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.

NEWS AND UPCOMING 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.

Read more >

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.

Publications

Cover of the publication

The Right to Seeds in Europe

October 2021

Christophe Golay and Fulya Batur

The Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights

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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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Past Events

The Right to Seeds and Intellectual Property Rights

6 July 2021, 14:00-16:00

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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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MORE ON THIS THEMATIC AREA

Guinea - Rural Women's Cooperative News

Towards a Feminist Methodology for Implementing the Right to Food in Agrarian Communities

10 September 2021

In an article published in The Journal of Peasant Studies, our Senior Research Fellow Dr Joanna Bourke Martignoni discusses – on the basis of research carried out at the Geneva Academy – the extent to which a feminist approach makes a difference to the realization of the rights to food, land, decent work, and social security.

Read more

Rwanda, on the outskirts of Kigali, Wa-Jali. Jeanne Françoise, a young girl reunited two years ago with her grandmother by the ICRC, stands in a banana orchard near her house. Project

Development and Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

Started in January 2008

This project aims to raise awareness about the complementarity of human rights and development by analyzing the relationship between economic, social and cultural rights and global development goals, namely the Millennium Development Goals adopted in 2000 and the Sustainable Development Goals adopted in 2015.

Read more

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 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

Cover page of the Briefing Publication

Practical Manual on the Right to Seeds in Europe

published on February 2021

Christophe Golay, Fulya Batur

Read more