The world says yes to the rights of peasants – words must now be followed by deeds
The United Nations General Assembly in New York yesterday adopted a path-breaking declaration on the protection of the rights of peasant families and other people working in rural areas. Official Switzerland too had played a leading role in promoting this declaration. The rights it enshrines must now be translated into action.
In the 28 articles of the « United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and Other People Working In Rural Areas» (UNDROP) adopted on 17 December, the General Assembly sets out the most important rights of peasants around the world. Switzerland had already championed the Declaration during the negotiations, and its supporting vote in New York sends a clear and commendable signal in favour of the rights of rural population groups.
Yet the real work is only just beginning. The Declaration provides States with policy instruments through which to strengthen the rights of peasants to their land, their seeds or their traditional knowledge, thereby effectively combating hunger and poverty. But if the UNDROP is to be more than mere lip service, these rights must also be protected and implemented. This is a challenge to civil society organizations and networks in the countries and to the States themselves.
In Switzerland, a broad alliance of civil society organizations had actively championed this Declaration and will now also be campaigning for the concrete implementation of the UNDROP.
Declaration on the rights of peasants and other People
The United Nations General Assembly in New York adopted a path-breaking declaration on the protection of the rights of peasant families and other people working in rural areas.
What is now needed first of all is a systematic analysis of the challenges arising from the UNDROP for Switzerland. The Federal Council is urged to draw up a report on the concrete implementation of the UNDROP. This should provide, for example, action guidelines for the government agencies involved as well as for Swiss foreign representations, SDC cooperation offices or the policy directorates of the FDFA. Besides, an analysis should be made of the challenges posed by the implementation of the UNDROP for Switzerland’s agricultural policy – currently undergoing expert consultation – as well as for development or trade policies, for instance, with respect to bilateral trade agreements or laws on intellectual property rights.
Second, the alliance wishes to strike up a civil society dialogue with the Administration in order to explore possible synergies in the implementation of the UNDROP in and by Switzerland.
Third, individual organizations will raise awareness regarding the UNDROP here in Switzerland and in their work with partners abroad and will support the latter in implementing the Declaration in their respective countries.
By a large majority the United Nations Human Rights Council last Friday adopted a declaration protecting the rights of peasants and other people working in rural areas. These include fishing communities and nomadic peoples.