The 2022 Geneva Declaration | La Via Campesina | 28 June 2022
We, La Via Campesina – the voice of more than 200 million peasants, indigenous peoples, migrant workers, pastoralists comprising youth and women and counting 182 peasant organizations in 81 countries as our members – are assembled in Geneva, Switzerland – from 11 June 2022 to denounce the destructive neoliberal policies of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) that has decimated rural economies, worsened rural debt and aggravated hunger.
La Via Campesina founded 30 years ago as an internationalist response of the small-scale food producers worldwide to resist the globalization of free-market policies and speculative trade in agriculture and food.
As we predicted, the global crises that confront our world today – namely, the corporate control and concentration in the international food systems; global warming aggravated by industrial farming techniques; large-scale deforestation; the dispossession of rural communities through forceful and violent eviction from territories; criminalization of those who resist; intellectual property claims on peasant seeds; increasing distress-migration from the rural areas; horrid treatment and abuse of agricultural workers and migrants; destruction of biodiversity; proliferation of unhealthy and junk diets; soil destruction due to extensive use of agrochemicals etc – are a result of an unchecked and unregulated expansion of global financial capital, pushed by the troika of the WTO, International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank, through Free Trade Agreements, Investment Treaties, Strategic Economic Partnerships, Structural Adjustment Programmes, Conditional Loans and Aid programmes. These crises, we insist, have a disproportional effect on women and girls who already carry the burden of patriarchy and gender-based violence. All these have also exacerbated socio-economic inequality and hunger in the world.
In June 2022, on the streets of Geneva, we led demonstrations against these destructive policies. Our rallying cry “Free Trade Fuels Hunger, WTO Out of Agriculture” expressed the anguish and anger among small-scale food producers worldwide. It is indeed a matter to cheer that there has been no real breakthrough on contentious issues at the 12th Ministerial Conference, which only points to the continuing irrelevance of the WTO. Our mobilizations in Geneva (and our historic rallies against the WTO since 1999) have made it possible to expose the destructive policies of this institution. In Geneva, where we met after a gap of over two years due to the pandemic restrictions, we also embraced each other in solidarity and unity. We shared inspiring accounts of peasant struggles on all the continents and reaffirmed our commitments to bring food sovereignty to our territories.
Drawing immense energy, hope and enthusiasm from our joint mobilizations in Geneva – and on behalf of our global movement – we call for an overhaul of the current international trade system. Here is how we can build an alternative that reflects and responds to the realities of peasants and indigenous people everywhere.
- The WTO must end! The Agreement on Agriculture should be dismantled and all Free Trade Negotiations should keep out of Agriculture!
- Set in motion a Global Multilateral Framework for Executing International Trade, based on Peoples’ Food Sovereignty principles and per the UN Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas (UNDROP), other human rights instruments, such as the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) as well as several international Conventions and Covenants, etc.
- Nothing about us, without us! The construction of this framework must be through a multilateral inter-governmental working group comprising equal and inclusive representation and participation of social movements and civil society.
- Keep Transnational Corporations, lobbyists, and agenda-driven philanthropic arms out of these discussions and spaces and listen to the people!
- We call upon the governments to exit the WTO, stand on the side of the peasants, agricultural workers, migrants and indigenous people, and create an alliance of progressive countries to advance Food Sovereignty and Peasants’ Rights.
- We call for implementing a Genuine Agrarian Reform and national policies that promote the right to land and a complete and well-coordinated transition into peasant-based-agroecological production practices.
- We call upon governments to build public food stocks procured from peasants and small-scale food producers at a support price that is just, legally guaranteed and viable for the producers.
- Bring strong anti-dumping legislation that is necessary to stop exporters from destroying local markets.
- Forbid the use of agriculture to produce bio-fuel. Food should be an absolute priority over fuel.
We have listed the building blocks of an alternative we urgently seek for our world, and this cannot wait. We cannot wait for the WTO to reform itself and bring all these changes because of its inherent contradictions and apparent conflict of interests.
See the map of our mobilizations around the world
An essential pre-condition for these changes to take root would be the urgent implementation of the Articles of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas (UNDROP).
This month also marks the 50th Session of the UN Human Rights Council (UN HRC). At this Session, La Via Campesina is putting forth concrete demands in making UNDROP a lived reality for our communities;
The implementation of UNDROP is undergoing in many regions and countries through public policies, training, new jurisprudences based on the UNDROP, and different types of actions in the daily lives of rural communities. The implementation must also happen through mainstreaming and monitoring at the international level. In this respect, our movement is advocating for creating a special procedure on the UNDROP. This special procedure will allow for effective implementation, especially UNDROP mainstreaming and monitoring at the global level. At the 50th session of the UN HRC, we have moved a step forward on this objective. La Via Campesina delegates tirelessly advocated with the Member States and other UN bodies in Geneva. We will continue our excellent work and have set the timeline to achieve this creation of the UNDROP special procedure at the UN Human Rights Council session scheduled in March 2023. We call on our members to reach out to their national governments and convince them to send a clear signal to their Missions in Geneva in favour of a special procedure on UNDROP.
We have also advanced on many fronts. La Via Campesina members worldwide have brought UNDROP more to our bases and grassroots at the national and local level with direct actions, formations, and creation of UNDROP popular materials. We will continue our efforts to translate UNDROP and the popular materials into our local languages to understand and increase ownership of this crucial tool of struggle. We call our members, right-holders in rural areas, and our allies to continue to raise awareness and use UNDROP as a tool in their daily fights.
PEASANTS’ RIGHTS, NOW!
FOOD SOVEREIGNTY, NOW!
GLOBALIZE THE STRUGGLE! GLOBALIZE HOPE!
Don’t miss the special coverage we made during the mobilizations in Geneva.
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