The discussion on the UN draft declaration on rights of peasants and other people working in rural areas in Sri Lanka

Movement for Land and Agricultural Reform (MONLAR), Sri Lanka, organized a discussion on the UN draft declaration on rights of peasants and other people working in rural areas at the MONLAR office in Colombo on Wednesday, 19th April 2017. Representatives from farmer organizations, Civil Society organizations, trade unions, Community based organizations, NGOS and peasants were participated in the consultations.

The objective of the discussion was to disseminate the information about the draft UN declaration and its significance for the farmers and also for MONLAR as a farmer movement and to collect inputs to submit for the next round of negotiations in Geneva.

Accordingly, the following inputs from the discussion were generated.

  1.  Article 6 – Rural Women’s Rights – Women’s rights to production and production instruments should be ensured.
  2. Article 9 – Freedom of Movement – Section 3 – Should include “which are fare for all the parties”, after the international agreements, as most of the international agreements specially the economic and trade agreements are discriminative against one party.
  3.  Article 12- Rights to participation and information – it should be emphasized the obligation of the states to provide information.
  4. Article 14 – Access to Justice – It was argued that the in addition to bring justice, states should ensure the steps taken to prevention of future occurrences of the same violations.
  5. Article 15 – Right to Work – Section 1 – It was argued that this section is risky, because it will allow cooperates to recruit the people for their industries and say it is with the consent of those people. Section 2 – Should include word “ecological” before food systems.
  6. Article 16 – Right to safety and health at work – Section 3 – (C) – It was argued that this could allow the criminalization of some organic farming practices. ex; claims that paddy farming emitting methane extensively.
  7. Article 17 – Section 4 – People should make aware about the nutritional levels and ingredients of foods.
  8. Article 23 – Right to avoid GM and terminator seeds should be included, because there are evidences of forceful attempts by the government and cooperates on the farmers to use GM and terminator seeds.
  9. Article 26 – States should ensure the right to health by developing and implementing a people’s health policy and health should be provided free of charge by all the states.
  10. Article 27 – States should ensure the right of the peasants to resettled proximity to farming lands.
  11. And in general, there was a request to see the possibility of getting the declaration officially in Sinhala and Tamil languages.

It was decided to bring the declaration down to the village levels to raise awareness of the farmers on the declaration. In doing so, the Sinhala translation of the declaration will be further developed and a Tamil translation will be produced soon. In addition to that, a small booklet summarizing and analyzing the declaration will be printed in local languages for better understanding by the farmers.

A consultation with the policy makers will also be planed before the next Geneva negotiations in May 2017.

At the same time, a follow-up meeting will be convene after the Geneva negotiations together with its outcomes.

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