Nov. 29th, 2011: Call for Action- One more step to International Convention on the Rights of Peasants
The final study will be discussed and debated in UN this February and March 2012. This study explains the work of La Via Campesina in establishing the rights of peasants, and it fully adopts La Via Campesina's Declaration of the Rights of Peasants-Women and Men. This is a huge step and brings us one step closer to an International Convention on the Rights of Peasants.
Therefore, we need to conduct strategic actions before February 2012:
- 1. Pressure our national government to fully support the study.
The study recommends the need for: (1) a new instrument for the rights of peasants; and (2) the rights to land to be recognized as basic human rights.
Supporting countries (data per March 2011):
Belarus, Bolivia, Brazil, China, Cuba, Djibouti, Ecuador, Indonesia, Nicaragua, Peru, Sri Lanka, Uruguay, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Algiers, Haiti, Zambia, Kenya, Nigeria, Zambia, Syria, Sudan, Malaysia, Russia, Costa Rica, Lebanon, Burkina Faso, Angola, Panama, Palestina, the Philippines, Tanzania, Lao, Rep. Dominica, Ghana, Mozambique, Namibia, Myanmar, South Africa, Jordan, Niger, Congo, Timor Leste, Portugal, Croatia, Spain, Switzerland, Thailand, Cape Verde, Senegal, Austria, Norway, Luxemburg, Mauritius.
We need to make sure these countries will still support us in this coming February-March session in the UN.
- 2. Special approach should be taken for the European Union (EU)
This is because they oppose the initiative in the UN. We should split the decision among members of the EU because some of them actually do not oppose the rights of peasants. Some supporting countries in the EU are: Portugal, Spain, Austria, and Luxembug.
We need to make sure members of EU who support will still support us in this coming February-March session in the UN, and try to convince some more. As a regional entity, EU's decision could be split then abstain, or agreeing to our initiative-not fully opposing.
We call all our members organizations, friends and allies in those countries to push their national governments. UN human rights mechanisms works in the basis of states. Therefore, it is very crucial for your national government to send the signal supporting the study to its mission in Geneva.
Updates on the rights of peasants
Per August 10, 2011
- 1. The Advisory Committee agreed to include a DRAFT DECLARATION ON THE RIGHTS OF PEASANTS AND OTHER PEOPLE WORKING IN RURAL AREAS in the annex of the final study. The document will be circulated around December 2011.
- 2. Later, other members of Advisory Committee will comment from January until its 8th session on February 22-24, 2012
- 3. The final study and the draft declaration will be presented in the 19th session of UN Human Rights Council (March 2012)
- 4. We propose another recommendation in the study, "to establish special procedures within the UN, for instance the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Peasants"
- 5. Jose Bengoa, member of Advisory Committee, said that this is the last grasp to achieve the declaration/convention on the rights of peasants
- 6. Therefore, WE NEED TO LOBBY GOVERNMENTS! Especially before February-March
- 7. We can identify the countries from now on. Ikhwan from SPI Indonesia will come up with the documents of: (1) countries; (2) the draft call to lobby/action; and also (3) the lobby letter
Ending the discrimination against peasants: The need for further protection of the rights of peasants and other people working in rural areas
La Via Campesina, September 20, 2011
La Via Campesina congratulates the Advisory Committee of UN Human Rights Council for the work on establishing the groundwork of promotion and protection of rights of peasants. Alexis Corthay, a peasant member of La Via Campesina from Switzerland delivered a speech in the High Level Segment of UN Human Rights Council 16th session responding to current situation of food and the discrimination on the right to food. The speech is also responding to the latest preliminary study from UN Human Rights Council stating the need for further protection of the rights of peasants and other people working in rural areas.
"The 16th session of UN Human Rights Council should be decisive on creating solutions to the current food situation. We embrace the opportunity for current studies and efforts on the right to food in the council which can be the basis for a new instrument (declaration and/or convention) on the rights of peasants and people working in rural areas.
Later on, the UN Human Rights Council resolution in its 16th session mandated the Advisory Committee to continue to work on the issue of discrimination in the context of the right to food and welcomes its preliminary study on the advancement of the rights of people working in rural areas (document A/HRC/16/63).
