The Rights of Peasants

Started in May 2008

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 2016–2017

In 2016 and 2017 we will focus on providing a legal analysis and organizing an expert seminar on the right to land and other natural resources with all stakeholders.

TEAM

Picture of Adriana Bessa

Adriana Bessa

Senior Research Fellow

Adriana Bessa's research areas include the rights of traditional local communities, the draft declaration on the rights of peasants and the right to food.

Picture of Christophe Golay

Christophe Golay

Senior Research Fellow and Strategic Adviser on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

Christophe Golay's expertise relates to economic, social and cultural rights, the right to food and the rights of peasants.

OUTPUT

Identifying Agreed Language from Other International Instruments

In July 2013 we presented a background paper during the first session of the negotiations, in which a draft Declaration proposed by the UN Advisory Committee was examined.

In January 2015 we published Academy In-Brief No. 5, Negotiation of a United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas, in which agreed language taken from other international instruments was identified. This text was presented during the second session of the negotiations that took place in February 2015.

Peasants' Right to Seeds and Intellectual Property Rights

In November 2015, we organized an expert seminar on peasants’ right to seeds and intellectual property rights, and presented a legal analysis of this topic during the negotiations that took place in May 2016.

Peasants' Right to Land and Other Natural Resources

In November 2016, we organized an expert seminar on peasants’ right to land and other natural resources, and will present a legal analysis of this topic during the negotiations that will take place in May 2017.

Dissemination with Key Stakeholders

Each publication is presented before all stakeholders during the negotiations taking place at the UN and is widely used by negotiators. Publications are also available on the official website of the negotiations.

Publications

Cover page of the Research Brief

The Rights to Food Sovereignty and to Free, Prior and Informed Consent

March 2018

The Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights

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Cover of the Research Brief: The Right to Land and Other Natural Resources

Research Brief: The Right to Land and Other Natural Resources

May 2017

Adriana Bessa, Christophe Golay

Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights

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Cover of the Research-Brief: The Right to Seeds and Intellectual Property Rights

Research Brief: The Right to Seeds and Intellectual Property Rights

March 2017

Christophe Golay

Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights

Download >

Cover of The Right to Seeds and Intellectual Property Rights

The Right to Seeds and Intellectual Property Rights

May 2016

Christophe Golay

Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights

Download >

Cover of the In-Brief No5: Negotiation of a United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas

In-Brief N°5: Negotiation of a United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas

January 2015

Christophe Golay

Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights

Cover of Legal reflections on the rights of peasants and other people  working in rural areas

Legal Reflections on the Rights of Peasants and other People Working in Rural Areas

July 2013

Christophe Golay

Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights

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NEWS

Woman drying beans on the ground News

The Rights to Food Sovereignty and to Free, Prior and Informed Consent

10 April 2018

Our new Research Brief The Rights to Food Sovereignty and to Free, Prior and Informed Consent presents the protection of these rights at international, regional and national levels and defines the main elements of the rights that could be included in the UN Declaration on the rights of peasants and other people working in rural areas. It will be presented at the 5th session of the intergovernmental working group on the rights of peasants and other people working in rural areas which aims to finalize the UN Declaration.

Read more >

Philippines, Mindanoa Island, Datu Odin Sinsuat Municipality. Rice fields. Many displaced persons work as daily labourers in rice fields or in coconut plantation to earn some money. News

Expert Seminar on the Right to Food Sovereignty and Other Collective Rights of Peasants

29 September 2017

Next Friday, at the Palais des Nations, more than 60 participants – academics, experts, states’ representatives and representatives of non-governmental organizations and social movements – will gather to discuss the right to food sovereignty and other collective rights in the context of the current negotiation of the UN Declaration on the rights of peasants and other people working in rural areas.

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Casamance, Bignona department, Djibidione municipality, Diaboudior Frontière (Senegal). ICRC market garden programme. Women are taking care of african eggplants. News

TOWARDS A RECOGNITION OF THE RIGHT TO LAND AND OTHER NATURAL RESSOURCES

12 May 2017

Our new Research Brief The Right to Land and Other Natural Resources summarizes key findings linked to the recognition of the right to land and other natural resources in the context of the current negotiation of a UN Declaration on the rights of peasants and other people working in rural areas at the UN Human Rights Council.

Read more >

MORE ON THIS THEMATIC AREA

Encounter with the High Commissioner for Human Rigjhts during the annual meeting of NHRIs Event

The Paris Principles at 25: How National Human Rights Institutions Have Contributed to Promoting and Protecting Human Rights and What They Can Do in the Future

May 2018, 17:00-18:30

This event will explore the ways in which National Human Rights Institutions contributed to improving the lives of individuals around the world over the past 25 years, and the role they continue to play both domestically and internationally.

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Pakistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, Lower Dir disctrict, Kamala village. Those farmers lucky enough to have Training

The Protection of Human Rights and the Environment

2- July 2018

This training course provides participants with a deep understanding of the international legal framework for the protection of human rights (HR) and the environment as well as in-depth knowledge of how to promote environmental protection through existing HR mechanisms.

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Syria, Aleppo. The build-up of waste is a serious health risk Training

Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the Sustainable Development Goals

17- September 2018

This training course explores the relationship between economic, social and cultural rights (ESCR) and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and provides participants with practical tools to include ESCR and the SDGs in their work.

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Wheat field Project

The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and the Protection of the Right to Seeds in Europe

Started in January 2018

The project will notably identify, via the publication of a guide, expert workshops and the participation of key European partners in the negotiations of the UN Declaration, the main opportunities and obstacles to protect the right to seeds in Europe. It will also discuss how to promote changes in European laws, policies and trade agreements to ensure that they do not infringe, but facilitate the realization of peasants’ right to seeds.

Read more