FAO reform: power struggle may lead to FAO marginalisation

Press Release

In the intergovernmental discussions on the FAO reform that take place in the run up to the next FAO Conference in November this year, some
governments are pushing to reduce the mandate of FAO and to skip any reference to fundamental human rights. Beside this, according to  inside
sources, major donors are pushing FAO to stop managing projects in developing countries. They propose to divert those funds towards a
separate so called “trust fund” where donors directly decide which country will receive funds and for what purpose.

Major donor countries such as Canada, Australia, Japan, Great Britain, USA and Germany are particularly pushing in this direction. A probably result
would be that FAO development cooperation  falls directly under their control and that the autonomy of receiving countries further decreases.
Donor money will be used increasingly to reinforce the agenda of the donor countries instead of responding to the needs expressed by the countries
receiving the funds.

The strategy to bring the international response to the food crisis under the so called “UN High Level Task Force on the Global Food Crisis” is part
of the same strategy: funds and initiatives are taken away from the FAO. Meanwhile, the World Bank, industrialized country governments and private
foundations are taking over.

La Via Campesina is convinced that a reform of FAO is necessary. However, FAO should not be dismantled but reinforced. It should focus its efforts
more on its original mandate: “fighting hunger and poverty through an improvement of the socio-economic conditions for people living in the
rural areas“. It should focus on the strengthening of sustainable peasant agriculture and not on corporate interests. One of the important tasks is
to implement the results of the International Conference on Agricultural and Regional Development ( ICARRD).

La Via Campesina calls upon its member organisations to demand their own government to raise these concerns in the institutional FAO process that
will end with the next FAO conference, in November 2008.  On the 12-17th of October 2008 the FAO governmental Committee on Food Security (CFS) will
meet in Rome. This will be an opportunity to raise the issue with the governments present. Destructive  deregulation and privatisation policies, such as those proposed in the current reform, have in fact lead the world into the current food crisis. This must be stopped!

According to La Via Campesina the original mandate of the FAO should be reinforced instead of reduced and watered down. The role of FAO should be
strengthened and it should receive clear instructions from the member governments to undertake any initiative needed to decrease hunger, to
stabilize and increase food production for domestic consumption and to give people in the rural areas access and control over productive
resources. Donor countries should stop their selfish policies which transform cooperation for development into a tool to impose their own interests.
They should start to build real cooperation through truly democratic international institutions. The introduction of the World Bank principle
"one dollar one vote“ into UN institutions such as the FAO should be strongly rejected.

Contact Via Campesina: Paul Nicholson (cell phone: 34 636451566)
More information on www.viacampesina.org and www.foodsovereignty.org or
call Antonio Onorati – International Focus point of IPC based in Rome
cell phone +39-340 8219456)