Human Rights Council: Towards a better protection of the rights of farmers and peasants

Press release – La Via Campesina

(Geneva, 28 September 2012) It is with great satisfaction that the international peasant’s movement La Via Campesina and its member organization in Switzerland the peasant union Uniterre can announce that the United Nations have decided to better protect the rights of farmers and peasants around the world. Thursday, September 27, 2012, the Human Rights Council adopted a resolution “Promoting the human rights of peasants and others people living in rural areas.”

Through this resolution, the Council recognizes the absolute need for a new international legal instrument that takes the form of a United Nations declaration. It aims to bring together in a single text the specific rights of peasant farmers, women and men, and to integrate new rights such as rights to land, seeds, means of production or information in rural areas.

 After an broad internal process of several years, La Via Campesina started calling in 2008 for the adoption of a Declaration recognizing specific rights of peasants and farmers. This is not only in the interest of farmers alone, but it also responds to a global necessity in the world struggle against hunger, poverty and discrimination. 

The UN Human Rights Council engaged in this process in response to the 2007-2008 food crisis. Noting that 80% of the people suffering from hunger live in rural areas and 50% of them belong to the peasantry – the Council considered that particular attention should be paid to them. By protecting their fundamental rights, it expects to reduce hunger in the world.

The Human Rights Council decided to establish an intergovernmental working group to prepare a draft declaration on the human rights of peasants and other people living in rural areas. It will be based on the draft submitted by the Advisory Committee in March 2012. The first session of the working group will take place in 2013 and will be spread over several years before the adoption of the final text by the Council and the UN General Assembly. Civil society and representatives of peasant organisations are expected to participate actively in this process, another positive point. 

La Via Campesina welcomes the collaboration with some countries from Latin America, Asia and Africa, which made the adoption of this text possible. However, the peasant movement deplores the negative vote of a number of states of the European Union (Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Spain, Italy) and the United States who opposed the establishment of this specific protection of farmers and peasants. These governements, probably under pressure from some powerful lobbies (large economic groups, speculators, agribusiness or extractive industry), did not dare to support their farmers, ignoring the basic rights and the general interest of their own citizen against those economic players who constantly violate the rights of women and men family farmers around the world.

Press Contacts:

Valentina Hemmeler Maiga Uniterre +4179 672 14 07