“Peasants Seeds are the heritage of the people, at the service of humanity” – Via Campesina reminds the UN Human Rights Council

Zainal Arifin Fuat, member of the International Coordination Committee (ICC) of La Via Campesina delivered an intervention, on behalf of the global movement together with CETIM (Centre Europe Tiers Monde), during the 49th session of the Human Rights Council (28 February–1 April 2022). The intervention was delivered under the “Item 3: Interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the right to food”.

Zainal welcomed the reference to the United Nations Declaration on the rights of peasants and other people working in rural areas (UNDROP) and the United Nations Declaration on the rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). He emphasized that these Declarations center on the right to land, seeds, and biodiversity, as well as collective rights anchored in the principle of Food Sovereignty.

The role that women play in selecting, cleaning, and saving seeds is important. La Via Campesina has been strengthening a Global Campaign entitled “Seeds: Heritage of the Peoples at the Service of Humanity” since 2003. A crucial experience of this campaign was that once seeds were given to men and women peasants for conservation, only women returned the seeds in the agreed timeline.

Zainal supported the recommendation by the Special Rapporteur on the right to food, Michael Fakhri to base the national seed systems on the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food (ITPGRFA), the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), the UNDRIP and the UNDROP.

The Special Rapporteur on the right to food, Michael Fakhri prepared and presented to UN HRC 49th session a report on the Seeds, right to life and farmers’ rights. The report provides a framework for the advancement of famers’, indigenous peoples’ and workers’ rights and a guide for States to ensure that the world’s seed systems are biodiverse and safe and fulfil human rights obligations. 

Zainal commended this report by the Special Rapporteur on the right to food. He said that La Via Campesina strongly oppose the privatization of seeds, genetic manipulation, intellectual property, and all forms of appropriation of life. The collective efforts to flourish and protect seeds and biodiversity must be entrusted to the peasants, indigenous peoples, workers, and especially women and youth.

He urged the Council, all States and actors to foster the promotion and the implementation of the UNDROP.

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