Report of UN declaration of peasant rights widely accepted by States and Civil Society Organizations

(21 September 2018, Geneva) La Via Campesina and allies CETIM, FIAN and other organisations are getting closer to achieving a UN Declaration on the rights of peasants and other people working in rural areas.

Today, the Bolivian Mission presented the report of the fifth session of the negotiation in the plenary of the 39th session during the discussion under the agenda item 5 on Human Rights. The reception was very good, showing the ever growing support from all over the world for the UN Declaration. The report showed that the current draft UN Declaration has developed and is mature enough for the adoption in this September session of the UN Human Rights Council.

All those member States of the UN Human Rights Council, which read their statements on the process today, were pushing for the conclusion of the UN Declaration next week, where the 39th session will decide with a resolution. Judging from that statements today, the adoption of the UN Declaration by a consensus rather than a vote would not be impossible, even if we still have to continue pushing for the support of some industrialized countries. No substantial objection was expressed during the general debate.

In general, states interventions were positive, commending the process as being remarkable and transparent, called on other members to support the declaration and conclude the process. The support of the Africa group and Organization for Islam Countries (OIC) was commendable. Portugal committed to concluding the process and asked for the declaration to be approved by consensus. However, some countries were ambivalent in their statements.

La Via Campesina and its allies praise the work done by the Bolivian Mission and the support core countries. The peasant delegates and other supporting NGOs called on the members of the Human Rights Council to adopt the final text and conclude the process in Geneva, in order to continue the adoption of the Declaration at the United Nations General Assembly in New York (UNGA).

Below are selected extracts from statements (in english; spanish and french) presented in the original languages in which they were delivered by countries – members of the HRC and observers, during the Report of the Open-ended intergovernmental working group on a United Nations declaration on the rights of peasants and other people working in rural areas A/HRC/39/67, followed by General debate (agenda item 5):

  • Bolivia delegation (Chair-rapporteur of the Working Group on a United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas): La Declaración reconoce que los hermanos y hermanas que viven en las zonas rurales son iguales en derechos a todos los demás y reconoce que para sobrevivir necesitan del apoyo de todos. La adopción por parte de la Asamblea General del Decenio de la Agricultura Familiar que inicia el 2019, demuestra el interés mundial en favor de este tema. Asimismo, la Declaración está relacionada con varios objetivos de la agenda 2030, en particular la lucha contra el hambre, la pobreza y la discriminación.
  • Togo delegation: “L’adoption de cette déclaration permettra de remédier aux défaillances dans la protection une grande partie de la population mondiale confrontée à une discrimination paradoxale qui ne saurait se justifier. […] Dans ce contexte, il appartient au Conseil des droits de l’homme de prendre des mesures pour protéger, promouvoir et mettre en œuvre les droits de l’homme des paysans et des personnes vivant dans les zones rurales. C’est pourquoi la délégation Togolaise soutient la version finale du projet de déclaration sur les droits des paysans et des personnes vivants dans les zones rurales et invite le conseil à adopter ce projet.”
  • Switzerland delegation: “Nous saluons les efforts déployés par la Présidence pour le bon déroulement de cette session et la manière transparente avec laquelle elle a mené les négociations. La Suisse soutient les droits des paysans et des paysannes, en Suisse et dans le monde entier.”
  • Togo delegation (on behalf of the African Group): “Le Groupe africain appuie le mandat de ce Groupe de travail qui, au cours de ces cinq dernières années de travail intensive, a élaboré la déclaration sur les droits des paysans et des personnes travaillant dans les zones rurales. Ce document ainsi que le sujet qu’il traite sont d’une importance prioritaire pour le Groupe africain, d’autant plus que l’agriculture et l’autonomisation des petites exploitations et de l’agriculture familiale sont essentielles pour libérer le potentiel de développement de l’Afrique. […] Pour terminer, le Groupe africain se félicite de ce que le projet de déclaration sur les droits des paysans et des personnes travaillant dans les zones rurales soit présenté pour adoption à la session en cours. L’adoption de ce document sera une étape importante dans la reconnaissance du rôle important des paysans et des autres personnes travaillant dans les zones rurales.”
  • India delegation: “Before I conclude, my delegation would like to reiterate our support to the draft declaration. The draft declaration is a forward-looking one and is the result of 6 years of long, constructive, inclusive and transparent negotiations, recognising the importance of protecting the rights of the peasants and other people working in rural areas”.
  • Portugal delegation: “We believe that this Declaration, when adopted, will contribute to better support the existence of peasants and rural workers, including women and children, inter alia by raising awareness, in particular of Governments, to the need to fully respecting their human rights without discrimination and on an equal basis with the human rights of all other human beings. […] We hope that this Declaration will be adopted next week by this Council, hopefully by consensus, and that it is further endorsed by the UNGA later this year.”
  • FAO delegation: “FAO has supported the development of the UN Declaration since the Working Group’s inception, participating in several of its opening sessions. The Declaration refers to people who, despite their huge contributions to the fight against hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition, are ranked among those most affected by hunger. […] This UN Declaration on peasants adds to previous UN Declarations and Conventions and help support the respect of their food systems and livelihoods. The real work starts now through the Declaration’s implementation by the UN, state and non-state actors. FAO stands ready to contribute to this end with our knowledge and expertise.”

