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.
Sandra Pointet/Geneva Academy
The Geneva Academy Wednesdays take place on Wednesdays in the format of roundtables closed to the general public, where one or more PhD students from the Graduate Institute or the University of Geneva present their research, ideas, working papers or draft thesis chapters.
On 17–18 October 2018, the two coordinators of the Geneva Human Rights Platform, Felix Kirchmeier and Kamelia Kemileva, participated in Oslo in a conference on the role that domestic human rights actors play towards the 2020 review of United Nations treaty bodies.
This short course provides participants with a comprehensive introduction to both substantive human rights law as well as the functioning of international mechanisms for the protection of human rights.
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.
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.
© ILO/ Joydeep Mukherjee
This project aims to support the UN working group’s consultation process and thus contribute the promotion and protection of human rights and gender equality in relation to the business sector via research on international human rights law and policy related to gender equality guarantees and their application to business activities, and the organization of a global conference in Geneva.