At the Third Session of the Plant Treaty’s Governing Body a new resolution on Farmers’ Rights (PDF, 10KB) was adopted that marked a substantial step forward for the international understanding of these rights and their realization. This is not only due to the contents of the resolution (see below), but also because of the broad consensus that was reached among the Contracting Parties at an early stage in the discussions of the proposed text. The only substantial resistance against the proposed resolution text came from Canada, on one of the proposed operative provisions (PDF, 16KB), whereas all other contracting parties were largely united.
Reports from the substantial intersessional work on Farmers’ Rights was presented to the Governing Body as basis for its considerations, inter alia a report from an online consultation on Farmers’ Rights (PDF, 231KB), a summary of findings from the Farmers’ Rights Project (PDF, 221KB), including an international survey and country case studies, and the compilation from the Treaty Secretariat of submissions from countries and stakeholders before (PDF, 140KB)and after (PDF, 102KB) the submission deadline.
The original text for the 2009-resolution was proposed by Brazil on behalf of Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean. The adopted resolution (PDF, 10KB) has 10 preambular paragraphs and 5 operational paragraphs. The operational paragraphs set out that the Governing Body:
- "invites Contracting Parties to consider reviewing and, if necessary, adjusting its national measures affecting the realization of Farmers' Rights as set out in Article 9 of the International Treaty, to protect and promote Farmers' Rights". This means that Contracting Parties should consider reviewing their seed regulations and other measures affecting Farmers' Rights, particularly if these are affecting Farmers' Rights to save, use, exchange and sell farm-saved seed important to enabling farmers to continue to conserve and sustainably use plant genetic resources for food and agriculture.
- "encourages Contracting Parties and other relevant organizations to continue to submit views and experiences on the implementation of Farmers' Rights as set out in Article 9 of the International, involving, as appropriate, farmers' organizations and other stakeholders". This means that Contracting Parties and other relevant organizations that have not already submitted their views and experiences should do so in due time before the next session of the Governing Body.
- "requests the Secretariat to convene regional workshops on Farmers' Rights, subject to the agreed priorities of the Programme of Work and Budget and to the availability of financial resources, aiming at discussing national experiences on the implementation of Farmers' Rights as set out Article 9 of the Plant Treaty, involving, as appropriate, farmers' organizations and other stakeholders". To enable the implementation of this task, Contracting Parties and other stakeholders are advised to ensure that the Secretariat has the sufficient financial resources to convene such regional consultations. In light of its limited capacity, the Secretariat may also consider linking up with relevant institutions to carry out this task.
- "requests the Secretariat to collect the views and experiences submitted by Contracting Parties and other relevant organizations, and the reports of the regional workshops, as a basis for an agenda item for consideration by the Governing Body at its Fourth Session, and to disseminate relevant information through the website of the International Treaty, where appropriate". The input that is submitted to the Secretariat from Contracting Parties, relevant organizations and stakeholders as well as from regional workshops, would be decisive for the quality of the preparations of the Secretariat, and thus for the next steps of the Governing Body in terms of Farmers' Rights.
- "appreciates the involvement of farmers' organizations in its further work, as appropriate, according to the Rules of Procedure established by the Governing Body". The farmers' organizations provided important input to the Governing Body through their participation at the first two sessions. As farmers are closest to explaining their situation and needs with regard to the conservation and sustainable use of crop genetic resources as well as to Farmers' Rights, their continued participation was considered vital to the further work of the Governing Body. Farmers' organizations can participate at Governing Body Sessions as members of country delegations or as observers and have different possibilities of influencing decision-making processes in the Governing Body through such participation.
Text by Regine Andersen