Personal profile

Vision Statement

I decided to become a scholar because I wanted to develop the analytical skills to better understand the challenges facing social movements and human rights activists working towards more equitable and sustainable food systems. As a PhD researcher, I analyzed the contribution of peasant movements to the emergence of an alternative conception of human rights. I looked at the creation and institutionalization of new human rights by the transnational agrarian movement La Via Campesina, with a focus on the right of peoples to food sovereignty, and the rights of peasants (to land, seeds, water, biodiversity, remunerative prices and participation in decision-making).

My approach is multidisciplinary, empirical and inductive. In my research, I mobilize concepts from the socio-anthropology of rights, the sociology of social movements, rural sociology, international human rights law and development studies. My areas of thematic expertise are: human rights, food sovereignty, the right to food, land rights, peasant and social movements, agricultural trade and global governance, agricultural policy and food security.


I received my PhD in Political and Social Sciences from the University of Louvain (UCL) in 2013. While doing research on legal mobilizations within the transnational agrarian movement La Via Campesina, I worked as a Special Advisor to the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food, Olivier De Schutter, from 2008 to 2014. I also worked closely with Geoffrey Pleyers and was very involved in his research group on social movements in the global age (SMAG). 

After completing my PhD, I worked as a postdoctoral researcher at the Collège d’Etudes Mondiales in Paris (2014-2015) and at the French Institute of Pondicherry in India (2015-2016). In Paris, I explored the role of agriculture in the ecological transition and learned a lot from working with Prof. Dominique Méda. I also studied the involvement of peasant and indigenous movements in global climate discussions with Deborah Delgago Pugley. In Pondicherry, I conducted research on the emerging human right to land, and initiated a new research project on domestic workers with Audrey Richard Ferroudji. 

Prior to becoming an academic, I worked for a number of human rights organizations and development NGOs, including FIAN in Belgium, the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) in France, and the Maquila Solidarity Network, Rights & Democracy, and Oxfam in Canada. 
I hold a MA in business administration from the Louvain School of Management (UCL) and a MA in environmental management from the Free University of Brussels (ULB).

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  • 13 Similar Profiles
human rights Social Sciences
food Earth & Environmental Sciences
sovereignty Earth & Environmental Sciences
United Nations Earth & Environmental Sciences
land Social Sciences
peasant Social Sciences
UNO Social Sciences
social movement Earth & Environmental Sciences

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Research Output 2012 2017

Can the revolution be institutionalized?

Trauger, A., Claeys, P. & Desmarais, A. A. 2017 Public Policies for Food Sovereignty: Social Movements and the State. Desmarais, A. A., Claeys, P. & Trauger, A. (eds.). Routledge, p. (in press)

Research output: ResearchChapter

Food Sovereignty and the Recognition of New Rights for Peasants at the UN: A Critical Overview of La Via Campesina’s Rights Claims over the Last 20 Years

Claeys, P. 2017 The Politics of Food Sovereignty: Concept, Practice and Social Movements. Shattuck, A., Schiavoni, C. & VanGelder, Z. (eds.). Routledge, (Rethinking Globalizations)

Research output: Research - peer-reviewChapter

3 Citations
social movement
climate change
United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change

Public Policies for Food Sovereignty: Social Movements and the State

Trauger, A., Claeys, P. & Desmarais, A. A. 11 Sep 2017 Oxon: Routledge. 240 p. (Routledge Studies in Food, Society and the Environment)

Research output: Research - peer-reviewBook

public policy
nutrition policy
municipal administration
constitutional amendment

The Committee on World Food Security: Politics under threat

Duncan, J., Nadia, L. & Claeys, P. 15 Dec 2017 (Accepted/In press) Un monde sans faim? Gouverner la sécurité alimentaire au 21e siècle. Paris: Presses de Sciences-Po, Paris, Vol. (in press), p. (in press)

Research output: ResearchChapter

human rights


Doctoral thesis HERA Award

Priscilla Claeys (Recipient), 25 Apr 2017

Prize: Prize (including medals and awards)

Press / Media

Rural women's rights and gender issues

Priscilla Claeys


1 media contribution

Press / Media: Expert Comment