On May 11, NYU School of Law’s Center for Human Rights and Global Justice (CHRGJ) released a 54-page report examining human rights concerns surrounding farmer suicides in India. With a particular emphasis on Indian cotton farmers, the CHRGJ report, “Every Thirty Minutes: Farmer Suicides, Human Rights, and Agrarian Crisis in India,” contributes to the ongoing debate about how India’s agricultural policies are affecting farmers through careful analysis of the human rights dimensions of the farmer suicide crisis. The report also examines the impacts that foreign multinational seed companies—and the genetically modified cotton that they have introduced in India—have on farmers.

Since 1995, more than a quarter of a million Indian farmers have committed suicide, and the numbers only continue to rise; the current rate is estimated at one farmer suicide every thirty minutes. The report, based on extensive research by CHRGJ Faculty Director Smita Narula and International Human Rights Clinic students Lauren DeMartini '11, Colin Gillespie ’11, Jimmy Pan ’12, and Sylwia Wewiora ’11, finds that these farmers’ human rights—including the right to life, the right to an adequate standard of living, to right to water, the right to food, and the right to an effective remedy—are all being undermined. The report ultimately provides recommendations to the Indian government, calling on it to uphold its obligations to respect, protect, and fulfill the human rights of Indian farmers. Additionally, the report calls on foreign multinational agribusinesses to respect the human rights of these farmers.

Posted May 13, 2011