Defending Peasants' Rights

European Parliament Resolution on the situation of the Guaraní Kaiowá peoples in Brazil

On the 24th of November 2016, the European Parliament Adopted the resolution on the situation of the Guaraní Kaiowá in the Brazilian State of Mato Grosso do Sul (2016/2991 (RSP)). The parliament convened to express their deep concern over the proposed amendments to Brazils 1988 constitution as it threatens indigenous peoples rights to their ancestral territory. The parliament also addressed the violence against indigenous peoples, specifically referencing the SESAI official data which reports 400 murders of indigenous peoples belonging to Guarani Kaiowa, 14 of which where leaders. Through its resolution, the European Parliament reminds Brazil of their responsibility to protect international human rights particularly the rights of indigenous peoples, i.e. the Guarani Kaiowa.

This resolution points to several rights promoted by the Peasant Declaration:

Rights to Life, Liberty, Physical and Personal Security

The European Parliament’s condemnation of the violence perpetrated against the Kaiowá peoples reaffirms the Brazilians government obligation to assure the rights to life and liberty of the Kaiowá peoples (art 7(1)). Furthermore, the resolution acknowledges the constitutional right of indigenous peoples to their ancestral land and that the threat of dispossession ensues corporate control of land and resources resulting in increased anti-indigenous interests (art 7(4b)).

2016:2991 RSPArt 7(2) Peasants and other people working in rural areas shall not be subjected to arbitrary arrest or detention, to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

-Art 7(4b) States shall provide effective mechanisms for prevention of, and redress for any action which has the aim or effect of dispossessing them of their lands, territories or resources, or depriving them of their means of subsistence,

Freedom of Thought Opinion and Expression

The resolution also condemns the violent retaliation to the peaceful protests the Kaiowá peoples engaged in (peaceful assembly art 10(1),(3).

-Art 10(1) Peasants and other people working in rural areas have the rights to freedom of thought, conscience, religion, opinion, expression and peaceful assembly.[1] They have the right to express their opinion, in accordance with traditions and culture, including through claims, petitions and mobilizations, at the local, regional, national and international levels

– Art 10(3) Peasants and other people working in rural areas have the right, individually and collectively, to participate in peaceful activities against violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms. States shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration.

The Right to Seeds and Intellectual Property Rights

On the occassion of the third session of the UN Human Rights Council working group for a Declaration on the rights of peasants and other people working in rural areas, Dr. Christophe Golay from the Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights, presented the following “legal analysis on the rights of peasants and other people working in rural areas: The Right to Seeds and Intellectual Property Rights

Dr. Golay legal analysis draws on the right to seeds in the context of the Declaration on the rights of peasants. He argues for the need to recognize the right to seeds in the Declaration while also addressing the recognition of the right to seeds and intellectual property rights in international and national law, exposing their tensions and presenting alternative ways to resolve this in the Rights of Peasants Declaration and outside the human rights system.

Basic Principles and Guidelines on Development-Based Evictions and Displacement (2007)

This principles and guidelines presented by the Special Rapporteur on adequate housing to the UN Human Rights Council ‘focus on providing guidance to States on measures and procedures to be adopted in order to ensure that development-based evictions are not undertaken in contravention of existing international human rights standards and do not thus constitute “forced evictions”.’ Their aim is to provide a practical tool to assist States and agencies in developing policies, legislation, procedures and preventive measures to ensure that forced evictions do not take place, and to provide effective remedies to those whose human rights have been violated, should prevention fail.’ Basic principles and guidelines on development-based evictions and displacement.

UN Principles on Housing and Property Restitution for Refugees and Displaced Persons (Pinheiro Principles)

16701230221_8596043eac_oIn August 2005 the UN Sub-Commission on the Protection and Promotion of Human Rights approved the Pinheiro Pinciples on Housing and Property Restitution for Refugees and Displaced Persons. The principles tackle the effective implementation of housing, land and property restitution programmes and mechanisms. Pinheiro Principles

You can also take a look at the Handbook on Housing and Property Restitution for Refugees and Discplaced Persons for the implementation of the Pinheiro principles.

