Jakarta Conference: Farmers need a Convention on Peasant Rights!

From June 20-25 in Jakarta, Indonesia hundreds of farmers, men and women from Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America are holding the International Conference on Farmers’ Rights, a campaign that emerged from an initiative of peoples to produce a Declaration of Farmers’ Rights as an extension of the Convention on Human Rights withint the United Nations system.

The objectives of the conference are to strengthen and develop a Declaration on Farmers’ Rights to serve as a tool to monitor violations of human rights particularly among the family farm population and to raise awareness in public opinion on Farmers’ Rights. It was the Asiatic farmers, men and women, who for the past 5 years have been working to formulate the proposal on farmers’ rights, a proposal that has been analyzed and enriched in the different continents. The conference intends to consolidate that work and define a strategy for achieving its approbation.

With the convention on the rights of farmers will come recognition that the majority of the world’s population are farmers, those who produce food and for whom agriculture is their life. It will also encourage recognition that with current agricultural policies pushed by governments, millions of farmers today are being forced to abandon their lands, and peasant and indigenous peoples are also losing their seeds and productive cultures, and that today more than ever before farmers are being criminalized for their struggles for access and control of productive resources, especially land.

The principle contents of the Convention on Farmers’ Rights are the right to a decent living standard, the right to agrarian resources, the right to seeds and to agriculture itself, the right to biological diversity and the right of freedom of association, among others.

During the course of the Conference testimonies of women, farmers and indigenous peoples will be heard concerning the violations being suffered and concerning their struggles to defend their human rights. For the participants “achieving a Convention of Farmers’ Rights will not resolve the problems of the violation of their rights, but will serve as a tool to demand of governments the implementation of policies that guarantee food sovereignty and in that way to win respect for their human rights.” “Many governments say they have the political will to support small-scale family and peasant farming but in practice support agro-exportation oriented production and now production for agrofuels.” “Respect for our human rights means access to land and other productive resources to resolve the food crisis and continue cooling the planet.”

Ramiro Téllez M.
Vía Campesina.