UN: Establishment of the Working Group on Peasants’ Rights


In October 2023, the Human Rights Council adopted a resolution setting up a new UN special procedure on the rights of peasants. This is yet another historic achievement for the international peasant movement and for peasant farmers around the world. The task of the new Working Group will be to ensure the implementation and promotion of the Declaration on the Rights of Peasants, which serves as a political and legal lever for holders of these rights. On 5th April 2024, at its 55th session, the UN Human Rights Council elected five experts to form part of the aforementioned Working Group.

The experts elected to head up the mechanism are Ms Shalmali Guttal (India) for the states of the Asia-Pacific region, Ms Geneviève SAVIGNY (France) for Western Europe and other states, Ms Uche Ewelukwa OFODILE (Nigeria) for the African States, Mr Carlos DUARTE (Colombia) for Latin American and Caribbean States and Mr Davit HAKOBYAN (Armenia) for the Eastern European States. It should be stressed that Ms Savigny, a member of the Confédération paysanne in France and is a representative of La Via Campesina, has participated actively in the negotiation process of the Declaration on the Rights of Peasants. The presence of a representative of the international peasant movement is particularly important as it will help make our voice heard and represent opinions from the field, i.e. those at the forefront of the struggle for food sovereignty.

The Working Group will play an important role in identifying shortcomings and obstacles to the implementation of the Declaration on the Rights of Peasants, at regional, national and international level, while making recommendations to overcome these problems. It will also support states in developing public policies in this area (legislative changes, adoption of programmes, etc.). The Working Group will also be a forum for exchanging experiences and best practice.

While at this 55th session of the Human Rights Council, CETIM, La Via Campesina and their partners (from civil society and allied governments) also organised a side event to discuss the objectives, opportunities and challenges of the working group. Representatives of La Via Campesina from Haiti, France and Niger were able to take part in the discussions, sharing their real-world experiences and their demands for the functioning of the mechanism. That is to say: bolstering local struggles for peasants’ rights; developing knowledge and case law in this area; supporting competent authorities in implementing the provisions and premises of the Declaration; addressing violations and challenges posed by the dominant agri-food business sector, including land and seed policies.

The inability of family farmers to support themselves in the context of a discriminatory economic system also plays an important role in the peasant agenda.

The full participation of peasant and rural organisations in the activities of the Working Group will simply be paramount if it wants to be considered a legitimate mechanism which benefits the communities concerned and often affected by violations of their rights.

Therefore, farmers’ organisations must take ownership of the space provided by the Working Group, feed into it and make it a strategic work stream, in order to strengthen and give greater visibility to their local and national struggles through the decisions taken by the international mechanism.

To find out more about the mandate of the Working Group, download our factsheet on the UNDROP Working Group.

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