by La Via Campesina
A United Nations (UN) special session on the rights of peasants and other people working in rural areas was hold in Palais Nations, Geneva from 2-6 February 2015.
Member states, UN bodies and peoples’ movement from all over the world participated in the session. La Via Campesina, the initiator from grass-root, send delegates from Africa, Asia, Americas and Europe. Other organizations of mobile pastoralists, fisher people, women and NGOs are also present.
The reason for this 2nd session is the UN Human Rights Council resolution 26/26 in 2014. The resolution gave a clear mandate to this intergovernmental working group to negotiate, finalize, and submit to the Council a draft UN declaration on the rights of peasants and other people working in rural areas. This process inside the UN has been a long struggle by La Via Campesina for almost 14 years.
In the session, the Chairperson-rapporteur, Angelica Navarro from Bolivia presented a draft declaration (link). Member states, UN bodies and organizations give inputs and comments for the whole week. Some of the comments are engaging with the contents, but some question the process. United States, European Union, Japan and South Korea are among the countries that seem reluctant to negotiate for a UN instrument on the rights of peasants and other people working in rural areas.
Meanwhile, La Via Campesina delegate contribute actively, especially regarding to the articles on right to land, right to biological diversity, right to seeds, right to decent income, ensuring rural women’s rights, and also state obligations.
Henry Saragih from Serikat Petani Indonesia says, “In general we welcome the new text because it addresses the main problems that peasants are facing and it includes the key rights that should be recognized and strengthened.”
While Genevieve Savigny from Confederation Paysanne comments, “We welcome that now in the declaration women are taken into account and very visible.”
The draft declaration will be the basis for the 3rd session, possibly to be held in 2016. Member states and participants agree to continue negotiation and the process within the UN. On Friday (6/2), at the end of the session, the session adopt the conclusion and report—documents to be available for public later.