La Via Campesina
This is the website of La Via Campesina – An International Peasant’s (campesino) Movement whose members come from 81 countries, organised into 9 regions. La Via Campesina is a grassroots movement that operates on local, national and international levels since 1993. Its 182 local and national member organisations represent approx. 200 million farmers from all over the world.
La Via Campesina offers a unique example of a global movement that works to address many cross- cutting issues such as agroecology and peasant’s seeds, climate and environmental justice, dignity for migrants and waged workers, food sovereignty, international solidarity, peasant’s rights and agrarian reforms. Well known for its explicit fight against free trade and capitalism, transnational corporations and agribusinesses as well as patriarchy and gender inequality the movement has gained a lot of support and recognition for its work. Apart from campaigning and advocating for their goals, the movement also seeks to address issues of inequality and representation in their own internal structures. For example, the International Coordinating Committee of La Via Campesina is represented by one man and one woman per region and one youth per continent, each elected by their respective region's member organisations.
There are many lessons to be learned for La Via Campesina movement that are relevant especially to those working on advocacy and on building partnerships. Born out of shared struggles of small-scale farmers across the world and in direct response to the Uruguay round of GATT that established WTO’s Agreement on Agriculture (AoA) and Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), La Via Campesina has introduced the term “food sovereignty” to global discussions on food procurement and has been recognized as a relevant stakeholder in international arena by UN bodies such as FAO and UNHCR.
La Via Campesina example suggests that radical critiques (of transnational capitalism, patriarchy, workers’ exploitation etc.) can be voiced internationally, over a sustained period of time (25 years) by a large international coalition of very diverse partners. The website offers many examples of the ongoing campaigns and activities, organized by the members of the movement, as well as all of Via Campesina’s publications and many videos (on Via Campesina TV). Arguably what keeps the movement relevant and alive is the fact that what its representatives are advocating for emerges as a direct consequence of their existential needs and struggles in everyday lives. The article on food sovereignty by Peter Rossett (link below) presents very well the key aspects of the kind of food regime that Via Campesina is arguing for, as well as a critique of the dominant model.