Rise to the human rights challenge

Volunteering is an extremely popular thing to do on a gap year. Volunteering gives you hands-on experience in a specific field, whether that’s building an orphanage in Cambodia or coaching sports in Ghana, and it helps us all get to know each other and understand each other, which has to be a good thing. There are lots of volunteering programme providers to choose from - many to be found right here on gapyear.com. There have, however, long been concerns as to just how beneficial all programmes are for the communities in which they take place.  

Tourism Concern - a charity that fights exploitation in tourism - has just launched a new briefing urging the global tourism industry to pay more attention to human rights issues when doing business.

Tricia Barnett, director of Tourism Concern, said: “As one of the world’s largest services industries and a proclaimed driver of sustainable development, the tourism industry must now engage with human rights. This presents new challenges, but also new opportunities.

“Integrating respect for human rights into company policies and activities is not only the ‘right’ thing to do, it makes businesses sense by mitigating risk and ensuring social licence to operate.

“No one wants to go on holiday thinking that they are part of a process that could be abusing human rights. Of course they would never know. Human rights abuses are hidden. Our new report highlights new thinking in this area and seeks to begin a dialogue on how to move forward.”

The challenge was raised at the World Travel Market in London, where thousands of tourism products are bought and sold. People are being challenged, both suppliers and consumers, to ask whether their travels are ethical and whether they’re buying from a company that does enough for human rights.

When you use a travel or volunteering company, do you think of people’s human rights? What do you do to ensure you’re being ethical on your gap year?