This take a global effort of rights of peasants and other people working in rural areas into new level as international law and standard of the United Nations.
• 1. La Via Campesina fighting for recognition of rights of peasants
La Via Campesina is a global peasant movement. It consists of more than 170 organizations based in 70 countries. We have about 200 millions member which participated actively in the respective national organizations.
La Via Campesina has been struggling for the recognition of the rights of peasants since at least year 2000, and adopting the declaration rights of peasants in the International Conference of Peasants Rights June 2008 in Jakarta, Indonesia and in the La Via Campesina General Conference October 2008 in Maputo, Mozambique.
Peasants could live and work through their own means and results. La Via Campesina runs many consultations and engagements with its members, government of member states, experts and researchers, and parts of society. Those have been intensifying after the International Conference on Peasants' Rights in Jakarta, 2008. Members of La Via Campesina go to many parts of the world for this initiative, including to Bolivia, Brazil, Mozambique, Thailand, India, Belgium, Spain, Indonesia, Italy including in the sessions of UN bodies and a joint initiative with the office of the President of the UN General Assembly in discussing "the Global Food Crisis and Right to Food" in April 2009.
As of now, La Via Campesina is convinced that the right of peasants is supported and fought by many parts of society and of policymaking fora.
• 2. Role of peasants: Ending food crisis and work of global cooperation
After 1996 World Food Summit, most particularly in 2007-2008, the world suffered the worst food crisis in history-right in the middle of abundance in capital and wealth. The record shows that more than 1 billion people were undernourished worldwide. According to FAO, the Asia and Pacific region had the largest number of hungry people (642 million), followed by sub-Saharan Africa (264 million). Poor people, especially peasants and people working in rural areas fall into hunger and discrimination.
More than before, it is widely acknowledged that the food crisis is not only an incident or a non-related event. It is a chronic and long-term situation. Having acknowledging that, it is preventable. The 2008 World Food Summit repeated the main commitment of 1996 World Food Summit:
"...right of everyone to have access to safe and nutritious food, consistent with the right to adequate food and the fundamental right of everyone to be free from hunger".
The UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Mr. Olivier de Schutter, emphasise the food crisis is related with the entitlement and with the ignorance of government of states on the importance of state's role. On the other hand, the economic system and profit-making of food production are clearly in the picture of the food crisis. Then and now, we still see that profit-taking of food production has been justified by many arguments including those used by transnational corporations. While rhetoric of transnational corporations seemed convincing, the stark food shortage and speculation only confirms the fears that their solution mislead many.
Most importantly, hunger and general food situation refers to rural problem where peasants, small landholders, landless workers, fisher folk, hunters and gatherers who suffer disproportionately. The United Nations Millennium Development Project Task Force on Hunger has shown that 80 percent of the world's hungry live in rural areas. Some 50 per cent of the world's hungry are smallholder farmers who depend mainly or partly on agriculture for their livelihoods.
Furthermore, the food crisis only reaffirms the urgent need of the recognition of fundamental rights of peasants. The ability of the world to create food sovereignty is very much linked to the mode of life and production that peasants are working on.
The various report of many intergovernmental organizations, independent experts and researchers, analysis of cooperation organizations and state-commissioned shows the link between the livelihoods of peasants with the food situation. The 2009 report of IAASTD (International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science, and Technology for Development) recognised the center of peasants in the problem and solution of poverty -key message 5:
La Via Campesina has been participating in world's effort responding the food situation. In regional level, in Africa, in Central and South America, in Asia, in Europe, and other, La Via Campesina engage national governments and regional governance in developing cooperation for food sovereignty. In international fora, La Via Campesina has been working with the human rights body and also with UN High Level Task Force of Right to Food and Food Crisis. This is a real contribution of peasants for international cooperation to respond long-term food crisis.
The challenges lie in how we could reach the best cooperation among actors of international policies. With the recognition of the rights of peasants, the international community recognizes the role of peasants in that cooperation. What we could also achieve through cooperation is giving wider opportunities for good practices. The world needs more cooperation, and recognition that the problem lies also in the life of peasants.
