Dublin: Pulling the wool over the eyes of civil society once again!

Jakarta, 14-05-2010

The United Nation High Level Taskforce on the Global Food Security crisis is organising a consultation meeting with civil society organisations in Dublin, on May 17&18, to update the following document, “Comprehensive Frame work for Action” (CFA) produced in July 2008.

This report gathers a set of medium and long term actions to enable governments, UN and Bretton Wood multilateral agencies to give, according to Ban Ki Moon “a coherent and coordinated reply to the global food crisis” In the short term, access to food for the most vulnerable population must be improved and in the long term new situations of food insecurity must be avoided.

In principle, this initiative seems to satisfy all expectations, but in practice several points must be criticised.

The CFA was written by a few individuals from the High Level Taskforce and was first drafted without any consultation with governments nor with those communities most affected by the sudden rise in food prices (e.g. small producers, fisher folks, urban poor, men and women). Two years later, the Dublin operation and the preceding written consultation are an attempt to make up for this initial hitch.

This consultation is really an exercise of style. Its aim is not to elaborate a reply according to the expectations of civil society but rather to get comments on a set of preset replies. For the author of the CFA, the solutions to the food insecurity are global market, increase in productivity and investments in agriculture by means of industrial inputs and technology, reduction of tariff barriers allowing for a greater circulation of goods, a quick conclusion to the Doha round, development of private investments to produce agro fuels in developing countries. The goal is to transform peasant agriculture into industrial agriculture as quickly as possible. Yet for many organisations from civil society)°, those so-called answers are the very causes of the critical food situations encountered by many countries. This is why several organisations refused to take part in the CFA consultation as they see it as a distortion from the start.

For La Via Campesina, beyond an exercise of style, the Dublin consultation is another attempt from those who want to weaken the reform process of the FAO Committee on Food Security (CFS).

Clearly, the authors of the Comprehensive Framework for Action, and behind them the G8 donor countries, the World Bank, and the WTO, would be quite happy to see their report become the strategic framework that the governments called for last October during the plenary of the Committee for Food Security. The states have clearly expressed their wish that the strategic framework should take into account expertise from civil society organisations, so the rationale behind the Dublin consultation is quite clear.

This logic is all the more scandalous considering that these same players, when it suits them, will minimize any consultation with civil society, for example, making decisions on funding allocation. The case of the Global Agriculture and Food Security Programme (GAFSP) is quite self explanatory: only some NGOs have been selected to give, within very short notice, two or three names to sit as observers in the steering committee of the programme. Furthermore, there is no guarantee that this steering committee will have any influence on decisions, taken in reality by a very small group of people (the High Level Taskforce coordinator, a director from the World Bank and representatives from the donor countries or private foundations).

There is a fundamental difference between these take-over attempts (Dublin or GAFSP) and the consultation mechanism of civil society implemented by the FAO Food Security Committee a few months ago. La Via Campesina reiterates its involvement and support for the work carried out by the International Planning Committee for Food Sovereignty (of which it is part) and by other organisations which, along with the CFS, work to create a transparent, open and democratic consultation mechanism that respects the characteristics of civil society.

The Comprehensive Framework for Action drafted by the High Level Task force is purely an administrative document rather than a declaration of intent negotiated by governments. It is a contribution amongst others to the strategic framework that the FAO Committee for Food Security must construct. Other very relevant inputs to this process, in our view, are the International Assessment of Agricultural Science and Technology for Development, the “FAO Guidelines on the Right to Food” and the document “Policies and actions to eradicate hunger and malnutrition”. 250 organisations and 800 individuals support the document “Policies and actions to eradicate hunger and malnutrition” (available on the site  www.eradicatehunger.org).