The Rights of Peasants

Started in May 2008

Peasants and other people working in rural areas represent 70 percent of people living in extreme poverty and 80 percent of the world’s hungry.

To better protect their rights, the UN General Assembly adopted the UN Declaration on the rights of peasants and other people working in rural areas (UNDROP) in 2018. After having provided key academic support to the negotiation of this important instrument (see outputs below), this research project focuses now on its implementation.

Towards the Implementation of UNDROP

UNDROP’s implementation is dependent on actions to be taken by various stakeholders. States shall take steps to implement this instrument notably by establishing mechanisms to ensure the coherence of national laws and policies with the rights of peasants, and by elaborating, interpreting and applying relevant international agreements to which they are a party in accordance with UNDROP’s provisions. UN human rights mechanisms, regional human rights bodies and international organizations should also include UNDROP in their work, while civil society organizations and social movements are pushing for UNDROP’s implementation at national, regional and international levels.

We provide support to these developments through publications, conferences, expert seminars and training courses.

Focus on Key Rights

Among all the rights enshrined in UNDROP, the rights to land and seeds are crucial for protecting the lives and livelihoods of hundreds of millions of peasants, for preserving crop and agrobiodiversity and for rebalancing unequal power relations.

We therefore primarily focus on the recognition and implementation of these two rights at the national, regional and international levels – by inputting key discussions and processes touching upon their recognition, building capacity of national actors, focussing on concrete cases of implementation and encouraging UN human rights mechanisms to address them in their work and jurisprudence.

The Geneva Academy is also engaged in a project that aims at raising awareness about the importance of the UN Declaration to better protect the right to seeds in Europe.

10 Countries of the Global South

The Geneva Academy is participating in the project Rights-based and Agroecological Initiatives for Sustainability and Equity in Peasant Communities (RAISE) – supported by the Swiss Development Cooperation (SDC) and coordinated by the NGO Action de Carême – that promotes UNDROP’s implementation in 10 countries of the Global South: the Philippines and Timor Leste (Southeast Asia); Nepal and India (South Asia); Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger and Kenya (Sahel); Mozambique and South Africa (Southern Africa); Mexico and Bolivia (Latin America).

In this context, the research team trains partners and local peasant’s organizations in these 10 countries on the rights of peasants, as well as on the use of national, regional and international mechanisms to promote and protect these rights. It also provides strategic guidance to national actors on the use of UN human rights mechanisms to ensure respect for the rights of peasants.

A Concrete Case: Switzerland

In order to ensure that countries ensure that their foreign policy is consistent with UNDROP, the project also focuses, as an example, on how Switzerland should ensure that its policies relating to trade, intellectual property and development cooperation are in line with the rights recognized in the Declaration.

NEWS AND UPCOMING EVENTS

Farmers in a field, India Event

Good Practices, Lessons Learned and Challenges in the Implementation of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Peasants

30 June 2022, 18:30-20:00

This event will discuss good practices, lessons learned and challenges in the implementation of UNDROP.

Read more >

Peasant in in Yangambi, DRC. News

The Geneva Academy Participates in a Major Project on Implementing the Rights of Peasants

8 March 2022

The project aims at implementing the rights of peasants in 10 countries of the Global South: Philippines, India Nepal, Kenya, Niger, Mali, Burkina Faso, South Africa, Bolivia and Mexico.

Read more >

Portrait of Dr Christophe Golay News

Dr Christophe Golay will Discuss the Rights of Peasants at a High-Level Meeting of Colombia’s Constitutional Court

25 January 2021

At an online high-level meeting organized by Colombia’s Constitutional Court, our Senior Research Fellow and Strategic Adviser on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights Dr Christophe Golay will present the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and its potential to protect the rights of peasants in the country.

Read more >

RESEARCHERS

Picture of Christophe Golay

Christophe Golay

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

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

Karine Peschard

Associate Research Fellow

Her expertise and publications relate to intellectual property regimes in agriculture, agrobiodiversity, legal activism and the rights of peasants, in particular the right to seeds.

OUTPUT

Academic Support to UNDROP’s Negotiation

Our research team has been providing academic support to UNDROP’s negotiation between 2008 and 2018 via expert advice and participation in the negotiation, expert seminars and publications clarifying key rights and issues.

From 2008 to 2012, we supported the work of the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council Advisory Committee, which led to UNDROP’s negotiation, via legal advice given on the right to food and the rights of peasants.
From 2013 to 2018, our team provided direct support to UNDROP’s negotiation via participation of our researchers in the negotiation as experts, legal advice to states and other stakeholders involved in the negotiation, expert seminars, and a series of publications that identified agreed language from other international instruments and clarified key rights and issues.

