An official website of the United States government

Explanation of Vote: Promotion of the Human Rights of Peasants
September 27, 2012

“Promotion of the human rights of peasants and other people working in rural areas”

Geneva, September 27, 2012

The United States is deeply concerned about the challenges faced by people living and working in rural areas around the world.  The Advisory Committee report cites the United Nations Millennium Development Project Task Force on Hunger, which shows that 80 percent of the world’s hungry live in rural areas and that 50 percent of the world’s hungry are subsistence farmers.  We take these food security challenges very seriously and structure many of our development programs around the world to directly benefit people in rural areas by building infrastructure, increasing land access, and promoting new, more productive crop alternatives and agricultural techniques.  We would particularly like to thank all those delegation who worked hard to bridge the divide on this initiative.

As we noted throughout the consultations, the topics addressed in the Advisory Committee report are worthy of discussion.  Yet, we believe it is premature to establish an Intergovernmental Working Group to negotiate a declaration instead of having a panel or seminar discussion to address these themes.  We request a vote and vote NO on this resolution for three reasons:

First, we are concerned the Advisory Committee exceeded its mandate by proposing a draft declaration of the rights of peasants without specifically being authorized to do so by voting members of the Human Rights Council.

We are also concerned that the decision to establish an open-ended working group to negotiate a declaration on human rights and peasants is premature.  States have not had sufficient opportunity to consider the issues the Advisory Committee raised in its report.  We believe the Council should follow the step-by-step approach to this topic that has served us well on other occasions when we have considered new and complex topics.  The Council first should have a greater opportunity to debate and discuss the issues the Advisory Committee has raised, including through panels or seminars that will give us an opportunity to better understand the problem and potential ways the Council can address it.  Experience in the Council has shown that proceeding step-by-step in this way is an important way to examine problems associated with implementation of existing obligations, solicit the views of States and human rights bodies with relevant expertise to contribute, and produce a consensus about a path forward.

Second, we are also concerned that the resolution being brought to this Council today for a decision does not adequately reflect the diverse views States expressed during the negotiations and respond to the many comments and concerns States expressed during that process.  In particular, we regret that the sponsors chose to disregard the well-considered compromise proposals offered by other members seeking to find common ground among delegations.

Third, the United States has concerns about the resource implications of this resolution.  This Council already has established numerous Working Groups.  To participate effectively in these Working Groups, delegations must devote scarce staff time to them.  We believe our limited staffing resources would be better served in other ways at this time.  Moreover, we are concerned that the preliminary Program Budgetary Implications report for this resolution indicates that it will incur costs of approximately $767,000.  Given current economic constraints affecting States worldwide, we are concerned about creating new mandates with such significant associated costs.

I thank you, Madame President.