| 31-10-2014

Hearing alerts current state of right to food and seed regulations in Latin America

Peasants from Latin America and social organizations alert the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) in Washington to the current state of the right to adequate food and the impact of seed regulations

Buenos Aires, Heidelberg, Washington; October 31, 2014: Peasant and human rights organizations make a presentation today before the     Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) regarding food sovereignty, the right to adequate food, and the human rights impact of new seed regulations in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Despite the fact that rural production generated a significant increase in economic growth during the last decade, 80% of those who go hungry and 75% of those who live in extreme poverty are rural inhabitants.

At a public hearing during the Commission’s sessions in Washington, D.C., the organizations aim to alert the IACHR to the state of the right to adequate food in the region, particularly with regard to small-scale farmers and indigenous peoples; the impact of development models; the problems with norms that regulate the use of seeds; and the role of the justice system in these matters. 

In 2014,     ten years after the Right to Food Guidelines were established, the organizations contend that this right faces challenges in Latin America and the Caribbean, namely, the grabbing of land and natural resources for mining projects—as seen in the Hatillo community in Colombia and Kimsakocha in Ecuador—and for expanding agro-industry and cultivating crops such as palms, corn and soybeans—as in the cases of the Guaraní Kaiowá in Brazil and Monte Oscuro in Colombia. 

Communities have sought legal recourse but their access to justice has been ineffective. One example lies in the case of malnutrition in Camotán, Guatemala, where the State has been delaying implementation of the first judicial ruling that recognizes the violation of the right to food. The response by the state and private actors to community resistance and defense has tended to be violent and has criminalized peasants. This was true in the agrarian conflict in the Bajo Aguán, where people fighting for their land rights were murdered, and in Curuguaty–Marina Cue in Paraguay, where various peasants face a judicial process without due guarantees.

The     public hearing can be watched at 4:15 p.m. local time, in which organizations will ask the IACHR to regularly monitor the status of the rural population’s food and territorial rights; recommend measures to States to improve rural inhabitants’ living conditions, address the structural causes of rights violations, and adopt public policies that benefit them; monitor States’ extraterritorial obligations in cases involving multinational companies; keep watch on the growing criminalization of peasant struggles; develop specific standards to tackle these problems; and exchange information with the United Nations regarding progress on these issues. 

These demands are united conceptually by the defense of food sovereignty and, if addressed, could help reduce violations of human rights, in particular Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ESCR), and eliminate the structural discrimination that rural communities suffer today. In this framework, the promotion, defense and litigation of the right to adequate food can be carried out, along with condemnations and demonstrations regarding land grabs and the negative impact that new trends in seed regulations are having. To mitigate the harm to human rights, regulatory frameworks should be suited to each reality and aimed at preserving farmers’ traditional seed systems. 

The organizations that solicited the hearing are: the Latin American Coordinator of Rural Organizations (CLOC-Vía Campesina); FIAN International; Guatemala’s Social Collective for the Human Right to Food; Honduras’ Permanent Human Rights Observatory of the Aguán (OPDHA); and Argentina’s Center for Legal and Social Studies (CELS).  

For more information please contact:

    Diego Montón of CLOC-LVC

    Angélica Castañeda Flores of FIAN International

    Juan Carlos Morales González of FIAN Colombia

    Magali Cano of the Guatemala sin Hambre Campaign

    Gabriela Kletzel of CELS