The UN Human Rights Council in Geneva has just adopted the Declaration on peasants’ rights. A great victory for the peasants and the organizations that have supported them for 17 years.
The adoption of the Declaration on peasants’ rights and other rural workers is the result of a long process of work by CETIM and its partners, including Vía Campesina, an organization that brings together millions of farmers around the world.
At the beginning, a simple observation: peasants represent nearly half of humanity, yet their rights are denied in many countries. Famine, poverty, expropriation, these are just some of the problems they face on a daily basis.
“It was the peasants of La Vía Campesina who decided that States should recognize their rights. “, explains Henry Saragih in a book on the subject that will soon be published by CETIM Editions.
Seventeen years of struggle
The process followed by La Vía Campesina to obtain recognition of their essential rights can serve as an example. The peasants’ delegates from the various countries began by putting the articles of the future Declaration on paper. Then they found an entry into the United Nations with the help of CETIM. Indeed, the Geneva-based organization, which has consultative status with the United Nations, is an interface between that institution and social movements.
“The key elements of the Declaration, to name but a few, are the right to land and natural resources, the right to a decent income and means of production, the right to seeds, the right to social security and of course food sovereignty. “, explains Melik Özden, Director of CETIM.
The Declaration was adopted by 33 votes, 3 countries voted against and 11 abstained. It will enable the populations concerned to assert their specific rights (such as the right to seeds) and to participate in decision-making on agriculture, fisheries, agri-food policies and any issue affecting their communities. In addition, this tool will serve as a reference for establishing programs and policies in relation to peasants. Whether to incorporate their rights into national legislation or to negotiate international trade agreements. Finally, it will be an important tool for institutions, human rights defenders. In short, for any entity concerned by the issue of peasants’ rights.
One last step that will soon be taken is the adoption of the Declaration on peasants’ rights and other rural workers by the UN General Assembly in New York at the end of 2018.