The Opening of the agricultural Markets and their Consequences for the Peasants of the South

11/11/2001
Human Rights Commission

Statement on Item 7 : Right to development. Oral statement presented by CETIM and WFDY.



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Mr. Chairman,

The Europe – Third World Centre (CETIM) and the World Federation of Democratic Youth (WFDY), in collaboration with VIA CAMPESINA, would like to draw the attention of the Human Rights Commission on the opening of the agricultural markets and their consequences for the peasants of the South.

Mr. Chairman, Distinguished Delegates,

La Via Campesina as peasants and small farmers organization, pronounce that peasants as part of the human family, have lived from farming to produce food for the life of other human beings, thus positively contributing to the world. To peasants, farming is more than an industry. It is a way of life. It is the culture, history and livelihood of the largest number of inhabitants of this planet. Peasants and small farmers are the rightful guardians of a rich, diverse and unpolluted environment and as such there should be special legislation, which enshrines and protects the rights of peasants and small farmers.

Peasants and small farmers have fundamental rights, including:

Peasants’ right to live.
Peasants’ right to guard and use the natural wealth and resources on their individual ability.
Peasants’ right to their agriculture production.
Peasants’ right to consume their produce.
Peasants’ right to market their production and intellectual property right on their production.
Peasants’ right to unite and organize.
Peasants’ right on self- expression.

Mr. Chairman,

Although these rights are universally recognized, but in reality incidents of human right violations perpetrated against peasants and small farmers are massive and characterized by their large scale nature. Below are a few examples:-

The green revolution policy caused the loss of peasants’ freedom to choose the crops they plant and the agriculture technology they use. This is because all states that have implemented the green revolution forced peasants to do farming by green revolution models. In fact peasants refused the green revolution policy because of its damage to the environment and destruction of peasants’ social structures. With the introduction of the Genetic Modified Organism (GMO) technology, peasants and small farmers will lose their natural wealth and resources. By using World Trade Organization (WTO) instruments, Transnational Corporation will be in advantaged position to force states to implement this technology and take away the natural wealth and resources from peasants. In many countries, the people refuse the implementation of the GMO technology and patent of the natural wealth and resources. For example, peasant protest in the Karnataka state, India. They refused the patent of Basmati Rice – and the GMO production model. This is obviously against the spirit of the Declaration on the Right to Development.

IMF and World Bank implement liberalization principles, as condition for the granting of loans and cooperation with a country. For example the letter of intent signed by the Indonesian government with IMF. It mentioned that Indonesian government should cut agricultural subsidizes, privatize government owned companies and reduce tax on agricultural imports from abroad on a long-term basis. This condition, make Indonesia and other countries alike, which have agreements with IMF, in a weak position to formulate their national policy of development freely and wisely for the people welfare. In Brazil, the World Bank encourages implementation of the land market policy, to resolve the agrarian and land conflicts. The World Bank does not support the land reform policy, which was demanded by the peasants. This is against articles 2 and 8 of the Declaration on the Right to Development.

Almost all states in the world allowed peasants to unite and organize, but states generally do not fulfill and protect the peasants’ rights. Even many countries violate the peasants rights and dismiss their legitimate demands, such as the violations perpetrated by the police and military in Colombia, Brazil, Indonesia, Philippines and so on.

Regarding this situation CETIM and WFDY, together with VIA CAMPESINA, ask the Commission on Human Rights to take action to ensure the following:

The Agreement on Agriculture should not be under the control of the WTO.

The IMF, World Bank and other International Funding Agencies desist from forcing tight liberalism policy on poor countries.

To formulate and enact a universal Declaration on the Rights of Peasant. This is especially essential because the Declaration on Peasants Rights produced by FAO in 1978 will not provide the necessary protection of peasants under the current WTO regime.

United Nations should be empowered to impose sanctions on states and Transnational corporations that violate peasants’ rights.


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