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FARMERS' RIGHTS IN ITPGRFA:

New resolution on Farmers' Rights under the International Treaty

A new resolution on Farmers' Rights marks a substantial step forwards for the international understanding of the importance of these rights and for their realization. Here you can read about the contents of the new resolution, the negotiations that led to its adoption, and how the resolution can be implemented. You will also find links to central documents and relevant information.

A new resolution on Farmers' Rights was adopted at the Third Session of the Governing Body of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (Plant Treaty) in Tunis on 4 June 2009. The new resolution marks a substantial step forwards for the implementation of Article 9 of the Plant Treaty. 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 issue of Farmers' Rights has been a difficult topic at earlier Governing Body sessions, and at the Second Session of the Governing Body in 2007, there was substantial resistance among several industrialised countries against the resolution text proposed by the developing countries (G77 and China). Only through intense negotiations in a contact group was it possible to arrive at a consensus text in that session. At this Third Session, however, the situation had changed. The only substantial resistance against the resolution came from Canada, whereas all other Contracting Parties were largely united. This may indicate an emerging joint understanding of the crucial importance of Farmers' Rights for the implementation of the Plant Treaty as well of central contents and challenges in this regard.

The 2009-resolution was proposed by Brazil on behalf of Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean. It has 10 preambular paragraphs and 5 operational paragraphs (see full text here). These are the tasks that the Governing Body has embarked on through the 5 operational paragraphs:

Task 1: Reviewing and adjusting seed regulations and other measures
Through the resolution, 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. Read why here >.

Task 2: Contracting Parties and organizations to submit views and experiences
In the resolution, the Governing Body "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 Treaty, 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. Also Contracting Parties and other relevant organizations that have already submitted, and have gained new views and experiences in the meanwhile, may submit their contributions to the Secretariat. The Farmers' Rights Project considers making available on this website a form based on our research on the operationalization of Farmers' Rights, as informal guidance to Contracting Parties and other relevant organizations on what to report. Read why here >.

Task 3: Convening regional workshops on Farmers' Rights
In the resolution, 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 International 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. Read why here >.

Task 4: Further involvement of the Secretariat towards the fourth Governing Body Session
Through the Resolution, the Governing Body "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, will 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. It would be useful if all submissions are submitted in due time before the Fourth Session, so that they can be made available by the Secretariat at the Treaty website. It would also be useful if the agenda item for this session is prepared in the form of a working document, possibly with elements of a draft resolution - as derived from the submissions. Read why here >.

Task 5: Involvement of farmers' organizations
Through the Resolution, the Governing Body "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 has 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 is 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. Read more here >.


The 2009 resolution has great potentials for the realization of Farmers' Rights: If Contracting Parties review and, if necessary, adjust their seed regulations and other national measures to promote Farmers' Rights and thereby enable farmers to continue to conserve and sustainably use crop genetic diversity, this would in itself represent a major step forwards. If they report on this and other experiences and views regarding Farmers' Rights to the Governing Body, this will provide a solid basis for identifying further steps at the Fourth Session. Also regional workshops will be instrumental in promoting the realization of Farmers' Rights at the national level, as well as promoting input to the Governing Body. If the Secretariat makes all submissions and reports from the regional workshops available on the internet, it will facilitate the exchange of experiences across countries and regions and enable external analysis of potential further steps - which could feed into the Secretariats own preparations for the agenda item on Farmers' Rights at the Fourth Session. The participation of farmers' organizations at the Fourth Session will be important to decision making on further steps to protect and promote Farmers' Rights.


Note to readers:
During the discussion on Farmers' Rights many statements were made by Contracting Parties as well as non-governmental organizations, including farmers' organizations. We are collecting these statements here, as far as possible. So far the list is not exhaustive (see below under relevant links and documents), and we hope to gather many more statements. All help in this regard is most welcome.


Read more about:
   Side-event on Farmers'Rights: Challenges, Success Stories and Ways Forward
   Information and documents on agenda item 13: sustainable use (Art. 6)


Relevant links and documents:
   Text of the new resolution on Farmers' Rights
   Before and after versions of the contested paragraph of the new resolution on Farmers' Rights
   Paper to the Governing Body from the Farmers' Rights Project: State of knowledge
   Views and experiences submitted to the Governing Body before and after 31 August 2008
   Results of an Online conference on ‘Options for Farmers’ Rights’
   Note on the implementation of Farmers' Rights submitted by France
   Note on the implementation of Farmers' Rights submitted by Norway
   Statement made by Surya Adhikari from Nepal during the discussion on Farmers' Rights
   Statement made by Luis Alonso Meza from Honduras during the discussion on Farmers' Rights
   Statement made by Norway during the discussion on Farmers' Rights
   Homepage of the Plant Treaty



Pages in this sub-section:
   FARMERS' RIGHTS IN ITPGRFA
   On the International Treaty
   Central provisions on Farmers' Rights
   Follow-up in the Governing Body of the Treaty
   The Benefit-Sharing Fund of the International Treaty
   New resolution on Farmers' Rights under the International Treaty
   Little progress on sustainable use at the Third Session of the Plant Treaty
   Global Consultations on Farmers' Rights
   The Fourth Session of the Governing Body
Top top
 In this section:
  ABOUT FARMERS' RIGHTS
  Farmers' Rights in the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture
  Why Farmers' Rights matter
  The contents of Farmers' Rights
  History of Farmers' Rights in the FAO
  Farmers' Rights in the literature
  Civil Society Organizations' approaches to Farmers' Rights

Photo: G. Ulutuncok

Page last updated 31 January 2011