Via Campesina

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La Vía Campesina (from Spanish la vía campesina, the campesino way, or the peasants' way) describes itself as "an international movement which coordinates peasant organizations of small and middle-scale producers, agricultural workers, rural women, and indigenous communities from Asia, Africa, America, and Europe".[1] It is a coalition of over 148 organizations, advocating family-farm-based sustainable agriculture and was the group that first coined the term "food sovereignty".[2] Via Campesina has carried out several campaigns including a campaign to defend farmer's seeds, a campaign to stop violence against women, a campaign for the recognition of the rights of peasants, a Global Campaign for agrarian reform, and others.[3]


The peasants' rights movement emerged out of the new rights advocacy that arose in the 1990s. This period was marked by the integration of human rights and development agendas, which historically focused only on political and civil rights but then expanded to include social and economic rights. As a response to these changes, the agrarian peasants' movement moved to challenge the hegemonic ideology of neoliberalism in global economics and find valid alternatives that would protect the rights of workers around the world. [4]

The organization was founded in 1993 by farmers organizations from Europe, Latin America, Asia, North America and Africa and it had its original headquarters in Belgium. It then moved to Tegucigalpa, Honduras. The headquarters office of Via Campesina is now in Jakarta, Indonesia. Henry Saragih of the Indonesian Peasant Union (SPI) is the General Coordinator.

In 2004 the organization was awarded the International Human Rights Award by Global Exchange, in San Francisco. [5]


La Vía Campesina is a grassroots movement, with activism at the local and national level. Members come from 73 different countries, which are organized into 9 regions. The International Coordinating Committee is represented by one man and one woman, each elected by their respective region's membership organizations. With about 164 local and national organizations as part of the movement, La Vía Campseina represents an estimated 200 million farmers around the world. [6]

The international secretariat changes its central location every 4 years based on the decision made at the International Conference. Past locations were Belgium (1993-1996), Honduras (1997-2004), and Indonesia (2005-2013). Since September 2013 the secretariat has been in Harare, Zimbabwe. [7]

The movement receives support from various charities, foundations and public institutions around the world.

Food Sovereignty[edit]

La Vía Campesina introduced the idea of food sovereignty at the World Food Summit in 1996 as "the right of peoples to healthy and culturally appropriate food produced through sustainable methods and their right to define their own food and agriculture systems." [8] Food sovereignty differs from food security, which was defined as "physical, social, and economic access to sufficient, safe, and nutritious food... at all times to meet [the population's] dietary and food preferences for an active and healthy life" by D. Moyo at the American Society of International Law annual meeting in 2007. [9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Global Small-Scale Farmers' Movement Developing New Trade Regimes", Food First News & Views, Volume 28, Number 97 Spring/Summer 2005, p.2.
  2. ^ "Global Small-Scale Farmers' Movement Developing New Trade Regimes", Food First News & Views, Volume 28, Number 97 Spring/Summer 2005, p.2.
  3. ^ Borras Jr., Saturnino M. “La Vía Campesina and its Global Campaign for Agrarian Reform..” Journal of Agrarian Change 8, no. 2/3 (April 2008): 258-289.
  4. ^ Shawki, Noha. (2014). "New Rights Advocacy and the Human Rights of Peasants: La Via Campesina and the Evolution of New Human Rights Norms. Journal of Human Rights Practice, 6(2), p. 311. doi: 10.1093/jhuman/huu009
  5. ^ Global Exchange Human Rights Awards. Past Honorees. Retrieved from <>
  6. ^ La Via Campesina: International Peasant's Movement. Organisation. Published 9 Feb. 2011. Retrieved from <>
  7. ^ La Via Campesina: International Peasant's Movement. Organisation. Published 9 Feb. 2011. Retrieved from <>
  8. ^
  9. ^ The Future of Food: Elements of Integrated Food Security Strategy for South Africa and Food Security Status in Africa, D. Moyo. Proceedings of the Annual Meeting (American Society of International Law). Vol. 101 (MARCH 28-31, 2007), pp. 103-108. Retrieved from <>.


Desmarais, Annette Aurélie (2007): La Vía Campesina: Globalization and the Power of Peasants, Fernwood Publishing, ISBN 978-0-7453-2704-4

Desmarais, Annette Aurélie (2002): Vía Campesina: Consolidating an International Peasant Movement" Journal of Peasant Studies, Vol. 29, No. 2

Martínez-Torres, María Elena, and Peter M. Rosset, "La Vía Campesina: the birth and evolution of a transnational social movement", Journal of Peasant Studies, 2010

External links[edit]