U.N. General Assembly adopts declaration to protect rights of rural workers

NEW YORK, Dec. 19 – The United Nations General Assembly adopted on Dec. 18 Japan time the Declaration for the Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas which recognizes and protects the rights of small-scale and family farmers.

The declaration, which was passed with 121 votes in favor, aims to encourage all U.N. member nations to better protect rights of farmers and allow them to attain an adequate standard of living, as well as providing support to unions and cooperatives for such people.

As in November when the declaration was up for voting at the U.N. General Assembly’s Third Committee, Japan abstained.

The declaration recognizes the importance of small-scale farmers’ roles and values in maintaining and developing the rural community. It also states the need to support and protect the right of cooperatives.

Although the declaration is not legally binding, its adoption at the U.N. General Assembly is significant in that all member states should be committed to take measures, provide support and allocate funding to realize what is stated in the declaration.

A draft of the declaration was first presented in a report by an advisory panel of human rights experts submitted to the U.N. Human Rights Council in March 2012. In September the same year, Bolivia proposed the launch of an intergovernmental working group to elaborate on it, and it was finally adopted after more than six years of discussion.

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