Sunday, July 21, 2013

A Peasants' Magna Carta

A working group of the United Nations Human Rights Council met in Geneva last week to begin formulating a draft U.N. Declaration on the rights of peasants and other rural workers.   The era of permanent food shortages, foreign land grabs and multinational industrial agriculture has seen the peasantry beset by persecution and denial of their rights to food, land and human rights.

From the United Nations University's OurWorld 2.0:

Recent years have seen a sharp increase in the tendency to persecute, punish and criminalize social protest activities and the legitimate claims of those who promote food sovereignty and defend connected human rights, especially in cases related to large-scale economic investment.

...the second most vulnerable group of human rights’ defenders are those working on land, natural resources and environmental issues.

Criminalization of food sovereignty activists can be defined as the increasingly systematic and recurrent way in which baseless criminal actions — or criminal actions based on laws that do not comply with human rights and/or are discriminatory and biased in favour of powerful actors — are brought against people and social movements claiming food sovereignty and connected human rights, such as the right to adequate food, to land and territory, to water, and to freedom of assembly and association.

Members of social movements rallying for food sovereignty often face legal action based on ambiguous definitions of crimes (such as charges for supposed offenses affecting the honour or reputation of public servants), which in many cases are contrary to the law.  ...a number of irregularities are often observed during criminal proceedings, namely, arbitrary arrests, the excessive extension of pre-trial detention and unreasonable lengthening of criminal proceedings.

Members of food sovereignty social movements and their supporters can also be subject to criminalization via the direct or indirect actions of non-State actors such as companies, communications’ media, private security agencies and others. This is particularly the case when large-scale investment projects such as mining, hydroelectric dams, forestry and agribusiness are at stake.


Anonymous said...

In this day and age, the commons, and even the idea of a commons, has been lost.

The Mound of Sound said...

Yet restoring the legitimacy of the commons is fundamental to the survival of our civilization. Getting there, however, will be a struggle.

Anonymous said...

When I was a student at Dalhousie in Halifax, we used to go to 'the commons' to party and play music. So the idea of a commons is not totally lost.

But it will be a struggle to restore it, physically and intellectually, to a more productive state.

Anonymous said...

We could learn many lessons from our first nation sisters and brothers about how to use and share together the vast commons that is Canada.