“Looking forward to the adoption of a strong UN declaration, capable of protecting the rights of peasants and other people working in rural areas”

Side Event– On the occasion of the 37th session of the Human Rights Council, the Permanent mission of the Plurinational State of Bolivia, La Vía Campesina, CETIM and FIAN International on: “Towards the adoption of the UN Declaration on the rights of peasants and other people working in rural areas : Ways of making the added value of this key instrument a reality for all”  held on March 20, 2018

Thank you Ms. Chair-Person, Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

My name is Zainal Fuat, from the Indonesian Peasant Union (SPI) and from the International Coordinating Committee (ICC) of La Vía Campesina. I hereby speak on behalf of La Vía Campesina, which is the largest international peasant movement bringing together millions of peasants, small and medium size peasants, landless people, rural women and youth, migrants and agricultural workers from around the world.

We have been constructively engaged in the process for the elaboration of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas, also with organizations representing indigenous peoples, pastoralists, fishers and rural workers from around the globe, as well as CETIM, FIAN International and other human rights organizations. We worked hard in favour of this process from the field, from our workplaces around the world but also here in Geneva.

The process towards this Declaration, with all the exchanges, debates, activities, has made the peasants movement grow stronger. Advocating for our fundamental rights, not only in the field but also in the core of the UN human rights system, contributed to increase the prominent knowledge of peasants on the question of human rights and human rights law. This is an important step for the peasants in a whole.

We are happy to see that the ongoing process is advancing and the level of constructive support from the different regions is growing. By this statement we would like to reiterate our willingness to see an even broader support from the States to this process, recognizing the crucial rights stipulated in the Draft declaration. For the purpose of defending these rights, we are looking forward to the adoption of a strong UN declaration, capable to recognize and further protect the rights of peasants’ and other people working in rural areas.

After ten years of intense and constructive negotiations, it is time to finalize the process, because in the face of the global economic crisis, climate change and the decrease of our life conditions, we need our rights now, more than ever. There is a global necessity of feeding a more and more growing population. For this we have to focus on the crucial role of peasants and people living in rural areas, which are the main actors in this field and main providers of food. As a FAO report says, peasantry has a great development potential and is essential for the future of humanity. Moreover, better protection of the rights of peasants and other people working in rural areas will contribute to avoid the migration from rural areas and rural countries to the cities.

What is crucial to understand is that the positives repercussions of this Declaration will be felt not only by peasants and other people working in rural areas, but by humanity as a whole.

For all these reasons, we expect that the negotiations will be concluded during the 5th session of the Working group in April 2018 and that the Declaration will be adopted by the Human Rights Council this year.

We, the peasants, are ready to work hard and take up our responsibilities. We look forward to a more close cooperation among peasants organizations, organizations working for peasants and rural population, UN agencies and mechanisms, representatives of the governments and other  institutions. We reiterate our call to work hand-in-hand, all together, for the adoption of the Declaration this year.

Thank you very much for your attention.