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

Started in January 2018

For over 10,000 years, peasants have always saved, selected, exchanged and sold seeds, and used and reused them to produce food. This is essential to peasants' right to food, as well as to global food security and biodiversity.

But the protection of intellectual property rights over seeds at the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV), and the promotion of commercial seed systems have posed serious challenges to the protection of these customary practices, and to the maintenance of peasant seed systems and agro-biodiversity. In Europe, the creation of seed catalogues exclude peasants’ seeds, which in many cases cannot be offered for sale, and peasant seed systems are not well protected.

To respond to these challenges, the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council notably adopted a UN Declaration on the rights of peasants and other people working in rural areas (UN Declaration), in which the right to seeds is recognized.

The Geneva Academy supported, via dedicated research, the preparatory work that led to the negotiation of a UN Declaration (2008-2012) and the negotiation itself (2013-2018).

Objectives

This project aims at raising awareness among European seed networks and peasant organizations on the importance of the UN Declaration.

The project will notably identify, via the publication of a guide and expert workshops, 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.

This project received a grant from the Fondation Salvia.

RESEARCHERS

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.

Opportunities and Obstacles to the Implementation of the Right to Seeds in Romania

2 February 2021, 13:30-15:30

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The Implementation of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Peasants in France: Focus on the Right to Seeds

2 December 2020, 17:30-19:30

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Peasants’ Rights in Austria

11 November 2020, 15:00-17:30

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Publications

Cover page of the Briefing

Practical Manual on the Right to Seeds in Europe

February 2021

Christophe Golay, Fulya Batur

Geneva Academy and the International Land Coalition

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cover of the publication

Dreptul La Semințe Și Drepturile De Proprietate Intelectuală

February 2021

Christophe Golay

The Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights

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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

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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

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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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Cover page of the briefing

The Right to Seeds in Europe

April 2019

Adriana Bessa, Christophe Golay

Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights

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NEWS AND EVENTS

EU Commission Flags News

Practical Manual on the Right to Seeds in Europe

15 March 2021

This practical manual focuses on the steps that the European Union (EU) and the EU Member States shall take to better protect the right to seeds in Europe.

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Pumpkin seeds News

New Publication Outlines Concrete Recommendations to Implement the Right to Seeds in Europe

20 May 2019

Our new publication The Right to Seeds in Europe focuses on the steps that the European Union (EU) and EU member states shall take, via the implementation of the UN Declaration, to better protect this right in Europe.

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Wheat field News

New Research Project on the Right to Seeds in Europe

9 January 2018

The project uses the new draft UN Declaration on the rights of peasants and other people working in rural areas as a reference to promote changes in European laws, policies and trade agreements to ensure that these facilitate the realization of peasants’ right to seeds.

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MORE ON THIS THEMATIC AREA

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23 November 2020

Our new Research Brief The Right to Land and Other Natural Resources details the content of this right, states’ obligations, as well as accountability mechanisms for its enforcement at national, regional and international levels.

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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

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From its adoption to its content and implementation, this training course provides a comprehensive overview of the United Nations Declaration on the rights of peasants, as well as tools to protect and promote the rights of peasants, rural women, fisher, pastoralist and nomadic communities, as well as agricultural workers.

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This six-year project aims to provide evidence-based knowledge for the formulation and promotion of innovative strategies and policy options that improve food sustainability.

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Started in January 2015

This project examines the relationship between the right to food and gender equality in ensuring food security in the context of land commercialization in two case-study countries, Cambodia and Ghana.

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Cover page of the Briefing Publication

Practical Manual on the Right to Seeds in Europe

published on February 2021

Christophe Golay, Fulya Batur

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