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.

Global South

The Geneva Academy is providing legal expertise to the project Rights-based and Agroecological Initiatives for Sustainability and Equity in Peasant Communities (RAISE) that promotes UNDROP’s implementation in the Global South. In this context, the Geneva Academy provides training to civil society and peasant’s organizations on UNDROP and international human rights mechanisms.

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

Voting at the UN Human Rights Council on the new mechanisms on the rights of peasants News

A NEW MONITORING MECHANISM FOR UPHOLDING PEASANTS’ RIGHTS

17 October 2023

In its last session, the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council (HRC). created an international monitoring mechanism on the rights of peasants and other people working in rural areas.

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A woman's hand holding seeds News

New Publication Explores the Right to Seeds in Africa

6 March 2023

The Right to Seeds in Africa explores the implications of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas for the right to seeds in Africa.

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News

Joint Statement on UNDROP By UN Human Rights Experts

19 December 2022

The Geneva Academy and its RAISE partners welcome the Joint Statement by 12 UN UN Special Procedures' mandate holders on the occasion of the 4th year anniversary of the adoption of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas (UNDROP).

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RESEARCHERS

Picture of Christophe Golay

Christophe Golay

Senior Research Fellow

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.

The Briefing The Right to Seeds in Africa written by Dr Karine Peschard, Dr Christophe Golay and Lulbahri Araya focuses on the steps that the African Union and African States shall take to better protect the right to seed, using UNDROP. Its Research Briefs – available in English and French – summarize this publication's key findings and recommendations

Integrating the Rights of Peasants and Family Farmers in the UN Decade on Family Farming and in the Implementation of the FAO Plant Treaty

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.

The Briefing Paper Implementing the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture in light of UNDROP - also available in Spanish, French and Portuguese - co-published with APBREBES is a collective effort by a broad panel of renowned experts. In addition to Dr Christophe Golay and Dr Karine Peschard from the Geneva Academy, it includes Professor José Esquinas, former Secretary of the FAO Treaty on Seeds, two former UN Special Rapporteurs on the Right to Food – Professors Hilal Elver and Olivier De Schutter – and the current one Professor Michael Fakhri. The Briefing Paper explains how UNDROP complements the FAO Plant Treaty and stresses the importance of taking UNDROP into consideration when implementing its article 9 on farmers’ rights.

Publications

Cover page of the research brief

Le Droit aux Semences en Afrique

June 2023

Christophe Golay, Karine Peschard

Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights

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Cover page of the research brief

The Right to Seeds in Africa

June 2023

Christophe Golay, Karine Peschard

Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights

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Briefing N° 22: The Right to Seeds in Africa

February 2023

Christophe Golay, Karine Peschard, Lulbahri Araya

The Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights

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The Rights to Food and Food Sovereignty in UNDROP

December 2022

Christophe Golay

The Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights

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Implementação do Tratado Internacional sobre Recursos Fitogenéticos para a Alimentação e a Agricultura (TIRFAA) à luz da Declaração das Nações Unidas sobre os Direitos dos Camponeses e Outras Pessoas que Trabalham em Áreas Rurais (UNDROP)

September 2022

Christophe Golay, Karine Peschard, Olivier De Schutter, Hilal Elver, José Esquinas, Michael Fakhri

APREBES and Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights

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Cover page of the Briefing

Implementing the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA) in light of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas (UNDROP)

September 2022

Karine Peschard, Christophe Golay, Olivier De Schutter, Hilal Elver, José Esquinas, Michael Fakhri

APBREBES and Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights

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Cover page of the Briefing

Aplicación del Tratado Internacional sobre Recursos Fitogenéticos para la Alimentación y la Agricultura (TIRFAA) a la luz de la Declaración de las Naciones Unidas sobre los derechos de los campesinos y de otras personas que trabajan en las zonas rurales

September 2022

Christophe Golay, Karine Peschard, Olivier De Schutter, Hilal Elver, José Esquinas, Michael Fakhri

APREBES and Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights

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La mise en œuvre du Traité international sur les ressources phytogénétiques pour l'alimentation et l'agriculture à la lumière de la Déclaration des Nations Unies sur les droits des paysans et des autres personnes travaillant dans les zones rurales

September 2022

Christophe Golay, Karine Peschard, Olivier De Schutter, Hilal Elver, José Esquinas, Michael Fakhri

APREBES and Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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The Right To Seeds And Intellectual Property Rights

November 2020

Christophe Golay

The Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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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Past Events

Peasants’, Rural Workers’ and Other Rural Peoples’ Key Role in Safeguarding the Environment

20 September 2023, 18:00-19:30

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The New Resolution on UNDROP Implementation at the UN Human Rights Council

19 September 2023, 12:00-13:00

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Le Droit aux Semences en Afrique

20 June 2023, 16:00-18:00

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Respecting, protecting and fulfilling the rights of peasants and other rural workers – A clever move in times of multiple crises

15 March 2023, 15:00-16:00

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The Implementation of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Peasants as a Leverage to Promote the Realization of the Right to Water: Experiences and Challenges

3 November 2022, 13:00-14:00

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Progress and challenges in the implementation of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Peasants in Colombia

15 September 2022, 19:00-20:30

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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

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Putting Peasants Rights Into Practice

10 December 2021, 09:15-15:15

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

11 May 2021, 14:30-16:30

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

15 April 2021, 15:00-16:30

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

15 October 2019, 18:30-20:00

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Public Conference: Peasants' Rights in Europe

30 September 2019, 13:30-17:00

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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

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