As human beings, peasants and other people working in rural areas, including herders, pastoralists and fisherfolks, are entitled to all human rights. However, their vulnerability remains a particular concern. They represent 70 percent of people living in extreme poverty and 80 percent of the world’s hungry. Many are victims of multiple discrimination and human rights violations, and are not effectively protected by the International Labour Organization (ILO) conventions because they are not engaged in the formal sector.
Supporting the Negotiation of a UN Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas
To respond to this situation, the international movement of peasant organizations, La Via Campesina, adopted a Declaration on the Rights of Peasants – Women and Men in 2008. In March 2012, the Advisory Committee of the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council (HRC) presented a study on the rights of people working in rural areas and recommended the elaboration of a UN declaration on the rights of peasants and other people working in rural areas (UN Declaration). Negotiations started in 2013, involving key challenges such as the need to find solutions on the recognition of new rights, including the rights to land and seeds.
This project aims to support efforts to strengthen the promotion and protection of the rights of peasants, and in particular to provide expert support to the negotiations taking place at the HRC.
From 2008 to 2012, the Geneva Academy supported the work of the HRC Advisory Committee which led to the current negotiations. Since 2013 we have been providing legal advice to states and other stakeholders on key issues to be negotiated, such as the rights to land and seeds, and organizing conferences and expert seminars to debate ongoing challenges.
We are working in close partnership with the Swiss Government, the Permanent Representative of Bolivia to the UN in Geneva, the Bolivian Ambassador, who is leading the negotiation, UN experts – in particular the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food, and members of the HRC Advisory Committee – and civil society organizations, including La Via Campesina, FIAN International, and the Europe–Third World Centre (CETIM).
Research in 2018
In 2018 we will publish a study on the rights to food sovereignty and to free, prior and informed consent. We will also organize an expert seminar on the adoption and implementation of the UN Declaration with all stakeholders.