom - Elektroschrott in Ghana

© Kai Loeffelbein/Laif/Redux: “The Topography of E-Waste”


© Oriol Clavera: “The Last Mine” (Baix Segre, Catalonia)