The time is ripe for the recognition and protection of peasants' rights
24 May 2017 - After the fourth session of the open-ended intergovernmental working group (OEIWG) on a United Nations declaration on the rights of peasants and other people working in rural areas, a joint Statement from La Via Campesina and other social movements and civil society organisations has been released.
We peasants, indigenous peoples, pastoralists, fisher folk and rural workers, including rural women from around the globe, from La Via Campesina, IUF, WFFP, WAMIP, FIMARC, IITC along with CETIM, FIAN International and other organizations, represent all together billions of rural people. We have been constructively engaging this process of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas, from the fields of pasture, our workplaces around the world and here in Geneva for many years. We strongly welcome the level of constructive support from cross-regions, from Latin America, Africa, Asia, Europe. We especially welcome the warm and effective leadership of the Chair-rapporteur. It is worth taking note that delegates of UN member states have extended their very strong contribution to the process.
As we have been saying from the very beginning, we, as representatives of peasants, indigenous peoples, pastoralists, fishers and rural workers, including rural women, shall be recognized as legitimate parties in international cooperation in relation to food and rural development, since we constitute the sector of the population mostly affected by hunger and malnutrition despite strongly contributing to feeding the world. The 2 billion peasants and other people working in rural areas have great knowledge and experience, as well as our own perspectives. We understand the current challenges facing the world’s food systems and have ideas for solutions. We are able to contribute to the development process in a valuable manner.
This process has made our movement stronger than ever. After sixteen years of effort and dedication, throughout the world, our communities’ expectations keep rising, expecting our demands to be recognized in the intergovernmental negotiations.
This is our declaration, we have been and we will keep defending it constructively before our national governments until its conclusion. All peasants and people working in rural areas around the world strongly identify themselves with the content of this Declaration, which will be an instrument to restore and dignify our status in society and to recognize our rights.
We are confident to see the willingness of States to recognize crucial rights for us, such as the right to land and the right to seeds. We are mildly concerned with the reserves that have been expressed by only some States towards major parts of the text regarding collective rights and extraterritorial obligations. However, as we navigate through this process, and witness its evolutions, we believe that common ground on the recognition of the right to Food Sovereignty can be reached.
What were perceived as new rights by certain countries, are now favorably reconsidered. Thanks to the legal grounds put forward by the experts, the right to seeds and the right to land are gaining an incontestable legitimacy in the declaration, as they are specifically referred to in international agreements and a growing number of national legislations. Our grassroots testimonies reinforce the state of emergency for recognizing these rights in the Declaration without any further delay.
As we all stand here, in full knowledge that human rights prevail economic interests, we call on States to unite in order to recognize and further guarantee the realization of the rights of peasants and other people working in rural areas.
As organizations representing peasants and other people working in rural areas, we stand ready to play our part and take up our responsibilities. We are ready to put our best effort to contribute to this historical process. States can no longer postpone the declaration. The time is ripe for the recognition and protection of our rights. Let us work together for the adoption of the declaration at the earliest.
For peasants and other people working in rural areas, the relationship with Mother Earth, her territories and waters is the physical, cultural, and spiritual basis for our existence. We are obliged to maintain this relationship with Mother Earth for the survival of our future generations. We gladly assume our role as her guardians.
Long live peasants and other people working in rural areas!
La Via Campesina, The International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Wokers’ Association (IUF), World Forum of Fisher Peoples (WFFP), The World Alliance of Mobile Indigenous Peoples (WAMIP), Federation of Rural Adult Catholic Movement (FIMARC), International Indian Treaty Council (IITC), Association Centre Europe-Tiers Monde (CETIM), FIAN International, International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL), Programme on Women’s Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (PWESCR), Bread for All, and other organisations that we will add afterwards in annex list