•3. La Via Campesina works within the UN human rights body to end discrimination against peasants
The global work responding the long-term food crisis should not be another discrimination. The global work should be also the work of peasants. This is a fundamental recognition of the rights and role of peasants feeding the world. La Via Campesina value the central importance of UN Human Rights Council and the Advisory Committee of the UN Human Rights Council.
In 2008, La Via Campesina started working in the Advisory Committee of the UN Human Rights Council. La Via Campesina has been working in UN mechanisms in Geneva with organizations such as CETIM (Centre Europe-Tiers Monde), IHCS (Indonesian Human Rights Committee for Social Justice), and FIAN (Foodfirst Information and Action Network). The work records some notable development:
- - In the light of food crisis, the first session of the Advisory Committee (August 2008) adopted a resolution where food crisis and hunger was analyzed in a longer-term. In the resolution, the Advisory Committee defines the problem of discrimination against peasants, and the rights and role of peasants.
- - The Advisory Committee set-up the drafting group for the report of the problem of food crisis and peasants in that session.
- - In the session of August 2009, the Advisory Committee adopted the first preliminary report entitled "Peasant Farmers and the Right to Food: a History of Discrimination and Exploitation" (A/HRC/AC/3/CRP.5)
- - In the session of January of 2010, the Advisory Committee Adopted the report entitled "Discrimination in the context of Right to Food" (A/HRC/AC/4/2) which also included La Via Campesina Declaration of the Rights of Peasants-Women and Men in that report.
- - The session of January 2010 adopted a resolution which requests the UN Human Rights Council to adopt the report from Advisory Committee.
- - UN Human Rights Council in its 16th session of March 2010 acknowledged the work being carried out ny the Advisory Committee on the right to food and in that regard welcomes its submission to the Council of the preliminary study on discrimination in the context of the right to food, including an identification of good practices of anti-discriminatory policies and strategies (A/HRC/13/32). The Council requests the Advisory Committee to continue to work on the issue, and in that regard to undertake a preliminary study on ways and means to further advance the rights of people working in rural areas, including women, in particular smallholders engaged in the production of food and/or other agricultural products, including from directly working the land, traditional fishing, hunting and herding activities
- - In its session of August 2010 and January 2011, the Advisory Committee come up with the Preliminary study of the Human Rights Council Advisory Committee on the advancement of the rights of peasants and other people working in rural areas, which recommends a need to elaborate a new international human rights instrument for peasants and other people working in rural areas (later document A/HRC/16/63)
- - In its 16th session of March 2011, UN Human Rights Council welcomes the study and requests the Advisory Committee to continue to work on the issue of discrimination in the context of the right to food.
- - The Advisory continue its good work in its 7th session of August 2011, and reaffirms that a new international human rights instrument on the rights of peasants and other people working in rural areas should be elaborated. One more highlight is that the right to land should be recognized in international human rights law (A/HRC/AC/7/CRP.1)
•4. Global action for the 19th session of UN Human Rights Council (February 27-March 28, 2012)
La Via Campesina urges all members and allies to take following steps:
- 1. Engaging and urging the national government to take action on adopting the study from Advisory Committee on the advancement of the rights of peasants and other people working in rural areas
- 2. Engaging UN member states to say "yes" in the February-March 2012 Session; especially the 8th session of Advisory Committee (February 22-24, 2012) and the 19th session of UN Human Rights Council (February 27-March 28, 2012)
La Via Campesina urges all UN member states and member states of UN Human Rights Council for:
- 1. Adopting the study from the Advisory Committee as main initiative of the 8th session of UN Human Rights Council in March 2012
- 2. Having open conversation with La Via Campesina and other peasants organizations on having wider global consultation to end discrimination against peasants, further protection of the rights of peasants and to develop cooperation responding long-term food crisis
- 3. Taking wider conversations with governments of UN member states and with UN bodies in responding the problem of rural poverty and engaging role of peasants in global cooperation.
For a version in French, please contact Sofia Monsalve at email@example.com