Brussels, 17 December 2019 – It is now one year since – on 17 December 2018 in New York – the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Declaration on the Rights of Peasant and other people working in rural areas (UNDROP).
The adoption of this international instrument to protect and strengthen peasant communities around the world was a major victory for La Via Campesina – the global peasant movement, who worked together with organizations of indigenous peoples, agricultural workers, fishermen and pastoralists, as well as with many NGOs and allies who have carried out mobilizations over the last 18 years. This Declaration brings together all of the human rights that support and enable peasant food systems and livelihoods and offers key tools to support sustainable and accessible food production for all, particularly in rural areas, home to 80% of the population that suffers from hunger and malnutrition. Some of the fundamental rights recognized and promoted through UNDROP are the right to land, seeds, a healthy environment and biodiversity. It is a powerful tool that can also be used to respond to the climate crisis.
The end of 2019 is marked on the one hand by the failure of COP 25, which showed once again the inability of States to acknowledge and act on the climate emergency at an international level, and on the other hand by the popular uprising in defense of human rights, from Madrid to Santiago de Chile, from Beirut to Hong Kong. In order to cope with the current social and environmental crises and the increasing number of conflicts, it is urgent to protect those excluded from the society and to strengthen peasant systems which are the main source of food and at the same time offer the greatest solution for greenhouse gas mitigation.
But for the time being, peasant agriculture continues to be discriminated against at all levels in Europe, where is seen as a burden from the past, instead of being rightfully recognized as a pillar of strength in European culture.
According to Ramona Duminicioiu, member of the ECVC Coordination Committee, “In Romania, where the vast majority of producers are small farmers, they face massive land grabbing by both domestic and foreign companies. The situation is even worse for our Ukrainian neighbors, where a new land liberalization bill threatens to violate the right to land for more than 6 million peasants, to the benefit of agroholdings, domestic oligarchs and multinational corporations.” As of today, Ukrainian peasants have taken to the streets of Kiev to oppose this bill and claim their rights.
The European Commission’s recent proposal for a Green Deal, including the “farm to fork” strategy that finally links safe and healthy food for consumers to agricultural systems and promotes agroecology, is certainly heartening, but it is not enough. ECVC expects the Commission and all European States to implement the Declaration on the Rights of Farmers in all relevant policies.
Jose-Miguel Pacheco, also a member of ECVC’s Coordination Committee, says: “The EU urgently needs to protect small and medium-scale family farms, by regulating agricultural markets and ensuring a fair distribution of subsidies. This right to a dignified life is included in the Declaration and must be applied in our trade policies. The CAP reform must go in this direction, so that the ecological shift the EU needs does not leave anyone behind. Not here, not anywhere else.”
This is an emergency! Peasants feed the world population and their rights are human rights!
Watch here ECVC’s new video on the Peasants Rights Declaration with subtitles in English, French and Spanish :
Ramona Duminicioiu – ECVC Coordination Committee: +40 746 337 022 – FR, ES, EN, RO
Jose-Miguel Pacheco – ECVC Coordination Committee: +351 918 73 64 41 – ES, PT