Advancing the right to food; Brazil must respect the vital work of peasants and environmental defenders
Human Rights, 04/03/2020
On March 4th, during the 43rd session of the Human Rights Council, the Right Livelihood Foundation delivered a statement during the Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the right to food. The foundation expressed its concern over threats received by the Movimento dos Trabalhadores Rurais sem Terra, 1991 Right Livelihood Award Laureate, and asked the Special Rapporteur what could the Human Rights Council do to ensure that states respect the work of human rights defenders.
Thank you Madam President,
The Right Livelihood Foundation welcomes the report of the special rapporteur and appreciates that protecting civil society and human rights defenders is mentioned as a step that states should undertake to advance the right to food.
As the report mentions, despite producing more than 70% of locally consumed foods, peasants and smallholders are not seen as fundamental by states and their human rights are often breached. In Brazil, for instance, evictions, expropriations, violence, withdrawal of social rights and destruction of the environment are a daily reality.
We are particularly concerned about President Bolsonaro’s plan to classify the activities of the Movimento dos Trabalhadores Rurais sem Terra, 1991 Right Livelihood Award Laureate, as terrorist activities. The MST has been working for decades with peasants’ families in Brazil, defending democracy and human rights. Their actions seek to defend the most vulnerable, in face of a government that wants to make land grabbing legal, handing over 70 million hectares of public land to transnational companies who, as the report mentions, destroy the environment and increase fires in the Amazon.
Madam Special Rapporteur,
You underline in your report that civil society cannot allow impunity for human rights violations but what actions should the Human Rights Council undertake in this realm, so that states like Brazil respect the vital work of peasants and environmental defenders?