One step closer towards a UN Declaration on the rights of peasants

Press release Geneva, May 22, 2017 

“This process has made our movement stronger than ever. After sixteen years of effort and dedication, throughout the world, our communities’ expectations of this Declaration keep rising, expecting our demands to be recognized in the intergovernmental negotiations.”

– Henry Saragih (Via Campesina), in the closing session of the working group 

All last week,  around 70  delegates coming from all continents of La Via Campesina,  fisher-folk, pastoralists, rural workers, indigenous peoples, with other social movements and non-governmental organisations, engaged in discussions with State and UN representatives to negotiate a UN declaration on the rights of peasants and other people working in rural areas.  The recommendations and conclusions presented  by the chair-rapporteur, Mrs. Nardi Suxo, ambassador of Bolivia, at the end of this 4th  Session of discussions in the UN,  emphasized the advance of the negotiations and  the need to finalise the draft in a forthcoming 5th Session of this Open-ended Intergovernmental Working Group (OEIWG). 

La Via Campesina along with FIAN and CETIM (Centre Europe – Tiers Monde) and other strong allies have deepened the commitment between governments, organisations, and various UN agencies for the establishment of the protection and promotion of the rights of peasants and people working in rural areas. 

With these latest negotiations La Via Campesina has reinforced its determination for this declaration to be adopted at the earliest. The world need this declaration, to end poverty and hunger, to make the earth ecologically safe for the next generation and for an equitable food system. Let us not forget the food crisis of 2007-2008, when States participating in a UN mechanism vowed  to not repeat the mistake of outsourcing their obligations to large commercial entities. In fact, it is established in the final study presented by the Advisory Committee of the UN Human Rights Council (A/HRC/19/75) that States should recognize the rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural areas by directly talking to those carrying out agroecological, equitable and sustainable livelihoods. 

The proposed UN Declaration on the rights of peasants and other people working in rural areas discussed  in this Fourth Session of the OEIWG is the fruit of the efforts mobilized for the past several years by La Via Campesina, FIAN and CETIM along with State parties and other civil society organisations. Asserting the rights of peasants and other people working in rural areas in this Declaration is an effort to combat discrimination against peasants and rural populations. In terms of SDGs*, this recognition is a fundamental part to ending hunger and poverty, and developing better equitable rural lives for the benefit of all.

While some States object the institution of rights in this declaration, key articles in the text are well understood and strongly defended by right holders as  fundamental  for the promotion and protection of their rights.

We need urgently the adoption of a  UN Declaration on the rights of peasants and other people working in rural areas. It’s unjustified  to continue postponing this important appointment with the recognition of  rights, the restoration of state obligations, and with equitable ecological rural life as key international standards. The UN Human Rights Council shall bear the responsibility on adopting  the text in the immediate relevant session of the Council. In the meantime , La Via Campesina is strengthening  conversations with members of the UN General Assembly as well as with national human rights institutions in different states. We need the UN Peasants’ Rights Declaration now! 

Spokespersons on this issue: 

·        Henry Saragih (International Coordination Committee La Via Campesina):

·        Geneviève Savigny (Coordination Committee ECVC) :

·        Sandra Moreno Cadena (Sindicato Andaluz de Trabajadores y Trabajadoras del Campo  – ECVC) :

·        Ikhwan Mohamed (Staff supporting Peasants’ Rights Declaration process for La Via Campesina): 

Note to editors: 

* Sustainable Development Goals 

** Members of La Via  Campesina from across the globe were part of the UN Working Group in negotiating a UN Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas. La Via Campesina defended key articles in the declaration. Among others, the articles are about State’s general obligations on right to land, right to seed, right to food  sovereignty, rights of rural women, right to biological diversity, right to decent income and means to production, access to justice, right to natural resources and rights of traditional knowledge. La Via Campesina further advanced the key articles with several interventions by its members on how this text would contribute and should be applied in developing the rights of peasants and other people working in rural areas