This support notably clarified the scope and content of a number of rights enshrined in UNDROP, including the right to food sovereignty, the right to free, prior and informed consent, the right to land and other natural resources and the right to seeds.

Our experts also helped identifying agreed language on the rights of peasants and other people working in rural areas from existing instruments – thus contributing to advance negotiations and ensure the consistency of UNDROP with other human rights treaties and declarations.

Promotion of UNDROP’s Implementation by States and UN Human Rights Mechanisms

The Research Brief The Implementation of UNDROP – also available in French and Spanish – focuses on the role of states and international and regional organizations in UNDROP’s implementation. It also examines the lessons learned from the implementation of the UN Declaration on the rights of indigenous peoples (UNDRIP) adopted by the UN in 2007.

The Research Brief The Role of UN Human Rights Mechanisms in Monitoring UNDROP focuses on the role of UN, but also regional and national human rights mechanisms in monitoring UNDROP’s implementation. It also examines the lessons learned from their role in monitoring UNDRIP’s implementation. This publication builds on a Statement released on 17 December 2019 – on the occasion of UNDROP’s first anniversary – by nine UN Special Procedures and four members of UN Treaty Bodies, in which they committed to integrate UNDROP’s implementation in the exercise of their mandates.

A Concrete Case Scenario: Switzerland and its Foreign Policy

The Research Brief Switzerland’s Foreign Policy and UNDROP – also available in French and German – provides a summary of a larger study published in French. It presents measures that Switzerland should take in its foreign policy to support UNDROP’s implementation in Switzerland and abroad.

Practical Guidance on the Implementation of the Right to Land

The Practical Manual on the Right to Land, published with the International Land Coalition (ILC) and also available in French and Spanish, provides guidance to all ILC members – more than 250 organizations – and the broader land community on the implementation of UNDROP and its key provisions on the right to land.

The Research Brief The Right to Land and Other Natural Resources – addressed to policy-makers and peasants organizations – details the content of this right, states’ obligations and accountability mechanisms for its enforcement at national, regional and international levels. It also presents the Colombian case where peasant organizations are using UNDROP to defend peasants’ right to land.

Towards the Precedence of the Right to Seeds over Intellectual Property Rights

The Research Brief The Right to Seeds and Intellectual Property Rights – also available in Spanish and Romanian – outlines UNDROP’s definition of the right to seeds and states’ obligations under international human rights law and explains why these shall prevail over other international instruments dealing with, as well as national and regional laws and policies related to intellectual property.

The Research Brief The Right to Seeds in Europe – also available in French and Spanish – focuses on the steps that the European Union (EU) and the EU Member States shall take – via UNDROP’s implementation – to better protect the right to seeds. Authored by Dr Christophe Golay and Dr Fulya Batur, it summarizes the main findings of the Practical Manual on the Right to Seeds in Europe.

Integrating the Rights of Peasants and Family Farmers in the UN Decade on Family Farming

The Guide International and Regional Instruments to Defend and Promote the Interests and Rights of Family Farmers – also available in French and Spanish– provides a comprehensive overview of international and regional legal frameworks and instruments that protect the rights of family farmers and peasants. The guide is the result of a study carried out in collaboration with the World Rural Forum, with the support of the International Land Coalition.

Publications

Cover of the publication

International And Regional Instruments To Defend And Promote The Interests And Rights Of Family Farmers

June 2021

Christophe Golay

The World Rural Forum; the Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights

View More >

Cover of the publication

Instruments Internationaux Et Régionaux Pour Défendre Et Promouvoir Les Intérêts Et Les Droits Des Agricultrices Et Agriculteurs Familiaux

June 2021

Christophe Golay

The World Rural Forum; the Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights

View More >

Cover of the publication

Instrumentos Internacionales Y Regionales Para Defender Y Promover Los Intereses Y Los Derechos De Los Agricultores Y Las Agricultoras Familiares

June 2021

Christophe Golay

The World Rural Forum; the Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights

View More >

Cover page of the guide

The Right to Land and the UNDROP

December 2020

Christophe Golay

The Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights; The International Land Coalition

Download >

Cover page of the guide

LE DROIT À LA TERRE ET LA DÉCLARATION UNDROP

December 2020

Christophe Golay

The Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights; The International Land Coalition

Download >

cover of the publication

EL DERECHO A LA TIERRA Y LA DECLARACIÓN DE UNDROP

December 2020

Christophe Golay

The Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights; The International Land Coalition

