Declaration first global forum of producers of crops declared to be illicit

09 October 2009

Producers of coca leaves, cannabis and opium poppy from Latin America and the Caribbean, Africa and Asia and experts and NGO representatives gathered at the first world forum in Barcelona, Spain from January 29 to 31, 2009 in Barcelona, Spain. The forum provided a space for sharing experiences and reflecting on ways to protect the human rights of affected communities and promote alternative models of sustainable development. 


Those present in Barcelona, Spain from January 29th to January 31st, 2009, in the First World Forum of producers and their representatives as well as Indigenous groups from Africa, Asia and Latin America coming from different countries where three plants are cultivated that have been declared to be illicit – coca leaves, cannabis and opium poppy – want to contribute to the UNGASS 1998-2008 review process with the following declaration:


Article 17.1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights establishes that “Everyone has the right to own property alone as well as in association with others”; Article 1.2 of the International Agreement on Civil and Political Rights states that, “All peoples may, for their own ends, freely dispose of their natural wealth and resources without prejudice to any obligations arising out of international economic co-operation, based upon the principle of mutual benefit, and international law. In no case may a people be deprived of its own means of subsistence.”

Article 2.2 b of the 169 Convention of the International Labour Organization (ILO) on Indigenous and tribal peoples in independent countries calls on all governments to develop actions designed to protect these peoples which should include measures: “Promoting the full realisation of the social, economic and cultural rights of these peoples with respect for their social and cultural identity, their customs and traditions and their institutions;”;

Article 7.1 of the same Convention establishes that “The peoples concerned shall have the right to decide their own priorities for the process of development….”;

Article 11 of the Declaration of Indigenous Peoples approved September 13, 2007, states that, “Indigenous peoples have the right to practise and revitalize their cultural traditions and customs. This includes the right to maintain, protect and develop the past, present and future manifestations of their cultures…”;

Article 24.1 states; “Indigenous peoples have the right to their traditional medicines and to maintain their health practices, including the conservation of their vital medicinal plants, animals and minerals,..”

and, last, The 1988 UN Convention against Illicit Trafficking in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances, stipulates in Article 14.2: “The measures adopted shall respect fundamental human rights and shall take due account of traditional licit uses, where there is historic evidence of such use, as well as the protection of the environment



Governments and the international community should recognize the historical character of the relationships between plants, humans, communities and cultures, and States should recognize these plants declared “illicit” as the natural and cultural heritage of humanity. In many countries where such plants are cultivated, there are traditional and cultural uses, although differences between plants, countries and regions of origin have to be taken into account. The responsible use of such plants in producing regions is intrinsically linked to ancestral knowledge and, in some cases, also satisfies basic health and food needs and is part of essential medicines. We demand respect for a community’s right to cultivate plants to satisfy the uses previously mentioned; persons should not be criminalized and/or penalized for cultivating such plants. In all cases, other beneficial uses of plants should be recognized whether in their natural state or in their derivative form for industrial and/or commercial use. Native peoples and other producers of plants declared to be illicit have a preferential right to collective ownership of plants and their use. We appeal for the appropriation of knowledge of these plants and their use by producers and consumers. We producers should raise public awareness through all possible channels and influence the formulation of public policies concerning the use of these plants.


In the great majority of countries, forced eradication – manual or aerial fumigation - is implemented by military or police forces, local militia, and through intervention by foreign governments and companies. This often results in the militarisation of producer regions involving them in anti-insurgent policies as well as producing severe human rights violations of civilian populations. We reject the use of aerial fumigations as well as the criminalisation of small-scale producers, whether for traditional use or other purposes. Crop substitution can only be implemented based on results obtained in rural development and in consultation with the producers.


Crops declared to be illicit should not be considered the cause of local, regional and national problems but represent a symptom of development issues and the crisis of the international system and national States. Experiences with the Alternative Development model have, in general, been negative with exceptions not so much in practice but in their potential. Alternative Development projects should not be imposed, nor should they be conditioned on prior eradication of crops declared illicit or on any other factor which would result in the abuse of the human rights of growers. Alternative Development should not focus solely on economic factors but more on integral human development. This would require the inclusion of such citizen rights as access to health, education, transport and communication, land and titles as well as the facilitation of production and food security.


Producers’ associations/organizations of plants declared to be illicit are, in some regions, strong but in others incipient, inexistent or prohibited by the State. In many countries, relationships with government authorities are conflictive because the authorities do not comply with signed agreements. Geo-political influence by world powers creates negative relationships between producers and their governments. Producers’ organizations should be recognized, should take part in debates and decision making at all levels, with their own governments, donors and the UN. International organizations and governments should recognize and respect that each country has a different reality and that this should be taken into account when proposing policies.

Political Declaration FMPCDI(pdf, 46.23 KB)
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