La Via Campesina opposes land grabbing at the UN Committee on Food Security

During the week of July 11-15, 2011, members of La Via Campesina will participate in the United Nations Committee on World Food Security negotiations on the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests that are taking place at the FAO headquarters in Rome. La Via Campesina is part of the broader Civil Society Mechanism which has recently been included as participants in the Committee on World Food Security along with FAO member states, international institutions as well as the private sector. These are the final negotiations of the guidelines which are expected to be adopted by the CFS in October. The guidelines cover issues of land tenure, reform and redistribution, as well as markets and investment which all have serious impacts for peasants, small farmers, rural and indigenous peoples worldwide.

La Via Campesina welcomes this opportunity to participate in the process of negotiating the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests and we reaffirm our commitment to strengthen this process so that the Guidelines provide a clear framework for the protection of peasants, small holder family farmers and communities that live and work on the land, as well as the protection of land rights and the protection of all people against land grabbing.

In this respect we strongly urge all stakeholders to consider the following points:

1) The Guidelines must strongly emphasize the urgent need to implement genuine agrarian reform through land redistribution programs particularly in areas where there is a high degree of land ownership concentration coupled with food insecurity. The Guidelines must provide states with adequate guidance to abolish land grabbing worldwide. The Guidelines should support full implementation of the commitments made at the FAO International Conference on Agrarian Reform and Rural Development (ICARRD). Food Sovereignty requires empowering local food producers, men women and youth, with full access to and control over food producing resources. The Guidelines should promote policy reform on all levels, local, regional, national and international, to end the facilitation of large-scale acquisition of land and fully promote the long term economic autonomy and self-determination of peasants around the world. We reaffirm that land acquisition by private corporations does not solve the imminent problems of poverty, hunger, and need for land reform but it further jeopardizes the already fragile livelihoods of rural communities.

2) The Guidelines must recognize and fully support the critical importance of peasant and family based agro-ecology as a main solution to eradicate hunger. Corporations cannot feed both people and greedy shareholders at the same time. Peasants who have a long term commitment and stability on the land will lead to high levels of food sovereignty, superior environmental outcomes, more resilient local communities, and the inter-generational transfer crucial to long term well being of humanity. The ability of peasants to produce is under attack by the systematic political dismantling of long standing protection mechanisms and the move by states to adopt the theory of “economic growth at all costs”. The Guidelines must clearly denounce this single-minded approach to development.

3) The Guidelines contain explicit reference to obligatory international human rights instruments and therefore should follow internationally agreed language when human rights concepts are introduced so as to avoid being interpreted as lowering these existing standards. Recognizing and reaffirming that peasants are entitled without discrimination to all human rights recognized in international law, we remind all governments that ratified treaties and conventions must be incorporated into domestic law.

4) The Guidelines must emphasize that hunger must be eradicated as it is a direct result of ill-formed policy, a lack of commitment on the part of the wealthiest nations and the unfettered promotion of corporatization and economic deregulation.

5) Climate change and false solutions that aggravate the food crisis must be addressed. The Guidelines should explicitly denounce the false solutions to the climate crisis that legitimize land grabbing. The corporate and large-scale use of food producing land for the cultivation of agro-fuels is first and foremost an unethical act, but furthermore, agro-fuels are a false solution to mitigate climate change and are deepening the global dependence on fossil fuels further contributing to the climate crisis.