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UN Human Rights Council appoints members of new Working Group on the Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas

The selection process for these experts took place from mid-October to early December 2023.

In October 2023, during its 54th session, the UN Human Rights Council adopted resolution 54/11, establishing a new Working Group on the Rights of Peasants and other People Working in Rural Areas, comprising five experts from the five UN regions. The selection process for these experts took place from mid-October to early December 2023.

The 5th of April 2024, during its 55th session, the UN Human Rights Council officially appointed the five experts (who were selected among 48 applicants):

  1. Ms. Uche Ewelukwa OFODILE (Nigeria) for African States.
  2. Ms. Shalmali GUTTAL (India) for Asia-Pacific States.
  3. Mr. Davit HAKOBYAN (Armenia) for Eastern European States.
  4. Mr. Carlos DUARTE (Colombia) for Latin American and Caribbean States.
  5. Ms. Geneviève SAVIGNY (France) for Western European and other States.

The imminent initiation of the Working Group’s activities marks a significant milestone in advancing the implementation of the rights enshrined in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas (UNDROP). This achievement is of particular importance to rural organizations advocating for their rights, including small-scale farmers, rural women, herders, artisanal fishers, landless agricultural workers, pastoralists, rural workers, nomads and Indigenous Peoples.

Rural communities have endured prolonged injustices concerning rights protection and access to social security systems, exacerbated by the dominance of the agribusiness sector in industrial food systems. This domination not only exposes them to heightened vulnerability to exploitation and repression but also obstructs their fundamental rights – among others, their right to land, seeds, food sovereignty, biodiversity, means of production – necessary to advance towards autonomy in dignified work. Furthermore, the establishment of the Working Group underscores a commitment from States to safeguard the rights of rural individuals and communities.

The newly appointed Working Group holds great promise for the promotion and implementation of the rights of rural communities, providing crucial support for their initiatives aimed at realizing these rights. Additionally, it will play a pivotal role for States, offering them technical cooperation, sharing examples of good practices, and providing concrete recommendations on the best ways to make their actions and national legal frameworks comply with the principles and provisions of the UNDROP. Since the adoption of the Declaration by the UN General Assembly in 2018, some States have made progress in implementing UNDROP at the national level. However, there has been a lack of institutional monitoring of its implementation at the international level. Moreover, the structural causes that led to the adoption of UNDROP, including various forms of discrimination, systematic human rights violations, and historical disadvantages, have persisted without adequate attention. In light of these challenges, the Working Group will be instrumental in facilitating the implementation of UNDROP. It will identify and promote best practices and lessons learned, foster collaboration between States’ authorites, rights holders and UN experts, and provide technical capacity-building support. By doing so, the Working Group aims to elevate the global prominence of UNDROP and address the underlying issues hindering the realization of rural communities’ rights.

What are the challenges facing the Working Group?

The primary challenge confronting the Working Group revolves around financial constraints, with limited funding available to adequately support its operations.

In addition to financial challenges, there are also operational challenges related to the engagement and participation of peasant and rural organizations. These organizations, in collaboration with their allies, must take ownership of the new mechanism, recognize and acknowledge its utility; disseminate it in respective networks; be able to explain the procedure; and develop strategies to use and feed it. This requires resources, capacity building, and coordination efforts.

Moreover, there may be challenges related to visibility, as peasant and rural organizations need to be prepared to actively contribute to the Working Group’s efforts. This includes duties such as submitting reports and complaints about violations and engaging with respective State authorities in the spaces provided.

By doing so, this involvement can help to increase the visibility of peasants, who are frequently marginalized in society, strengthen their dignity, and further foster their participation in local, national, and global governance.

Download the Fact Sheet on UNDROP  Working Group to learn more about its mandate.

By La Via Campesina, Fian International, CETIM

This article was first published on La Via Campesina’s website on April 8th, 2024 here.


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