Peasants of the World Need Convention on Peasant Rights
(Geneva) La Via Campesina is pressuring the United Nations Human Rights Commission at its 60 session to give more attention to peasant rights
We, the peasants are the producers of food that feed the peoples of the world. Yet we have been pushed to such dire poverty that we cannot even eat what we produce. World wide, latest estimates indicate that 842 million people live in the condition of chronic, persistent hunger, one-seventh of our human family. Millions of people, including 6 million children under the age of five die each year as result. 50 percent of the hungry and malnourished, worldwide are smallholder peasants and another 22 percent are landless and rural workers.
The land, water and seed belong to us but is occupied by the landlords and the transnational corporations. Under the WTO regime we can no longer have food sovereignty.
The issue of land is the most fundamental and pervasive issue confronting the peasant sector. Everywhere in the world, there are ongoing struggles for land and for genuine agrarian reform. Peasant organizations and peasant movements are advancing in their struggles and for this, we suffer the most brutal forms of violence and repression, not just from despotic landlords but also from our own State apparatus. For example, In Indonesia last month, 6 peasants were killed by the police in the agrarian conflict, in Brazil in the first half of 2003, 31 peasants were killed in the land conflicts by armed forces of big landowners. In India there were more than 10.000 suicides of small farmers all over India in the last two years and many more cases faced by peasants in other countries.
We, the peasants of Via Campesina voice our demands for:
1. The immediate implementation of genuine agrarian reforms which allows the fair distribution of income, access for the poor to land and natural resources which have been appropriated by transnational corporations and the local elite, and for new management models which place human needs before profits.
2. The immediate adoption of the proposal on food sovereignty for the eradication of hunger.
3. International and state entities should develop programs and direct resources to achieve the recuperation of healthy seeds, the revitalization of farmland, the protection of water resources and the use of the organic fertilizers to revive agricultural production and guarantee sustainability.
4. The release of a yearly resolution by the Human Rights
Commission on Human Rights of the Peasant and to pressure governments and other actors which violate peasant rights. During the next years a convention on the rights of the peasants should developed and adopted to respect, protect and fulfill peasant rights.
5. Take the WTO out of agriculture because WTO has violated and destroyed the agricultural world and the food sovereignty.
Globalize Struggle! Globalize Hope!
Via Campesina press conference on April 5, 2004 at UN press room 10.00 – 11.00