“We need peasants’ rights now, not any later!” – chorus growing in Geneva

Since Monday, 15 May, a large delegation of La Via Campesina is attending the working group meeting in Geneva, discussing a UN Declaration to defend the rights of peasants and other people working in rural areas.

On day one, all members of the delegation also took part in a collective action right outside the UN building, echoing an urgent realisation of the UN Declaration. A brief update about the opening day can be found here and a more detailed report here.

Among the delegates who have intervened in the week long negotiations is Al Abudi Ubai Fahmi from UAWC, Palestine. Here is a text of the speech he delivered on 16 May, where he made some general comments on why the UN Declaration is urgent and important. 

Madame Chair-Rapporteur, Delegates of the Council, 

I am From Palestine, where 1500 Palestinian Political prisoners are on their 29th day of hunger strike. I represent UAWC a member of La Via Campasina in Palestine. 

We congratulate you for the setting up a process of the working group for the UN Declaration. This process is very fundamental to address the discrimination against and towards peasants and other people working in rural areas, and to set the world free from hunger and displacement. 

We take this opportunity to restate our determination for this Declaration to be adopted by the International Community. The declaration clearly emphasise on the protection of the land and seed. These Rights are fundamental to the lives of peasants and rural population who feed and contribute to the world. We still remember how food crisis 2007-2008 exposed the neglect faced by peasants agriculture and rural population. The world lived in plenty, even during the crisis, but the domination of market marginalised those contributions. 

Land and seeds are fundamental – but these are subject to competition for speculation. The obligation of the state is absent and the domination of the market replaces the State’s obligation. The UN Draft Declaration set out the obligation of the state on land, as well as recognition of the contribution of peasant agriculture and other rural livelihoods towards global food system. 

Madame Chair-Rapporteur, 

We do not want to delay the process as we still face the challenges of marginalisation, hunger, and poverty. 

I thank you for your efforts and allow me to reiterate this slogan.

We need peasants’ rights now!