United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (1982)

The UN Convention on the Law of the Sea establishes a legal order for the seas and oceans. The main objectives of the Convention are:
1. Facilitate international communication,
2. Promote the peaceful uses of the seas and oceans,
3. The equitable and efficient utilization of the seas and oceans resources,
4. The conservation of their living resources,
5. The study, protection and preservation of the marine environment.
UN Convention on the Law of the Sea

FAO: Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries in the Context of Food Security and Poverty Eradication

These Voluntary Guidelines (2014) were developes as a complement to the 1995 FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries. The Guidelines provide complementary guidance with respect to small-scale fisheries in support of the overall principles and provisions of the Code. They are intended to support the visibility, recognition and enhancement of the already important role of small-scale fisheries and to contribute to global and national efforts towards the eradication of hunger and poverty. The Guidelines support responsible fisheries and sustainable social and economic development for the benefit of current and future generations, with an emphasis on smallscale fishers and fish workers and related activities and including vulnerable and marginalized people, promoting a human rightsbased approach. Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries in the Context of Food Security and Poverty Eradication.

Committee on the Rights of the Child, General Comment No. 16: States’ obligations regarding the impact of the business sector on children’s rights

Through General Comment No.16, the Committee provides states with guidance on how to 1. Ensure that the activities and operations of business enterprises do not adversely impact on children’s rights; 2. Create an enabling and supportive environment for business enterprises to respect children’s rights, including across any business relationships linked to their operations, products or services and across their global operations; and 3. Ensure access to effective remedy for children whose rights have been infringed by a business enterprise acting as a private party or as a State agent. CRC General Comment No.16


Photographer Daniel Alfonso León
Photographer: © Daniel Alfonso León, Colombia 2009

This 17th of April, on the occasion of the International Day of Peasants’ Struggle, VIA Campesina, FIAN International and CETIM invite organizations and individuals to contribute to “Defending Peasant rights’, a blog that raises visibility over the increasing body of knowledge for the defense of the rights of peasants, male and female, worldwide. It is a space to gather different types of resource materials such as: declarations, documents and studies claiming peasants’ rights; existing constitutional rights, national laws and policies; rulings of courts protecting peasants’ rights; legal expert opinions and academic works; and UN treaties, declarations, principles and guidelines recognizing peasants’ rights.

The blog is available in English, Spanish and French. We are making an open call to organizations and individuals around the globe to send us any of the documents enlisted above that will contribute to complementing the body of knowledge for the defense of peasants’ rights. All materials will continue to be published in their original language in the respective blog and can be used as long as the source is mentioned. We hope that these materials will be useful for grassroots and social organizations, NGOs, scholars and journalists, for the defense of peasants’ rights on the ground, as well as for legislative and policy making processes at national and international level.

All entries in English, Spanish and French or questions regarding the content of such, can be emailed to

Committee on Economic Social and Cultural Rights, General Comment No. 20 on non-discrimination in economic, social and cultural rights


In 2009 the Committee on Economic Social and Cultural Rights issued a General Comment on non-discrimination in economic, social and cultural rights. The Committee’s interpretation is that States parties must immediately ‘adopt the necessary measures to prevent, diminish and eliminate the conditions and attitudes which cause or perpetuate substantive or de facto discrimination.’ The Committee adds that ‘the exercise of Covenant rights should not be conditional on, or determined by, a person’s current or former place of residence; e.g. whether an individual lives or is registered in an urban or a rural area, in a formal or an informal settlement, is internally displaced or leads a nomadic lifestyle. Disparities between localities and regions should be eliminated in practice by ensuring, for example, that there is even distribution in the availability and quality of primary, secondary and palliative health-care facilities.’ General Comment No. 20 on non-discrimination in economic, social and cultural rights.

Committee on Economic Social and Cultural Rights, General Comment 15 on The right to water

In 2002 the Committee on Economic Social and Cultural Rights issued a General Comment on the right to water. According to its General Comment, states parties should, among others, take steps to ensure that rural and deprived urban areas have access to properly maintained water facilities and that access to traditional water sources in rural areas are protected from unlawful encroachment and pollution.