“When the right to land is in our hands, we see a future which is more just, equal” : La Via Campesina in Geneva

While speaking on Day Three of the fourth session of the intergovernmental working group negotiating for a UN Declaration on the rights of peasants and other people working in rural areas, Henry Saragih of Serikat Petani Indonesia and a pivotal figure in the Rights of Peasants Initiatives of La Via Campesina spoke about the right to land and its links to peasants’ identity and rural economy. 

Here is a full text of his speech. 

Madam Chairperson,

Land for peasants is the first thing that comes to our mind when we talk about agriculture and peasantry. Without land, we cannot be called peasants. Therefore, you cannot separate us from land. The social function of land and the collective rights of land – including water bodies, coastal seas, pastures and forests, the very place that we are depending on for our livelihood – should be our Right and it is not just about access. 

Right to land will also democratize the economy in rural areas. This means that we put peasants and other people working in rural areas as subject, to defend and to develop rural economies. This will also contribute highly to solve the inequality problems, for landless peasants, in Indonesia and Philippines. Unlike the situation that we witness now–as we see that land is largely dominated by corporations, and often used as means of speculation in free market economy.

We are very happy with the inclusion of redistributive agrarian reforms, especially States obligations to carry this out as this is an important aspect of the right to land. As we said earlier, when the right to land is in our hands, we see a future which is more just, equal, and robust rural economies where peasants and other people working in rural areas can contribute more positively to communities, to our life, and to our countries.

Madam Chairperson and delegates, please move forward on the right to land in the draft declaration. We see the future is bright with the right to land with us.

I thank you.

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