Archive for the 'Peasants’ Rights' Category

The Proliferation of “Human Rights”- A Dictator’s Best Friend

This month at the UN saw the discussion of three seemingly “human rights” declarations – one on the Right to Peace, one on the Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas, and one on the Right of Peoples and Individuals to International Solidarity. But why are they unable to garner consensus? And why do so many democracies criticize them either for their lack of clarity, or their outright uselessness?

In a UN meeting on the Right to Peace, several democracies expressed concerns that trying to define such a right would possibly be dangerous to human rights, that it is too vague, that in fact the Right to Peace cannot be recognized as either an individual right or as a collective one, and that it does not reflect any international principles enshrined in the UN Charter.

In a meeting on the Right of Peasants, similar concerns were expressed. The EU stated that it is not convinced that a declaration is the best way forward, that the existing normative framework is sufficient to protect human rights and that the problem is one of implementation. South Korea also had “strong reservations” on whether it was really needed.

The Declaration on International Solidarity is no more promising, containing an array of watery phrases like:

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Peasants’ rights: the latest attack on the universality of human rights

The intergovernmental working group on “The Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas,” met for the first time during the week of 15-19 July, 2013. It was chaired by the Bolivian ambassador as mandated by Human Rights Council Resolution 21/19 of September 2012. At the time, Western countries had opposed this resolution, as another effort of Cuba and their allies to dilute the universality of human rights.

During the session, the US and the EU explained the main reasons for their negative votes. First, the Advisory Committee prepared the draft declaration without a mandate, that the HRC did not request. Second, the HRC was not the ideal forum to discuss this topic; for example, the Committee on World Food Security would be more appropriate. Lastly, the singling out of peasants for special treatment was unnecessary, since other existing international law instruments would suffice. For those three reasons, both delegations were not ready to negotiate the draft declaration. Some EU countries did add, however, that they still cared about peasants’ rights such as “poverty and hunger, ensuring food security and the maintenance of biodiversity and combating climate change.” Continue reading ‘Peasants’ rights: the latest attack on the universality of human rights’

Israel accused of “water apartheid” at U.N.’s Cuban-backed “Peasants Rights Conference”

Israel was accused of “water apartheid” today at a Cuban-backed UN Human Rights Council conference aimed at creating a new “Declaration on the Rights of Peasants,” a text the U.S. and EU say will only undermine the universality of human rights.

The Palestinian delegation, one of several co-sponsors of the initiative to declare a new set of collective rights for “pastoralists,” “nomads,” and “hunters and gatherers,” took the floor to allege that Israel “violated all human rights on a daily basis,” and to implore the UN to “end Israeli abuses of the rights of peasants in particular, and of Palestinians in general.”

Critics questioned the conveners’ agenda. “For the world’s highest human rights body to meet this week and say nothing about mass slaughter in Syria, or about upheaval, putsch, and bloodshed in Egypt, is outrageous,” said UN Watch executive director Hillel Neuer.

“It’s no surprise that this event is sponsored by non-democratic forces such as the Cubans, Venezuelans, Sri Lankans and Palestinians. They are trying to cover up their own abuses, and those of their allies, by focusing on their own agenda. Sadly, the session is one more politicized UN Human Rights Council session that has nothing to do with truly promoting human rights.”

The State of Palestine said that “Israeli aggression” in its 2008-2009 war with Hamas amounted to deliberately thwarting Palestinian agriculture. Settlers killed the cows of Palestinian “peasants” and uprooted olive trees.  They took land from farmers, and practiced a “water apartheid” where water is channeled by Israelis, leaving an inadequate and contaminated supply for the Palestinians. Israel starved Palestinian peasants on purpose, and uprooted them to make room for illegal settlers.

Although the UN now estimates that 5,000 individuals in Syria are being killed per month, the UNHRC meeting ignored the plight of Syrian peasants and farmers.

—  Reporting by Kayla Green

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