In honour of Human Rights Day December 10th, we commemorate the day when the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). It was drafted as “a common standard of achievement for all peoples and nations” and was the first universal statement that all human beings have certain inherent rights that are inalienable. At that time, it was an unprecedented and novel declaration.
Almost three-quarters of a century ahead, we now think of this as a widely accepted, perhaps even unremarkable and axiomatic truth. However, we know that there is much work still to be done. As the famous quote attributed to Martin Luther King goes, “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.” And in this long arc, there are periods of both progress and regression. We live in a world today, where for many groups of people, the vision of inalienable rights and equality is still a faraway dream. From Iran to China, there are millions of people striving to make this dream an everyday, lived reality.
My strongly held view is that human rights must be at the heart of our strategies – in how we govern, lead, and do business. We need to acknowledge the potential we carry to impact the lives and livelihoods of peoples and communities that we touch through our work.
In the last twenty years, I have seen our industry evolve and embrace this vision. These changes have been far-reaching, deep, and meaningful. They have spanned the gamut of operations – from mining to retail. However, there is an urgent need to do more: to accelerate our efforts through collective movement and the work we do with suppliers, employees, and the broader community. In other words, to advance the cause of human rights for all. It is with this unshakeable belief in the power of collaborative effort that the Watch and Jewellery Initiative 2030 was launched.
I feel fortunate and grateful to have the opportunity to spearhead this initiative. For me, the causes have a deep personal resonance. One of the key themes – gender equality – is a cause I am often vocal about and one that has unfortunately regressed in recent times, owing to a perfect storm of macro-economic and world events.
I also recognise that progress comes in fits and starts. Our efforts will not be perfect but as long as we keep our compasses tuned in the right direction, keep the momentum going and stay true to ourselves about how we measure progress, I carry immense hope.
It is with this hope for a better and more just tomorrow that I take this opportunity to launch our quarterly newsletter. We chose this date because we believe that human rights are at the core of our sustainability journeys.
On behalf of my team and our stakeholders, I look forward to working closely with you on our shared objectives.