GENEVA (16 December 2022) – Despite recognition that peasants and rural workers are essential to providing everyone food and protecting the planet’s biodiversity, the world has treated them as expendable, UN experts said today. Ahead of the 17 December anniversary of the adoption of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas, the experts made the following statement:
“Four years ago, the UN General Assembly recognised the past, present and future contributions of peasants and rural workers to global food security, development and environmental conservation and adopted a ground-breaking Declaration on the rights of peasants and other people working in rural areas (UNDROP). Regrettably, they still lead a precarious existence.
While small-scale farmers and peasants feed around 70-80 per cent of the world, they shockingly represent 80 per cent of the world’s hungry and 70 per cent of those living in extreme poverty. Besides their disproportionate exposure to environmental degradation, toxic substances, land grabbing and climate change, peasants and rural workers also suffer from the burdens caused by poverty, hunger and malnutrition. More recently, their situation has become even more dire, due to the direct effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as its subsequent harmful impact on food and cost-of-living crisis.
We commend peasants and rural workers across the world who have shown great resilience in the face of multiple challenges and intersectional oppression facing them and their communities. However, world governments must do more to protect, support and listen to peasants and rural workers. The UNDROP is a call for justice, based on the culmination of grievances and struggles of the world’s peasantry. It is also a plan of action for governments to respect, protect and fulfil the rights of peasants while also effectively regulating transnational corporations to prevent harm. UNDROP provides a framework to enable a just and sustainable transition to a food system where biodiversity and human rights flourish.
The current global crises make it more urgent than ever to enact the commitments in UNDROP and fulfill everyone’s human rights. We have witnessed some commendable efforts to incorporate UNDROP provisions in national laws and policies, in what is a unique and unprecedented opportunity to redress various forms of discrimination, systematic violations and historical disadvantage that have affected peasants and rural workers for many decades.
We therefore urge States to show leadership and implement the UNDROP by incorporating its norms and standards into national laws and policies. We encourage the UN human rights mechanisms to closely review state practices in the context of the UNDROP provisions. We also call on the United Nations agencies to systematically apply the UNDROP in their programmes and activities, as well as to support and empower peasants and rural workers in throughout their work, both at policy and operational levels.
The UNDROP provides not only a recognition of peasants’ and rural workers’ rights and contributions, but it also serves as a roadmap for States, the UN, business enterprises and other stakeholders to take concrete actions on the ground.”
The experts: Michael Fakhri, Special Rapporteur on the right to food; Saad Alfarargi, Special Rapporteur on the right to development;Marcos Orellana, Special Rapporteur on toxics and human rights; David R. Boyd, Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environment;Ms. Fernanda Hopenhaym (Chairperson), Ms. Pichamon Yeophantong (Vice-Chairperson), Ms. Elżbieta Karska, Mr. Robert McCorquodale and Mr. Damilola Olawuyi, Working Group on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises; Olivier De Schutter, Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights; Pedro Arrojo-Agudo, Special Rapporteur on the human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation; Ian Fry, Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights in the context of climate change; Obiora C. Okafor, Independent Expert on human rights and international solidarity
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