Why did USA and EU countries fail to support work on a draft UN declaration on the rights of peasants and other people working in rural areas?

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(Geneva, October 5, 2015) On the afternoon of October 1st 2015, the United Nations Human Rights Council adopted by majority a resolution where it decides that the open-ended intergovernmental working group, with the mandate to negotiate, finalize and submit to the Human Rights Council a draft United Nations declaration on the rights of peasants and other people working in rural areas, shall continue the process for the next two years.

The resolution was presented by the governments of Bolivia, Ecuador, Cuba and South Africa. It was sponsored among others by Switzerland, Brazil, Eritrea and Argentina, in a joint effort from all regions to support this decisive step. In the final vote, only the US government voted against it. Governments of Europe have abstained from voting and have continued with the same bloc-voting position as in June 2014, in the vote on resolution 26/26.

In total, 31 countries voted in favor, 15 abstained, and only one voted against:

In favor (31): Algeria, Botswana, Congo, Ivory Coast, Ethiopia, Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, Morocco, Namibia, Nigeria, South Africa, Sierra Leone, Bangladesh, China, India,Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Maldives, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Vietnam, Argentina,Bolivia, Brazil, Cuba, El Salvador, Paraguay, Venezuela, Russia / Votes abstention (15): France, Germany, Ireland, Netherlands, Portugal, United Kingdom, Macedonia, Montenegro, Latvia, Estonia, Albania, Mexico, Qatar, Japan, Korea / negative Feedback(1): United States.

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La Via Campesina, FIAN and CETIM, have helped to position – for the first time within a UN mechanism – a project intended to fill the gaps in human rights legislation of the rural population and rural fishing communities, nomadic peoples, pastoralists, rural workers, landless, rural women and indigenous peoples. A model of peasant agriculture in both the North and the Global South, based on agroecology and equal relations between peasants, is advocated.

The current draft statement submitted by the government of Bolivia in Geneva in February 2015 during the last working group, advocates a universal charter containing a set of rights in order to improve the conditions of those who live in rural areas and produce 80% of the food in the world.

Appreciation is due to the Governments of Bolivia, South Africa, Cuba and Ecuador for their continuous efforts within the Human Rights Council to carry out this initiative emanating from the peasant movement, highlighting an example of good governance, dialogue and involvement of farmers’ organizations, civil society and governments.

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