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Setting the Standard for Global Resource Rights Defense

December 2010

The United Nations designates December 10 as International Human Rights Day. At Grassroots International, we give special recognition to the efforts of our partners and allies around the world—but for them, it’s just another day in the trenches to realize these rights as communities in action.

From the Middle East to Latin America and the Caribbean to Africa and Asia, our partners engage in determined struggles for resource rights—the human rights to land, water, and food. Despite enormous obstacles like land grabs, poisoned water, and decreased access to local food, our partners build local solutions to solve problems from the bottom up.

In Gaza, Israeli authorities continually shift the buffer zone inward on the crowded population, decreasing access to some of the most fertile agricultural land and leaving people homeless—sometimes making them refugees for the second or third time in their lives. Still, local organizations like the Palestinian Agricultural Relief Committees (PARC) provide opportunities for Gazans to work on the land and call for change.

In the occupied West Bank, Israeli agribusiness thrives off of the land and labor of the Jordan Valley Palestinians. The produce is often exported to Europe, leaving a generation of farmers landless and unemployed, causing food insecurity in their families. But local Palestinian organizations like MA’AN Development Center and the Union of Agricultural Works Committees (UAWC) are determined to give them the seeds and tools they need to continue an agrarian heritage at the heart of their nation.

Our partner the Association of Rural Workers (ATC) in Nicaragua scored a hard-earned victory with the passage of a new law that controls participation by transnational companies in the local food system and promotes the restoration of local food culture and peasant agriculture.

In Asia, where more than three billion people depend on rice for food and livelihood, agribusiness threatens to degrade life-giving rice farmlands with genetically modified seeds and non-sustainable methods. Grassroots International’s grantee, Save the Rice Campaign, is fighting back in 14 countries to protect good nutrition, biodiversity, and precious traditional crops.

And in Haiti, cholera has sickened more than 100,000 people and poisoned an already fragile water supply. Organizers and local social movements like the Peasant’s Movement of Papaye (MPP) work to install networks of clean cisterns across the country and advocate for national and international policies that could have prevented this health crisis before so many lives were lost.

The list goes on, highlighting dynamic work for human rights far too numerous to celebrate in just one day.

During this special season of giving, we are inspired by the work that is happening on the ground, linking communities in a global movement for justice. Their tenacity creates hope for human rights progress, no matter how seemingly insurmountable the barriers.


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