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Charter of Fair Trade Principles
20 July 2011
Article Index
Charter of Fair Trade Principles
Common Vision
Fair Trade Definition
Core Principles
An additional Fair Trade dimension to labour rights
Implementation - distinct approaches to Fair Trade
Fair Trade is unique

Fair  Trade  (
or  "Fairtrade"1)  is,  fundamentally,  a  response  to  the  failure  of conventional trade to deliver sustainable livelihoods and development opportunities to people in the poorest countries of  the world; this is evidenced by the two billion of our fellow citizens who, despite working extremely hard, survive on less than $2 per day. Poverty and hardship limit people's choices while market forces tend to further marginalise and exclude them.  This  makes  them  vulnerable  to  exploitation, whether  as  farmers  and  artisans  in  family-based  production  units  (hereafter "producers") or as hired workers (hereafter "workers") within larger businesses.  

While this raison d'être underlies all Fair Trade initiatives, it is expressed in a diverse range of practical activities and programmes in order to better respond to the particular  needs  and  circumstances  of  the  people  targeted  by  each  initiative. Clearly one mode of operation cannot address all the problems experienced in different product sectors (from coffee to crafts), geographic locations (from Mali to Mexico) or stages of production (from farmer to factory worker).  

Fair Trade therefore aims to be consistent at the level of  principles and values but flexible at the level of  implementation and this presents challenges in defining the concept  in  practical  and  concrete  processes  that  can  be  applied  universally. However, understanding of  the underlying principles of  Fair Trade is crucial, as adoption of  processes in isolation from those principles, risks losing an important element of the overall philosophy that has been developed through experience and dialogue  by  Fair  Trade  Organizations2  over  many  years.  This is analogous to trends in the field of wider corporate social responsibility, where there is increasing acceptance that effective compliance requires genuine commitment. In Fair Trade, it  is  unquestionable  that  effectiveness  is  enhanced  not  just  through  what  an organisation does, but also why and how they do it.  

This  statement  aims  to  provide  a  single  international  reference  point  for  Fair Trade through a concise explanation of  Fair Trade principles and the two main routes by which they are implemented. It is also intended to set the foundations for future dialogue and co-operation among Fair Trade Organizations - and between those organisations and other actors - in order that Fair Trade fully develops its potential to secure greater equity in international trade.   

1 Fairtrade (sic) is used to denote the product certification scheme operated by Fairtrade Labelling Organizations International. 

2 Fair Trade Organizations are organizations of which Fair Trade is part of their mission and constitutes the core of their objectives and activities.  They  are  actively  engaged  in  supporting  producers,  raising  awareness  for  Fair  Trade  and  in campaigning  for  changes  in  the  rules  and  practices  of  ordinary  international  trade.  WFTO is the global network of Fair Trade Organizations.

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