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H&M Backs Civil Rights Defenders

H&M has announced a partnership with Civil Rights Defenders (CRD), a Swedish non-profit organization that works to support human rights around the world. The fashion retail giant says it will donate 4 million SEK (~US$609k) to support their work for human rights.

CRD says the support is a welcome addition that will enhance the organization’s long-term commitment to human rights.

“We are delighted that H&M has decided to support us in this way. The donation will allow us to fund our ongoing human rights work and in particular to ensure assistance is available for vulnerable human rights defenders who operate in some of the world’s most repressive states,” says Civil Rights Defenders executive director Robert Hårdh.

CRD strives to defend people’s civil and political rights and to empower human rights defenders at risk. The organization works in some of the world’s most tumultuous regions, in collaboration with local forces to achieve long-term sustainable change. CRD’s work in 2013 includes:

  • working to draw attention to violations against the Roma population in Sweden and in the Balkans
  • organizing an exchange between Burmese and Serbian human rights lawyers in Belgrade, to give Burmese lawyers the opportunity to acquire new tools to assist them with their legal aid work
  • along with the Swedish Burma Committee, helping to distribute a Donald Bergbom and Jonas Gratzer film, Stateless in Their Own Country, which provides insight into the persecution, segregation and violence that Muslim minority group the Rohingya is exposed to on a daily basis.
  • launching the Natalia Project — the world's first global alert system for human rights defenders at risk. During the year, defenders from several different countries and regions were equipped with the alarm system and received training in security.

CRD is supported by approximately 10,000 individual donors and members, along with numerous foundations, trusts and companies, including the Swedish Postcode Lottery and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida). The organisation is a member of the Swedish Fundraising Council (FRII) and monitored by the Swedish Fundraising Control (SFI).

In keeping with this act of support for human rights, in November H&M revealed a roadmap to pay a fair “living wage” to its 850,000 textile workers by 2018, citing that governments were not acting fast enough. While the commitment is an admirable one, some criticized the retailer's announcement for its lack of specificity and five-year timeline for implementation.

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