CIW invited to speak in Geneva at United Nations!

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CIW to also address the “Trust Women” Conference in London in first week of December, as the Fair Food Program’s growing reputation for effective human rights protection crosses the Atlantic…

Back in May of this year, a delegation from the United Nations Working Group traveled to Immokalee and met with workers, growers, a buyer and representatives of the CIW and the Fair Food Standards Council in a fact-finding visit to study the unique structure and effectiveness of the Fair Food Program.  Here’s what they said at the time:

“The Working Group was impressed by how such governance gaps relating to labour issues were addressed by the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW), a multi-stakeholder initiative to enhance the working conditions of the largely immigrant workforce in the Florida agricultural sector. The CIW innovatively addresses core worker concerns, relies on market incentives for participating growers, and has an independent and robust enforcement mechanism. To overcome abuses in their industry workers, tomato growers and corporate buyers developed the Fair Food Code of Conduct setting-out minimum standards for workers and pay. We met participants who spoke of the advantages enjoyed by their business operations and workers who related the improvements in working conditions as a consequence of the scheme.

The merits of such a multi-stakeholder scheme are clear and have not required a government role, but the Working Group notes that the ultimate responsibility to ensure that rights are protected remains with the government. Concerted action by stakeholders in the tomato sector in Florida arose from two decades of campaigning even though the government was aware of the risks faced by workers.” read more

This December, the CIW will be traveling to Geneva for the 2013 United Nations Forum on Business and Human Rights at the invitation of the  Working Group, which has asked the CIW and the Fair Food Standards Council to share the Fair Food Program’s successful formula with the 1,000 forum participants from over 85 countries.  Here’s some background on the Forum, from the United Nations website:


The Forum was established by the Human Rights Council and is under the guidance of the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights. The Forum provides a global platform for the promotion and implementation of the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. These Principles, unanimously endorsed in 2011 by the Council, are the first globally accepted standards on the responsibilities of States and businesses for preventing and addressing business-related human rights abuse…

…  Among the participants were people who have been adversely affected by business, many of them from indigenous communities, and business representatives from major multinational corporations in the mining, oil and energy sectors, from technology companies and from the chemicals, banking and finance, electronics, and textile industries.

During the same trip, the CIW will also be a featured speaker at the Trust Women Conference in London.  Laura Germino, Coordinator of the CIW’s Anti-Slavery Campaign, will speak on the Fair Food Program’s approach to achieving the gold standard of slavery prevention in the tomato supply chains of its corporate partners.  For some context, here’s a description of the 2012 Trust Women Conference:

Trust Women Conference is a high-profile conference organized by the Thomson Reuters Foundation and the International Herald Tribune. The conference aims to empower women to know and defend their rights. In 2013, the conference will be held in London on December 3–4.

In 2012, the first edition of the Trust Women Conference gathered over 350 delegates. The event addressed issues including human trafficking, modern-day slavery, child and forced marriage, female genital mutilation and the consequences of the Arab Spring on women. Speakers included two Nobel laureates, Aung San Suu Kyi and Shirin EbadiQueen Noor of Jordan, Oscar winning Sharmeen Obaid ChinoySima Samar and Christy Turlington Burns.

The two conferences in December provide a pair of high level gatherings for the CIW to continue spreading news of the Fair Food Program and its unique effectiveness in protecting human rights in the fields of Florida, in some of the toughest situations anywhere in the world.