The project traces the development of human rights claims and protections specific to peasants. The struggle for peasant rights, which claims identity-based and vulnerability-based individual and communal human rights for self-identified peasants, has strong links to issues of social and global justice, agrarian reform, and sustainable development.
Initiated by social movements premised on the idea of self-representation by peasants and rural dwellers, the push for peasant rights has impacted domestic and international legislative processes, culminating in the ongoing drafting of a United Nations declaration on the rights of peasants and other people working in rural areas.
The peasant rights process highlights a number of normative and implementation gaps in international human rights law as well as the failure of the existing framework to respond to the effects of neoliberal agricultural and economic policies on rural agricultural workers and the food industry. The peasant movement proposes to commence filling these gaps through the recognition of ‘new’ rights, including a human right to land and a right to food sovereignty. The research project will monitor these ongoing developments, exploring the conceptualization of peasantness as an identity and a source of vulnerability and the rights-generative consequences of this frame. It will seek to conceptually situate these emerging rights in the existing human rights framework and examine the claim that these rights will undermine (more) universal rights protections.