• 134 Citations
  • 5 h-Index
If you made any changes in Pure these will be visible here soon.

Personal profile

Vision Statement

After several years working for human rights organizations and development NGOs, I decided to become a scholar 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). At the time, I was working as Senior Advisory to the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food, Olivier De Schutter (2008-2014).

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).

Since 2012, I have been following and actively supporting the process of negotiation of a new UN Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and other people working in rural areas, at the Human Rights Council. This process led to the recognition, with the adoption of the Declaration in 2018 by the UN Genera Assembly, of new human rights to land, seeds, biodiversity and food sovereignty, vested in individuals but also in groups and communities. I am fascinated by the engagement of agrarian movement in global norm-setting processes, and have explored, in different ways, their contributions but also the challenges that they face as makers of law.

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 am now the President of FIAN Belgium and on the board of the FIAN International.

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).

External positions

Member of the International Board, FIAN International

Nov 2017 → …


  • H Social Sciences (General)
  • GN Anthropology
  • JX International law

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics where Priscilla Claeys is active. These topic labels come from the works of this person. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • 30 Similar Profiles
food Social Sciences
sovereignty Social Sciences
human rights Social Sciences
peasant Social Sciences
UNO Social Sciences
Social Movements Social Sciences
United Nations Earth & Environmental Sciences
collective behavior Social Sciences

Network Recent external collaboration on country level. Dive into details by clicking on the dots.

Research Output 2012 2020

The Right to Land and Territory: New Human Right and Collective Action Frame

Claeys, P., Jan 2020, Property Rights from Below: Commodification of Land and the Counter-Movement. de Schutter, O. & Rajagopal, B. (eds.). Routledge, Vol. (In-press). p. (In-press) 25 p.

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

collective behavior
human rights
peasants' movement
private property

Commons and Commoning for a Just and Agroecological Transition: How to Decolonize and Decommodify our food systems

Ferrando, T., Claeys, P., Diesner, D., Vivero Pol, J. L. & Woods, D., 29 Sep 2019, (Submitted) TBC (Tornaghi and Pimbert, editors). Routledge

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

4 Citations (Scopus)
18 Downloads (Pure)
Open Access
social actor

Food Sovereignty, Food Security and the Right to Food

Claeys, P., Desmarais, A. A. & Singh, J., 2019, (Submitted) Edward Elgar Handbook on Critical Agrarian Studies (CAS). Edward Elgar Publishing

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

political movement
rural development
3 Downloads (Pure)

Food sovereignty and convergence spaces

Claeys, P. & Duncan, J., Nov 2019, In : Political Geography. 75, 13 p., 102045.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Open Access
civil society
food security

Activities 2018 2018

  • 1 Participation in workshop, seminar, course

The Oxford Handbook of Law and AnthropologyEditors: Marie-Claire Foblets, Mark Goodale, Maria Sapignoli, Olaf Zenker

Priscilla Claeys (Speaker), Karine Peschard (Speaker)
30 Nov 20182 Dec 2018

Activity: Participating in or organising an eventParticipation in workshop, seminar, course


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

Ensuring the right to food for rural working people

Priscilla Claeys


1 media contribution

Press/Media: Public Engagement Activities