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UN Human Rights Council adopts a landmark Declaration on the rights of peasants and rural workers – fight now moves to the UN General Assembly

On September 28, the United Nations’ Human Rights Council voted to adopt a wide-ranging ‘Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas’. The fight for wider adoption now moves to the UN General Assembly, comprising all member states.

The Declaration sets out a comprehensive framework of protection for the rights of peasants and rural workers struggling to defend livelihoods and small-scale agriculture from corporate and state dispossession and destruction. These include the right to a decent income and social security; the right of small rural producers to preserve control of their land, their seeds and other genetic resources; and the right to full participation in government policies affecting food production and distribution which impact their communities.

The text adopted by the HRC is currently under discussion by UN member states, leading to a vote by mid-November and a second, final vote in December.

At the HRC, Australia, Hungary and the UK voted against adoption. Despite a vote by the European Parliament earlier this year encouraging EU governments to support the Declaration, Belgium, Croatia, Germany, Slovakia, Slovenia and Spain were among the countries which abstained (the others included Brazil, Japan and Korea).

The IUF was involved throughout the process of elaborating the text of the Declaration.

A strong majority in favor is by no means certain at the General Assembly. National trade union centers should be pressuring their governments to vote in support of this important instrument for defending rights, livelihoods and the environment which sustains the food we all depend on.



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