The International Forum for the Protection of Peasants’ Rights “SMALL PRODUCERS ON THE GUARD of FOOD SECURITY: The UN Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas”, initiated by academia, civil society organisations, farmers and private landowners with the participation of representatives from Poland, Romania, Switzerland, Italy and other countries.
The large-scale war of the russian federation against Ukraine has led to violations of the rights of Ukrainians, in particular those who work on the land and ensure food security. The impact of the war has had catastrophic consequences for large segments of the population not only in Ukraine but also around the world, creating hunger, instability and increasing inequality. In the context of the humanitarian crisis caused by the use of food as a weapon, academia, civil society organisations and the government are trying to find solutions that, in addition to overcoming these consequences, focus on and take into account the rights of peasants as people who play an important social role and have priority in recovery and development.
In 2018, the UN General Assembly adopted the Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas (UNDROP). Ukrainian academics and civil society organisations advocating for the protection of peasants’ rights were involved in the UN negotiation process and contributed to the Ukrainian government’s vote in favour of the UNDROP in the Human Rights Council. Today, the UNDROP’s provisions are being implemented in many countries as recommendations for public policy, training, awareness-raising activities, new judicial practice and other actions in the daily life of communities.
Peasants play a significant and essential role in ensuring food security, overcoming hunger and malnutrition, preventing the negative effects of climate change, preserving biodiversity, etc. In this regard, the UNDROP serves as a fundamental legal mechanism for strengthening the sustainability of food systems in the context of the multidimensional challenges of our time, including those caused by the full-scale war unleashed by russia.
The aim of the International Forum “SMALL PRODUCERS ON THE GUARD of FOOD SECURITY: The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas” is to draw attention to the UNDROP, raise public awareness and stimulate dialogue between stakeholders on the implementation of its provisions to ensure that the interests of peasants are taken into account in the process of rebuilding the agricultural sector, ensuring its resilience during the war and in the post-war period in order to strengthen food security, improve peasants’ well-being and sustainable rural development. The Forum continued the work started by the academic community, Ukrainian farmers and civil society at the previous Forum on these issues held in 2022.
During the opening session, “The Importance щf The Peasant-Farmer Model for the Post-War Economic Rebuilding of Ukraine”, the participants of the Forum were greeted by the Director of the Institute for Economics and Forecasting of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, Academician Valeriy Heets, Director of the Institute for Rural and Agricultural Development of the Polish Academy of Sciences, Professor Monika Stanny, and Member of the Ukrainian Parliament, Member of the Committee on Education, Science and Innovation Ivan Kyrylenko.
The first session, “The UN Declaration on the Rights of Peasants: Five Years since its adoption by the UN General Assembly”, was moderated by Ramona Duminicioiu, President of the Association of Small Farmers of Romania, Eco Ruralis.
Within the framework of this session, the following speakers delivered speeches: Olena Borodina, Head of the Department of Economics and Policy of Agrarian Transformation, Institute for Economics and Forecasting of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, Corresponding Member of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine; Ramona Duminiciou, President of the Association of Small Farmers of Romania, Andrea Ferrante, Head of the International School for Agroecology “Agroecology School”, Viktor Yarovyi, Senior Researcher at the Institute for Economics and Forecasting of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, Morten Hartvigsen, expert of the FAO Regional Office for Europe and Central Asia, Raimund Jehle, Head of the FAO Regional Office for Europe and Central Asia.
The second session, “Food Security in the Time of War: Challenges and Opportunities”, was moderated by Ruslan Homych, Head of the Lebediya farm, Head of the Volyn Regional AFZ.
The session also featured presentations by Andriy Kuzmych, Head of the Rivne Association of Farmers and Private Landowners, Svitlana Gaponyk, Representative of the Kharkiv Association of Farmers and Private Landowners, Oleg Bondarenko, Head of the Kalyna Farm and Representative of the Association of Farmers and Private Landowners of Sumy Region, Vasyl Burlaka, Head of the Avangard Farm, Kateryna Skrylnyk, Head of the Fortuna-2015 Farm and Founder of the Skrylnyk Family Farm, Oleksandr Palariev, Head of the Frumushyha-Nova Farm, and Maria Lukianova, First Deputy Head of the Berezhany TC in 2019-2023.
The third session, “Implementation of Peasants’ Rights in Post-War Agricultural and Rural Development”, was moderated by Viktor Sheremeta, Vice President of the Association of Farmers and Private Landowners of Ukraine and Deputy Minister of Agrarian Policy and Food of Ukraine in 2017-2019. During this session, presentations were also made by Taras Vysotskyi, First Deputy Minister of Agrarian Policy and Food of Ukraine, Pierre Vauthier, Head of the FAO Country Office in Ukraine, Christophe Golay, Strategic Advisor on Human Rights and Fellow of the Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights (Switzerland), Natalia Hendel, Fellow of the same Academy and Senior Researcher at the Institute of Information, Security and Law of the National Academy of Legal Sciences of Ukraine, and Ivan Tomych, Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada Committee on Agrarian Policy and Rural Development 2002-2006 and Head of the Union of Ukrainian Peasants.
The Fourth session was moderated by Viktor Goncharenko, President of the Association of Farmers and Private Landowners of Ukraine. This session was devoted to analysing the situation with the implementation of the decisions of the previous Forum, held in 2022, as well as discussing the content of the Resolution of this year’s Forum.
In particular, Oleksandr Zubenko, Vice President of the Ukrainian Farmers Union, Head of Monolith Farm, Mykola Myrkevych, Head of Zemlya Farm, Ivan Zayets, Member of Parliament of Ukraine of the first, second, third, fourth and sixth convocations, and Nazar Mukhachov, civil society representative, took part in a wide-ranging discussion of the Resolution.
The participants agreed with the recommendations and proposals formulated during the discussion to amend the final text of the Forum’s Resolution and to prepare appeals to the government and international organisations based on the results of its work.
Proceedings of the Forum: