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UNDROP supports peasants’ struggles for human rights

On the occasion of International Human Rights Day on 10 December, FIAN International calls on governments around the world to fully implement UNDROP.

The UN Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas, adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2018, lays out the rights of peasants and small-scale fishers who feed most of the world’s population yet often struggle against state laws and policies promoting agribusiness and extractive industries as well as land and ocean grabbing.

UNDROP underlines the international community’s commitment to protect, fulfil, and respect peasants’ and fishers human rights. These include the right to food, land, seeds, biodiversity, water and other natural resources, food sovereignty, a healthy environment and effective access to justice.

Powerful recognition

The declaration is a powerful recognition of the importance of food sovereignty and agroecology and the legitimate struggles of peasants and fishers around the world defending their livelihoods and way of life. But it must be implemented in full.

For example, in submissions to the UN’s Universal Periodic Review of countries human rights records, FIAN and others have called on the Indian government to honor its UNDROP commitments in the state of Odisha.

Since 2005, peasant communities in Jagatsinghpur, Odisha have faced evictions, house demolitions  loss of livelihood, police violence, arbitrary arrests and criminalization while peacefully resisting the illegal decimation of their livelihoods, which mainly depend on paddy, betel vine and cashew cultivation as well as small-scale fishing. At least 40,000 people are affected.

The state has facilitated a series of illegal land grabs and ecological destruction, most recently to clear land for Indian steel major Jindal Steel Works (JSW) group. This blatant disregard for the human rights of local peasants is a clear breach of India’s own constitutional protections as well as international obligations laid out clearly in UNDROP.

Reflects legally binding obligations

UNDROP defends people’s right to oppose attempts to grab land, rivers, and oceans and recognizes peasants’ rights to conserve, use, exchange and sell traditional seeds which is under threat from laws that criminalize farmers for doing this. It also highlights the need for a coherent interpretation and application of existing international human rights obligations.

It was approved after nearly two decades of mobilization by La Via Campesina, the world’s largest movement of peasant food producers and other allies, including FIAN International.

UN declarations are not legally binding but often reflect legally binding international human rights obligations.

In the coming week, in the run up to the fourth anniversary of the adoption of UNDROP, FIAN International and La Via Campesina will provide support to local struggles with a new UNDROP website. It aims to gather knowledge and experience of UNDROP’s progress around the world and become a platform for sharing and supporting rural struggles.

For more information please contact Tom Sullivan


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