A small-scale farmer in Kathmandu, Nepal, selling her products.
Photo: © Shutterstock/de Visu

New monitoring mechanism to uphold peasants’ rights

The UN Human Rights Council is to appoint a new group of experts in spring 2024 which will be responsible for promoting and monitoring farmers’ rights. This facilitates the world-wide sensitisation of authorities and civil society towards the challenges of smallholder food production.

A milestone in peasants’ rights has been reached with the recent adoption of a new special procedure to monitor the UN Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas (UNDROP) by the Human Rights Council. The partners of the RAISE project on Human Rights in Food Systems, were actively lobbying for the creation of this international monitoring mechanism.

The RAISE project stands for Rights-based and Agroecological Initiatives for Sustainability and Equity in Peasant Communities and is led by the Swiss NGO Fastenaktion. The partners in the international RAISE consortium are Vétérinaires sans Frontières Suisse, the Rural Women’s Assembly (RWA), DKA Austria and local peasant organisations.  It is co-financed by the Swiss Development Cooperation (SDC). RAISE activities support the implementation of UNDROP, and especially the right to food, the right to land, the right to seed, and the right to participate in decision-making. The activities take place in seven focus countries in Africa and Asia (South Africa, Kenya, Burkina Faso, Niger, Mali, India and Nepal). The strategic partner of the RAISE project is the Geneva Academy of International Law and Human Rights. 

New mechanism will address implementation of UNDROP

In the process leading up to the adoption of the UNDROP resolution to create a new special procedure, the RAISE partners have been engaged in discussions and side-events, voicing the importance of a monitoring mechanism on peasants’ rights. While the UN Declaration on the rights of peasants and other people working in rural areas (UNDROP) was already adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2018, this new monitoring mechanism will address its implementation. The working group will be responsible for the promotion of the UNDROP and is to identify best practices and lessons learnt, foster collaboration and undertake country visits to alert on violations of the rights of peasants and other people working in rural areas. 

The creation of this international mechanism marks a significant step forward in addressing an issue that is of paramount importance for peasants: they and their organisations now have a platform to shed light on the violations they face and draw attention to the numerous obstacles they confront in the pursuit of their rights. 

This mechanism therefore represents a pivotal political and legal tool for advancing the realisation of the rights enshrined in UNDROP.

The creation of this working group also demonstrates the growing international recognition of the important role that family farming plays in food production, preserving biodiversity and protecting the environment. Throughout the negotiations, peasants’ organisations played a crucial role in this breakthrough, supported by RAISE project partners. 

The Working Group will be made up of five independent experts from different continents and is to be operational in spring 2024. 

RAISE will work closely with this new mechanism to ensure its success and is also to continue to closely monitor the situation of peasants' rights around the world. The RAISE partners are implementing activities to empower peasants to know their rights and to develop strategies to claim them, to sensitise duty bearers on the rights of peasants and on how to bring forward their implementation, to strengthen global frameworks on peasants’ rights through influencing UN mechanisms, and to create global awareness to further advance peasant rights.

The Swiss Development Cooperation (SDC) is co-financing RAISE as part of a broader support of several activities implementing human rights based approaches to food systems transformation at national and international levels.

Author: Christa Suter, Fastenaktion, Switzerland, Contac: suter@fastenaktion.ch​


More information:

Link to United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas : resolution / adopted by the Human Rights Council on 28 September 2018

Read also press release of Fastenaktion, Oktober 2023


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