On Friday 28 September, the United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC) adopted by vote (33 in favour, 3 against and 11 abstentions) the UN Declaration on the rights of peasants and other people working in rural areas (UN Declaration).
‘This adoption is a major step towards a better protection of the rights of peasants and other people living in rural areas worldwide: this is essential as they represent 70 percent of people living in extreme poverty and 80 percent of the world’s hungry’ underlines Dr Christophe Golay, Special Adviser on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights at the Geneva Academy and Coordinator of our research project on the rights of peasants.
‘The adoption of the UN Declaration is the outcome of more than ten years of work by social movements, civil society organizations, experts, and academic institutions like the Geneva Academy’ he adds.
While many of the rights of peasants enshrined in the UN Declaration have already been recognized at national, regional and international levels, it is the first time that they are all enshrined in a single instrument.
‘The UN Declaration includes and defines key human rights for peasants, including the right to seeds, the right to land and other natural resources, and the right to food sovereignty’ stresses Dr Adriana Bessa, Senior Research Fellow at the Geneva Academy.
‘As human rights are higher order norms in international law, these rights should have precedence over property regimes or trade agreements, such as those negotiated at the World Trade Organization. States should, therefore, revise their national laws and international treaties accordingly’ she adds.
The Geneva Academy was involved, via dedicated research, in the preparatory work that led to the negotiation of a UN Declaration (2008-2012) and in the negotiation itself (2013-2018).
‘We’ve been supporting the process from the beginning via legal advice given to states and other stakeholders on key issues that were negotiated, as well as via the organization of expert seminars and conferences to debate ongoing challenges’ recalls Dr Christophe Golay. ‘Our publications have been key to advance the negotiations, as they clarified the content of certain rights and have been used widely by negotiators’.
After its adoption by the HRC, the UN Declaration will have to be adopted by the UN General Assembly.
‘While this will probably happen before the end of this year, we will already start working on the UN Declaration’s implementation with a first expert seminar on 31 October at the UN in Geneva, co-organized with the Federal department of Foreign Affairs of Switzerland, the Permanent Mission of Bolivia to the UN in Geneva, and the Friedrich-Ebert Stiftung’ stresses Dr Christophe Golay.
Our new publication Optimizing the UN Treaty Body System outlines a series of recommendations related to the functioning of United Nations treaty bodies, considered a cornerstone of universal human rights protection.
Asian Development Bank
The article Engendering the Right to Food? International Human Rights Law, Food Security and the Rural Woman, written by our Senior Research Fellow Dr Joanna Bourke Martignoni, examines how United Nations human rights mechanisms address the role and status of rural women in the context of food security and the rights to food and land.
Óglaigh na hÉireann
This IHL Talk will discuss the legal framework and the main critical questions related to search and rescue in the Mediterranean Sea, using concrete cases and examples to illustrate current issues and challenges.
This short course analyses the main international and regional norms governing the international protection of refugees. It notably examines the sources of international refugee law, including the 1951 Geneva Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, and their interaction with human rights law and international humanitarian law.
Truth Commissions are by now an integral part of the transitional justice vocabulary and practice. The 2019 Spring School will provide a comprehensive, multidimensional and practical examination of this transitional justice mechanism, shedding light on both its aims and the practical challenges it has met or is likely to meet.
After having provided academic support to the negotiation of the UN Declaration during ten years, this research project focuses on the implementation of the UN Declaration on the rights of peasants and other people working in rural areas.
UN Photo / Pierre Albouy
This project, launched in 2016, examines different concepts of universality, maps contemporary challenges to the principle of HR universality in the context of specific themes covered by the HRC and discusses the role of the HRC in the promotion and protection of universally guaranteed HR.