Via Campesina statements:

  • “This Declaration has the potential to contribute in facing the raising migrant crisis and once adopted, it can help to build more opportunities for young people in rural areas. Moreover, the Declaration would provide us with a necessary tool for contributing effectively to peace and development in our region, as peasant families are in the first line of victims affected by conflicts. We need our countries to stand united for our rights, we believe in you, as your role is important for us. If some states do not allow the adoption per consensus, as we request, and there is a vote, vote YES!” Eastern Europe region.
  • “Time has come for the adoption of the UN Declaration on the rights of peasants and other people working in rural areas. The UN Declaration should extend universal rights to peasants and other people working in rural areas thus filling existing normative gaps in protection. It should also be forward looking to deal with emerging gaps and thus end discriminatory practices affecting peasants and other people working in rural areas. We call on States to unite in order to recognize and further guarantee the realization of the rights of peasants and other people working in rural areas.” Asia region.
  • Estamos ya en la culminacio de este proceso historico, que significa que el sistema de derechos humanos continua siendo democratico y moderno. Moderno porque puede actualizarse en la direccion de ampliar la proteccion de los derechos humanos de los pueblos. Historico en el sentido de avanzar el un sistema de derechos pluricultural que contempla las cosmosvisiones y culturas de los diversos continentos. […] No hay tiempo por dobles discursos. Por eso, en esta session instamos a los Estados a la adopcion urgente y sin dilaciones de la Declaracion.” Latin America region.
  • Calquier abstencion de un miembro de la Union Europea mostraria un apoyo a la globalizacion de los mercados y un rechazo la evolucion de los instrumentos de derechos humanos. Les recuerdo que los derechos incluidos en la declaracion no son nuevos. Se basan en derechos existentes. Los paises del Norte tienen la responsabilidad de proteger a sus campesinas y la de no permitir que intereses economicos destruyan estructuras campesinas de otras regiones.” Western Europe region.
  • Si la Declaration est mise en oeuvre conformement au principe de la responsabilite partagee, c’est a dire pas les Etats eu autres collectivites publiques a l’echelle nationale et internationale et surtout en collaboration etroite avec les paysans, cette Declaration constitue une base solide pour repondre aux defis actuels de la paysannerie en Afrique. A ce titre, ella a un potentiel de prevenir des nombreuses discriminations et violations de leur droits humains, tout en garantissant la souveranite alimentaire, le maintien de la biodiversite et l’endiguement des changements climatiques. Africa region.

The entire session can be consulted in the HRC extranet:

http://webtv.un.org/meetings-events/watch/item5-general-debate-26th-meeting-39th-regular-session-human-rights-council-/5838085010001/?term=

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