Declaration of the International Conference on Food Sovereignty: Colony and Frontiers

Palestine, Ramallah | 14-15 October 2019

We close the “Food Sovereignty: Colonies and Frontiers” international conference here in Ramallah along with our colleagues in the Gaza Strip. Our conference was organized by the Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC), the Social and Economic Policies Monitor (Marsad), and La Via Campesina (LVC)

We appreciate the attendance of a group of prominent speakers representing peasant movements for social justice from 14 countries. We also value the patience and cooperation it took to make this conference a success. We were able to host food sovereignty movements — from Latin America, Europe, Africa, the United States and Palestine — in one location. This dynamic group strongly supports human rights and dignity. We also value the interventions of our colleagues and friends, academics, and representatives of agrarian/peasant movements from Arab countries. As such, this conference was a fruitful experience full of lessons learned from the experiences presented and discussed over the course of two days. Some 800 people attended from different social categories and classes — particularly farmers, who interacted positively and participated in the discussions.

Our goal throughout this conference has been to provide an environment that is rich with Palestinian and international experiences. These mechanisms and methods contribute to the realization of food sovereignty. We also addressed the detrimental roles of colonialism and imperialism, part of which is seeking to abolish our food sovereignty as peoples. Under this umbrella, we gathered a number of active bodies on the social and agricultural fronts, where we discussed the nature of the national and international challenges that we are facing. We understand the urgent necessity of improving networking, coordination, and learning exchanges between Palestinian and international peasant movements. Such critical exchanges will help develop our social justice strategies now and into the future. This will also feed into building up the role of social justice movements and shared emancipatory struggles for freedom while protecting the rights of the poor through food sovereignty.

The attendees agreed upon a number of important recommendations that would lead to improving agriculture internationally, regionally and locally. Following are the most important of these recommendations:

1. International solidarity with the Palestinian struggle for sovereignty over their land and natural resources;

2. Pressure governments to adopt the UN Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas (UNDROP) by defending the rights of farmers and fishers.

3. Governments must ensure fair collection and distribution of financial resources, as well as ensure the provision of fair input for food production, guaranteeing continued peasant livelihoods. This is realized through the unity of social movements that call for socio-economic justice, including farmers’ movements from around the world. We do this in order to work together on ending the international imperial tyranny and capitalism that steals the resources of farmers around the world. We also work to end the monopoly of multinational corporations that control production inputs and lobby for policies that benefit the rich.

4. Learning exchanges are particularly important. The reciprocal sharing of knowledge should be a continual process, and communication networks between peasant movements should never be cut off.

5. International bodies must assure their responsibilities regarding the establishment of infrastructure in rural areas. This protects food producers and consumers in a world of diminishing resources, especially water. This is especially true in Palestine at a time when rainwater is wasted in rural areas due to lack of infrastructure;

6. Returning to original practices, such as environmental agriculture and Indigenous seeds is of great importance. We must focus on them in our quest for food sovereignty;

7. Raise awareness on control over natural resources, emphasizing mechanisms that will help us to realize food sovereignty. This is achieved through including this powerful concept in all plans and programs the various actors in development;

8. Replace food security narratives with the concept of food sovereignty, especially given its relevance to the Palestinian case. In this context, the issue at hand is political, and the Israeli occupation stands between Palestinians and their resources. Food security, on the other hand, is a social concept that fails to address the root cause of food security in Palestine by only focusing on the availability of provisions to feed people.

9. Decision makers — particularly the Palestinian government, if it is serious about disengaging from the Israeli economy — must take immediate and practical steps to review all relevant laws and policies, including the concepts of sovereignty over food and natural resources. They must do so in a way that demonstrates the seriousness of such endeavours and is in line with the Palestinian need for actual national policies that promote the resilience of Palestinian farmers and people on their land, and particularly in Area C.

10. The policy that we need is a national policy that is a reflection of the problems we seek to solve. It should not be copied from any other state or experience that would not apply to our Palestinian context. We seek a policy that is based on resilience and initiative, which should be presented as part of the Palestinian project — resisting and challenging the annexation project that is on the horizon.

11. Activate legal follow-up, lobbying and advocacy mechanisms — broadly to protect farmers, fishers and rural workers, especially women. These populations are subject to horrendous violations through a continued assault by demolition and confiscation of land and facilities;

12. Track the occupation at the international level in order to hold it accountable, expose it, and reveal its true identity. This will contribute to protecting Palestinian resources and achieving human rights – both of which are under threat from the occupation;

13. The “Food Sovereignty: Colonies and Frontiers” conference has established the grounds for a new phase of the struggle for Palestinian actors and activists. It relies on the importance of prioritizing food resources in the struggle against monopoly, greed and capital control over people’s livelihoods. This is realized through the provision of support to Palestinians in order to maintain their land. It is also important to support Palestinian efforts to confront big investors who monopolize resources at the expense of the dreams and projects of small-scale farmers.

14. The notable attendance of a number of organizations and movements struggling for food sovereignty and justice for farmers, fishers, and agricultural workers around the world, led by La Via Campesina, is proof of the just struggle of Palestinian farmers. This is a significant opportunity to launch the largest lobbying and advocacy campaign at the international level, conveying the struggles of Palestinian farmers to the world. An important component of this campaign is promoting Palestinian products, over ones sold by Israeli companies and settlements and multinational corporations; and

15. Decide on an international day for solidarity with Palestinian fishers. Long live the struggles of our farmers… long live the struggles of agricultural workers… we stand with you until socio-economic justice is realized for farmers, fishers and agricultural workers.

May we succeed in protecting the rights of farmers and rural workers — across the globe, in our Arab World, and in our beloved Palestine.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019