AT LAST! Peasants’ rights declaration before UN General Assembly
For the sake of coherence EU governments must vote in its favor
Brussels, October 25th, 2018 – Today the “UN Declaration on the rights of peasants and other people working in rural areas” will be presented at the UN General Assembly in New York*. Millions of peasants from La Vía Campesina can cry out “At last!”. They, along with pastoralists, artisanal fishermen, agricultural workers and indigenous peoples’ organisations, with the support of several NGOs, have been working tirelessly for nearly two decades to ensure that the rights of rural populations are better recognized and protected.
As it stands, peasants suffer from hunger and poverty at a disproportionate level**. It is estimated that out of 821 million people suffering hunger in the world (2018 UN figure), 80% live in rural areas. These people are particularly vulnerable and discriminated, they suffer forced expulsions and lack of access to essential resources: land, seeds, loans, education, justice and basic services. Yet, on average, small food producers contribute 70% of the world’s food, with this figure rising to more than 80% in so-called developing countries. Additionally, the decisive role played by small food producers in the fight against climate change and biodiversity conservation is widely recognised.
Citizens broadly support the Declaration, at the European level as well as at the international level. The European Economic and Social Committee has shown its support, and the European Parliament voted a resolution asking EU states to back the project. On 2nd October in France, the National Advisory Committee on Human Rights has urged the French government, in an advisory opinion, to back the text. The FAO has expressed its support to the declaration, as well as the former rapporteur on the right to food, Olivier de Schutter, and his successor, Hilal Elver.
However, until now, most European governments have abstained within this UN process.
For the sake of coherence with the Paris Agreements on climate change, the commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals 2030 – in particular Objective 2 to eradicate hunger- and the commitments announced by the European diplomacy to build a fairer and more sustainable world, our European governments should have the courage to take the right decision and to vote clearly and unanimously in favor of the Declaration.
And let’s recall that even if declarations are not binding, the existence of such an instrument, desired and supported by those concerned, would bolster consideration for the millions of farmers in Europe who work hard to make a living and feed people, and hearten rural communities.
Ramona Duminicioiu – ECVC Coordinating Committee: +40 264 599 204 (RO FR EN ES)
Genevieve Savigny – ECVC Peasants Rights Group: +33 625 551 687 (FR EN ES)
Notes to the editors:
* The “UN Declaration on the rights of peasants and other people working in rural areas” will be presented to the United Nations General Assembly’s Third Committee on Human Rights. Following a last intergovernmental working group in April 2018 and a broadly affirmative vote in the Human Rights Council on September 28th, the Chairperson-Rapporteur of the Bolivian Mission in Geneva, M.Ruddy Jose Flores Monterrey, will expose the resolution in favour of this new instrument aimed to bring together, specify and expose the rights of peasants and other agricultural workers, women and men.
** Human Rights Advisory Board 2012 preliminary study
Photo: OBV – Via Campesina Austria