UN Human Rights Council Passes Resolution On Peasants’ Rights Including Right To Seeds 01/10/2018 by Catherine Saez, Intellectual Property Watch 3 Comments Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)The United Nations Human Rights Council last week passed a resolution on the rights of peasants, to be confirmed by the UN General Assembly in November. The resolution includes an article on the right to seeds, and in particular the right to save, use, exchange and sell farm-saved seeds, which has been a longstanding demand of peasants’ organisations. The resolution also asks that seed policies and intellectual property laws take into account the rights, needs and realities of peasants. The 39th session of the Human Rights Council took place from 10-28 September in Geneva On 28 September, the UN Human Rights Council adopted a Resolution on the Rights of Peasants and Oher People Working in Rural Areas. According to a UN spokesperson, the Council adopted the UN Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas (annexed to the resolution), which had been prepared by a working group set up [pdf] by the Council in September 2012. The working group was specifically tasked to finalise a draft based on a draft produced by the Council’s Advisory Committee, which itself began working on the issue in 2010, according to the spokesperson. After the adoption of the resolution, it is up to the UN General Assembly to adopt this UN Declaration as a last formal step, he told Intellectual Property Watch. The Human Rights Council is composed of 47 member states. Iceland was elected after the United States resigned its membership in June. The declaration was supported by Algeria, Bolivia, Cuba, Ecuador, El Salvador, Egypt, Haiti, Kenya, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Philippines, South Africa, Togo, Venezuela, and the State of Palestine. According to the voting sheet [pdf], the resolution was approved through a vote, with 33 countries in favour, 3 against, and 11 abstentions. The three countries who voted against were Australia, Hungary, and the United Kingdom. Among those who abstained are Brazil, Belgium, Germany, Japan, Spain, and South Korea. Switzerland, China, Kenya, South Africa, and Tunisia voted for the resolution. Article 19: Right to Seeds, Protection of TK Article 19 of the declaration says peasants and other people working in rural areas should have the right to seeds. This includes: the right to the protection of traditional knowledge relevant to plant genetic resources for food and agriculture; the right to equitably participate in sharing the benefits arising from the utilisation of those resources; the right to participate in decision-making relating to the conservation and sustainable use of those resources; and the right to save, use, exchange and sell their farm-saved seed or propagating material. This right to save, use, exchange and sell farm-saved seed has been a longstanding demand of peasants and civil society groups, in particular in the context of intellectual property protection on new varieties of plants. This text echoes Article 9 of the International Treaty [pdf] on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture. Article 19 also asks that peasants have the right to maintain, control, protect and develop their own seeds and traditional knowledge; and requests that states “shall take measures to respect, protect and fulfil the right to seeds of peasants.” The article further requests that seeds of sufficient quality and quantity are available to peasants at “the most suitable time for planting, and at an affordable price.” Peasant seed systems should be supported and promoted, as well as agrobiodiversity, Article 19 further directs, and notes that states shall recognise the rights of peasants to “rely either on their own seeds or on other locally available seeds of their choice, and to decide on the crops and species that they wish to grow.” Seed policies, plant variety protection and other intellectual property laws, certification schemes and seed marketing laws should respect and take into account the rights, needs and realities of peasants, Article 19 concludes. International Peasants Organisation Hails Adoption In a press release, La Via Campesina, a global farmers’ organisation said after 17 years of “long and arduous negotiations,” peasants are “only a step away from having a UN Declaration that could defend and protect their rights to land, seeds, biodiversity,” and local markets. Once adopted, according to the group, “the UN Declaration will become a powerful tool for peasants and other people working in rural areas to seek justice and favourable national policies around food, agriculture, seeds and land.” “This has been a long tough path but as peasants, as people who have seen the worst of poverty and neglect, we are tough too and we never give up,” Elizabeth Mpofu, general coordinator of La Via Campesina, said in the release. Image Credits: Flickr – Bruno Kvot Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Related Catherine Saez may be reached at email@example.com."UN Human Rights Council Passes Resolution On Peasants’ Rights Including Right To Seeds" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.