Intervention, UN Human Rights Council, 16th session, March 15, 2011

Mr. President,

FIAN International and La Via Campesina would like to commend the Advisory Committee for its two studies on discrimination in the context of the right to food and preliminary study of “The advancement of the rights of peasants and other people working in rural areas” (A/HRC/AC/6/3, recommendation 6/5) presented for the consideration of  the Human Rights Council in its 16th session.. These reports represent a major contribution to address the global food crisis. We are witnessing the record of about 1 billion people worldwide suffering undernourishment; 75 per cent of them are smallholder farmers and landless who depend mainly or partly on agriculture for their livelihoods, but lack sufficient access to productive resources. We are deeply convinced that as a long term measure to overcome hunger it is necessary to better define the needs for specific entitlements of peasants as one of the most vulnerable group to violations of human rights in general and to the right to adequate food; to identify potential gaps in the protection of these rights and entitlements; and to present proposals to address these gaps.

Since its inception in 1986, FIAN has actively investigated land conflicts and supported rural communities in the defense and struggle for their right to adequate food. Given the fact that the great majority of people suffering from hunger lives in rural areas, FIAN has ever since consistently put at the core of its work the defense of the rights of peasants, fisher folks, nomadic pastoralists, rural women and indigenous peoples. Hunger in rural areas will not be overcome unless an integral approach to protect all human rights of the rural population is not applied.

We urge the UN member states, here in the Human Rights Council, for a further cooperation to share views and comments with all relevant United Nations special agencies and programmes, in particular the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations,  and all other relevant actors, on the preliminary study on the advancement of the rights of peasants and other people working in rural areas, so that the Advisory Committee can take them into account in the preparation of the final study to be presented to the Council in its nineteenth session.

One of the basic principles of human rights is combating discrimination. The steady impoverishment and marginalisation of peasants, in many ways, has significantly contributed to the worsening of the current food situation. Peasants and other people working in rural areas ought to be at the very core of any effort aimed at overcoming discrimination in the enjoyment of the right to food. If human rights are to prevail, the international community needs to step up its efforts to increase the protection of the human rights of peasants.

I thank you.