RWA South Africa: UNDROP shouldn’t just be a paper policy!

The Rural Women’s Assembly in South Africa is intensifying its advocacy efforts to fast track the implementation of peasants rights as enshrined in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas (UNDROP) in South Africa.

During a Rural Women’s Assembly webinar to commemorate the International Day of Peasants Struggles on 17 April 2023, RWA South Africa joined hundreds of rural women farmers across the SADC region who are demanding the urgent implementation of UNDROP in the region.

During the webinar the keynote speaker, Raffaele Morgantini from the Centre Europe-Tiers Monde (CETIM), highlighted the significance of UNDROP and explained that since the United Nations General Assembly’s adoption of UNDROP in 2018, “peasant communities around the world have now in their hands a legal instrument enshrined in international human rights law which recognises specific and fundamental rights of peasant communities, and there is no turning back from this.”

In 2022, as part of its UNDROP advocacy efforts, the RWA South African chapter made a submission with RWA’s demands through the United Nation’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) in Switzerland. The RWA South Africa submission focused on the Right to Food, the Right to Land with Water as well as the Right to Seeds. In November 2022, UN Member States such South Africa’s Human Rights record was examined based on reports by other Member States, Human Rights institutions and Civil Society Organisations. 

Norah Mlondobozi, a farmer based in Limpopo, emphasized that the “right to food is a basic human right enshrined in the 1996 South African Constitution. This promise raised the hopes of poor and vulnerable people for a better and dignified life. Nevertheless, after almost three decades this fundamental human right is still a dream and yet to be realized. Millions of people in South Africa continue to face hunger, poverty and malnutrition.” She explained that implementing UNDROP would help to realise the right to food. But despite that the South African government signed the UNDROP declaration five years ago, there is currently no policy for UNDROP implementation. Mlondobozi said that UN member states such as Canada recommended that South Africa should uphold the rights in UNDROP and “consult, cooperate in good faith with indigenous people on legislative or administrative measures that may affect them.”  Mlondobozi added that given South Africa’s rising food insecurity and hunger crisis, it is “high time the South African government heed the call of Canada, New Zealand and Tunisia to involve us (rural women and peasants) in food policy making.” Lungisa Huna from RWA South Africa explained that the RWA South Africa chapter was aiming to meet with “duty bearers and with our own government to really find a way that is positive and that is going to engage in the implementation of UNDROP.”  

Denia Jansen, a landless RWA member based in the Western Cape, explained that RWA South Africa’s One Woman-One Hectare campaign was an important intervention for not only UNDROP, but for countering Gender-Based Violence (GBV) as well. Jansen said that RWA South Africa, “started the One Woman-One Hectare campaign as a strategy to help us fight for land for women and also to link the issue of GBV to access to land. We use the One Woman-One Hectare as a strategy to fight for women’s equality in accessing land rights. The rights of women must be recognized by all governments.” 

As part of its 2023 advocacy strategy, RWA South Africa will follow up on the recommendations made to the South Africa government which were made during the UPR. The South African government had agreed to all the recommendations.  Following South Africa’s review, a report is due concerning these recommendations, but to date this report has not become available. RWA South Africa welcomes the establishment of a UN Special Rapporteur for peasant rights which is expected be in place by September 2023.

Leave a Reply