The Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Ms Hilal Elver, is writing her upcoming report to the General Assembly on the topic of agricultural workers. For this reason, she is calling for submissions from civil society organizations, academic organizations and business sector representatives. The Special Rapporteur will present the thematic report to the United Nations General Assembly in October 2018. 

Any responses you provide to the questions below would be greatly appreciated. You need not answer all of them – you can focus on the ones that are relevant to you. 

The Special Rapporteur respectfully requests that any available information be provided, by email to using the email title “Submission to report on agricultural workers” copying registry

While early submissions are encouraged, please submit comments no later than 7 May 2018. The Special Rapporteur will be evaluating submissions as they arrive and will accept them immediately. 

Submissions will be posted on the OHCHR website at the time of the report’s publication, except for non-State submissions containing a clear request not to be made public.

States are also being formally consulted for the preparation of this report. A questionnaire [E | F | S] is being sent all States requesting for their main legal and institutional instruments providing for the protection of the right to food of agricultural workers.

Please feel free to share this message and the questions with anyone who might be interested in contributing.

ATTN: Special Rapporteur on the right to food
Special Procedures Branch
Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
Mailing address: UNOG-OHCHR, CH-1211 Geneva 10
Tel: +41 22 917 9267
Fax: +41 22 917 9006


According to the International Labour Organisation (ILO) an estimated 1.1 billion people worldwide are engaged in agriculture. This figure includes around 300-500 million waged workers. Unpaid family members including women, children and young adults further carry out agricultural work as unrecognized farm labour often in plantation and in support of small-scale family farming. Large numbers of casual, seasonal and temporary workers, often migrants, are engaged in agricultural work world-wide. Agricultural workers carry out a vital role in the global food production yet they tend to be unable to access adequate nutritious food for themselves and their families.

The report will describe the main international and national legal and institutional instruments relevant to the protection of the human rights of agricultural and food system workers.  It will outline the responsibility of States in terms of guaranteeing these rights; including the right to a living wage and to decent and safe working conditions. The State is further responsible for monitoring the compliance with labour, environmental and human rights-legislation both at the in international and national level. 

The report will assess the gap between the existing regulatory system and its implementation. It will further discuss to what extent States abide by key human rights principles of non-discrimination, participation and effective remedy. 

The report will also aim to assess the role of the private sector including employers and agribusiness and its responsibility to protect the right to food of agricultural workers; it will  assess how effective the consumers’ role in protecting agricultural workers is and what can be done to enhance it?

The aim is to provide a series of recommendations based on human rights principles to States and to other stakeholders on how to improve the human rights situation of agricultural and food chain workers in the modernised, mechanised, industrialized, globalized current food system.


  1. Please list any laws or mention the lack of specific laws (both domestic and international) with regards to the protection and promotion of the right to food of agricultural workers in relevant situations.  This can include a provision of existing national laws and regulations that;
  2. a)  establish the right of agricultural workers to safe and healthy working conditions; 
    b)  guarantee the rights of agricultural workers to a living wage;
    c)  protect agricultural workers from hazardous substances;
    e)  guarantee their freedom of association.

  3. Please provide us with information on the lack of /or existence of policies put in place for the protection and the respect of the rights of agricultural workers on behalf of States and/or private companies.

  4. Please indicate authorities tasked with monitoring the compliance of the working conditions with labour legislation and describe their mandates. 

  5. What mechanisms exist on behalf of States and of private companies with regards to access to information on the rights of agricultural workers and on access to effective remedy in case of human rights violations? 

  6. Please provide the Special Rapporteur with examples of the lack of protection of the rights of particularly vulnerable groups of agricultural workers, including women, children, migrants and seasonal workers, plantation workers and fish workers? What about food chain workers?  Please provide the Special Rapporteur with concrete examples and share relevant reports.

  7. Please provide any additional information you believe would be useful to understand the challenges confronting agricultural workers. Please share with us a list of relevant documentation and reports that might be useful. 

  8. Please provide a list of any good practices initiated on behalf of States and/or private companies to protect and promote the rights of agricultural and planation workers, and in particular members of the above mentioned particularly vulnerable groups?

For more information on the mandate, please see