Download >

Cover of the publication

The Right To Seeds And Intellectual Property Rights

November 2020

Christophe Golay

The Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights

Download >

cover of the publication

El Derecho A Las Semillas Y Los Derechos De La Propiedad Intelectual

November 2020

Christophe Golay

The Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights

Download >

cover of the publication

Dreptul La Semințe Și Drepturile De Proprietate Intelectuală

November 2020

Christophe Golay

The Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights

Download >

cover of the publication

The Right to Land and Other Natural Resources

November 2020

Christophe Golay

The Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights

Download >

Cover of the publication

La politique extérieure de la Suisse et la Déclaration de l'ONU sur les droits des paysan.ne.s - ETUDE - 2020

August 2020

Christophe Golay, Caroline Dommen

The Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights

Download >

Cover of the publication

Switzerland’s Foreign Policy and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Peasants

August 2020

Christophe Golay, Caroline Dommen

The Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights

Télécharger > Download > Download >

Cover of the publication

The Role of Human Rights Mechanisms In Monitoring The United Nations Declaration On The Rights Of Peasants

February 2020

Christophe Golay

The Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights

Download >

Cover of the article

The Implementation Of The United Nations Declaration On The Rights Of Peasants And Other People Working In Rural Areas

March 2019

Christophe Golay

The Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights

Download > Télécharger > Descargar >

Cover of the article

La mise en œuvre de la Déclaration des Nations Unies sur les droits des paysans et des autres personnes travaillant dans les zones rurales

March 2019

Christophe Golay

The Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights

Télécharger >

Cover of the article

La aplicación de la Declaración de las Naciones Unidas sobre los Derechos de los Campesinos y de Otras Personas que Trabajan en las Zonas Rurales

March 2019

Christophe Golay

The Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights

Descargar >

Cover page of the Research Brief

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

March 2018

Christophe Golay

The 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

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

Download > Download >

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

View More >

Past Events

Putting Peasants Rights Into Practice

10 December 2021, 09:15-15:15

Read more >

Draft General Comment on Land and Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

11 May 2021, 14:30-16:30

Read more >

The UN Declaration on the Rights of Peasants: A Tool to Protect the Right to Land

15 April 2021, 15:00-16:30

Read more >

The Role of UN Human Rights Mechanisms in Monitoring the Implementation of the UNDROP

15 October 2019, 18:30-20:00

Read more >

Public Conference: Peasants' Rights in Europe

30 September 2019, 13:30-17:00

Read more >

How the UN Declaration on the Rights of Peasants may contribute to the UN Decade of Family Farming

17 June 2019, 15:30-18:00

Read more >

MORE ON THIS THEMATIC AREA

Peasant in in Yangambi, DRC. News

The Geneva Academy Participates in a Major Project on Implementing the Rights of Peasants

8 March 2022

The project aims at implementing the rights of peasants in 10 countries of the Global South: Philippines, India Nepal, Kenya, Niger, Mali, Burkina Faso, South Africa, Bolivia and Mexico.

Read more

A presentation on big data News

Placing Human Rights at the Centre of New Tech Regulations

14 March 2022

At a multi-stakeholder consultation, business, academia, civil society and state representatives discussed the gaps and ways forward in applying the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights to regulate business conduct in the technology sector.

Read more

Farmers in a field, India Event

Good Practices, Lessons Learned and Challenges in the Implementation of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Peasants

30 June 2022, 18:30-20:00

This event will discuss good practices, lessons learned and challenges in the implementation of UNDROP.

Read more

Prison visit by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in Haiti Short Course

The Implementation of International Human Rights Law

Fall 2022

This short course, which can be followed in Geneva or online, aims at presenting the institutions and procedures in charge of the implementation of international human rights law.

Read more

Plastic pollution Training

Protecting Human Rights and the Environment

12-16 September 2022

This training course will explore the major international and regional instruments for the promotion of human rights, as well as with their implementation and enforcement mechanisms; and provide practical insights into the different UN human rights mechanisms pertinent to advancing environmental issues and protecting environmental human rights defenders.

Read more

Madagascar, Miarinarivo district. Women transplanting rice. Project

The Rights of Peasants

Started in May 2008

After having provided academic support to the negotiation of the UN Declaration for 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.

Read more

Cover of the publication Publication

Implementing the Treaty Body Review 2020 – Where do we stand

published on May 2022

Felix Kirchmeier, Chloé Naret, Domenico Zipoli

Read more

Cover of the Publication Publication

Strengthening state accountability on business and human rights at international level

published on March 2022

John E. Grova

Read more