The adoption of the United Nations (UN) Declaration
on the rights of peasants and other people working in
rural areas (UNDROP) by the UN General Assembly in
2018 was the result of 6 years of
negotiation at the UN Human Rights Council. It aims
to respond to the multiple forms of discrimination
faced by peasants and other people working in rural
areas, who are the first victims of extreme poverty and
hunger, and to protect and promote their rights and
• The implementation of the UNDROP represents a unique
opportunity to re-balance power relations in rural areas,
and to guarantee that states will respect, protect and
fulfil the rights of peasants and other people working in
rural areas, who have too often been marginalised within
international, regional and national laws and policies. It
is key for redressing various forms of discrimination and
historical disadvantage that have affected peasants and
other people working in rural areas for too long.
2018 ‘UN Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and Other
People Living in Rural Areas’—although it is not a binding
instrument—explicitly states that ‘Peasants and other
people working in rural areas have the right to access and to
use in a sustainable manner the natural resources present in
their communities that are required to enjoy adequate living
conditions. They also have the right to participate in the
management of these resources (UN Human Rights Council
Resolution 39/12 2018)’. The declaration on the Rights of
Peasants provides an extension to rights-based approaches
to conservation. Wherein, local communities are recognized
not merely as stakeholders whose rights need to be taken
into account but as having a fundamental right to participate
in decisions that affect them. A universal principle that exists
in rights-based approaches is the right to participate in decision
making as a key process through which right holders
can make effective claims to duty bearers such as the state
and other actors (Madzwamuse 2010).
CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
The system of human rights protection that has
developed since the adoption of the Universal Declaration
of Human Rights in 1948 has been enhanced in 2018 by
a new instrument to protect the rights of peasants and
other people working in rural areas, some of the most
discriminated against and marginalized people in the world.
After the adoption of the UNDROP in 2018, it is crucial to
make sure that states take all necessary steps to implement
it, with the full and meaningful participation of peasants
and other people working in rural areas, and with adequate
support from international and regional organizations.
© Ulet Ifansasti / CIFOR
Empowered and motivated communities effectively exercising their rights to sustainably manage, benefit from and conserve their natural resources.
To support Southern African communities’ efforts to exercise their rights and improve their livelihoods by promoting greater global, regional and national commitment and action towards policy, market and legal reforms that secure their rights to own, control and benefit from natural resources, especially land, wildlife, forests and water ...
Resource Africa works to ensure that rural communities in Southern Africa are able to exercise their rights to access and use in a sustainable manner the natural resources present in their communities that are required to enjoy adequate living conditions.
To achieve this we believe that it is essential that policy making processes at international, regional and national levels are informed by and respond to the perspectives and needs of rural communities and that rural people should be equal partners in policy making and have the ability to address policy making processes directly. Our work is founded on the recognition, informed by decades of practice and scholarship, that policy is most likely to lead to sustainable environmental management when it strengthens the rights and enhances the livelihoods and well being of those immediately dependent upon it.
Sustainable use of wildlife and ecosystems by communities and rural people is a basic human right recognized in both national and international law.
In placing recognition of rights as an obligation at the heart of our work we recognize the interdependence between human rights and the integrity of the natural environment. We believe that effective environmental protection both promotes and depends on the exercise of human rights as an obligation and must bring to the forefront related issues such as land and resource tenure, governance, enhanced livelihoods, gender equality, equity and empowerment. This makes direct connections between human wellbeing and the environment by clearly connecting biodiversity conservation, sustainable ecosystems management and human rights to secure livelihoods, creating and/or maintaining productive environments and ensuring all people live in dignity.
Our focus is specifically on rural communities as it is these people in whose hands the future of wildlife and other natural resources primarily lie and whose livelihoods are threatened when their rights to manage their resources are not recognized. Nature and biodiversity currently account for up to 60% of GDP of the poorest in African societies and whilst globally wealth is increasing, Africa is the only region where in absolute terms people are becoming increasingly poorer. In many African countries the majority of iconic species occur outside of protected areas. For example, 60% of elephant range is outside of protected areas and typically on communal areas. This makes rural communities de facto guardians of wildlife and the fast degrading ecosystems on which we all rely.
African conservation strategies are underpinned by pragmatic recognition that the fate of wildlife lies mainly in the hands of the rural farmers who live on the front-line with wild animals and that people must have appropriate incentives if they are to live with dangerous animals.
Sustainable use is the use of species and ecosystems at a level that maintains their potential to meet current and future human needs and aspirations and prevents their long- term decline. It includes both consumptive forms of use (harvesting, fishing, hunting, forestry, agriculture) and non-consumptive (photographic tourism). It further requires reducing any adverse or unintended impacts on the broader ecosystem to acceptable levels, consistent with long term species and ecosystem conservation. Use takes place as part of complex social-ecological and political economy systems, and its sustainability is affected by cultural, economic, social, and political dynamics.
Explore more in our Knowledge Hub and a list of recent research and reports on sustainable use here
… lies at the heart of all we do. Firstly, collaboration with representative networks of communities and individual community representatives engaged in natural resource management. This may include providing information and capacity building to strengthen networks and enable communities to be aware of and effectively exercise their rights, as well as advising on appropriate policy making forums and how to negotiate and interact with these effectively. We also collaborate with other civil society organizations, governments and scientists regionally and internationally, to ensure synergy, access to appropriate expertise and effective delivery.
Historically, RA has collaborated mainly within the conservation community and revitalizing these networks will be important. However, we recognize that given the shifting context it will be necessary to work with and gain insights beyond this traditional realm, seeking expertise, insights and collaboration with organisations involved with human rights, social and environmental justice and climate change whilst engaging with the broader political economy affecting resource rights. Emphasis will be placed on bridging the divisions between science, networks, policy and practice.
In order to achieve our objectives, RA seeks to act as catalyst for and create synergy between new and existing programmes, networks and partners, relying on and enhancing the implementation capacity of partners and networks, rather than on the development of significant internal implementation capacity. This will enable us to have extensive influence and outreach but maintain small operating overheads and cost-effectively achieve objectives.