Rights of Peasants: ending the discrimination against peasants

Session 04Advisory Committee

Item 2 (b) : Right to food. Written statement submitted by CETIM (pronounced by Henry Saragih, President of La Vía Campesina)

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I am Henry Saragih, general-secretary of La Vìa Campesina. I am coming here, on behalf of La Vìa Campesina and the CETIM to congrulate for the works of the Advisory Committee on establishing the groundwork of promotion and protection of rights of peasants. As now come into official report of the Advisory Committee, the peasants rights are fundamental for our world. La Via Campesina is global movement and organisations based in many countries. We have about 200 millions member which participated actively in La Vìa Campesina.

The food crisis shows that the world need to work together in responding that challenge. The victims of food crisis are not only in terms of deprivation, but also of life. Many falls into hunger, acute poverty, and discrimination. The economic system and profit-making of food production are clearly in the picture of the food crisis. As of now, especially in many parts of the world, the food crisis far from over. We still see that profit-taking of food production has been justified by many arguments including those used by transnational corporation. While rethoric of transnational corporation seemed convincing, the stark food shortage and speculation only confirms the fears that their solution mislead many.

The record shows that more than 1 billion people were undernourished worldwide. According to FAO, the Asia and Pacific region had the largest number of hungry people (642 million), followed by sub-Saharan Africa (264 million).

Hunger refers to rural problem where peasants, small landholders, landless workers, fisherfolk, hunters and gatherers who suffer disproportionately. The United Nations Millennium Development Project Task Force on Hunger has shown that 80 percent of the world’s hungry live in rural areas. Some 50 per cent of the world’s hungry are smallholder farmers who depend mainly or partly on agriculture for their livelihoods, but lack sufficient access to productive Furthermore, the food crisis only reaffirm the urgent need of the recognition of fundamental rights of peasants. The abilty of the world to create food sovereignty is very much linked to the mode of life and production that peasants are working on. The various reports of many intergovernmental organisations, independent experts and researchers, analysis of cooperation organisations and state-commissioined report shows the link between the life of peasants with the food situation. Also, La Vìa campesina have many cases and patterns of how food crisis happened, and of how peasants organisations is vital in responding that. The Advisory Committee recognise this in latest report.

By the struggle, peasants organisation earned the long-sought recognition of rights. La Vìa Campesina has been started the recognition of rights in 2002, and adopting the Declaration rights of peasants in the International Conference of Peasants Rights June 2008 in Jakarta, Indonesia and in the La Vìa Campesina General Conference October 2008 in Maputo, Mozambique. Peasants could life and work through their own means and results. La Vìa Campesina run many consulations and engagements with members, government of member states, experts and researchers, and parts of society. Those has been intensifying after the international conference in Jakarta 2008. We go to many parts of the world for this effort, including to Bolivia, Brazil, Mozambique, Thailand, India, Belgium, Spain, Indonesia, Italy including in the session of UN bodies, including joint initiative with the office of the President of the UN General Assembly in discussing “the Global Food Crisis and Right to Food” in April 2009. As of now, we are convinced that the right of peasants is supported and fought by many parts of society and of policymaking fora.

The challenges also lies in how we could reach the best cooperation among actors of international policies. With the recongition of the rights of peasants, the international community recognise the role of peasants in that cooperation. What we could also achieve through cooperation is giving wider opportunities for good practices. Heavily leaning to one mode of cooperation and of policy-making is not helpful for all of us. In this context, I see that the world need more cooperation, and recognition that the problem lies also in the life of peasants. With the report, the Advisory Committee clearly shows the way on responding the recurring food crisis.

With the report of the Advisory Committeee, the high value of this declaration is recognised by UN process. With this, the UN begins to unravel the discrimination against peasants. I warmly thank the Advisory Committee for having the declaration included in the present report. It is very important. This would recognise the past and future process of peasants struggle.

With the report, I also strongly urges the Advisory Committee to hold various and wider consultations, study, and engagements. We believe that the Advisory Committee brings real support to peasants by doing so. What we could achieve with wider involvement is that the present deliberation could brings stronger support to the process already going on in the UN human rights mechanism. With this, there will be wider effort to end hunger and poverty.

I thank you

Geneva, 27th January 2010

Categories HUMAN RIGHTS Rights of peasants Statements
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