Via Campesina, Bali Declaration: World Bank and IMF represent the interests of agribusiness, they should GO!





We, the peasant women and men of La Via Campesina – a global movement comprising 182 peasant organisations from 81 countries – who have assembled in Bali this week and representing peasant and indigenous peoples of Asia, Africa, Europe and Americas, are unanimously and emphatically denouncing the ongoing Annual Meeting of World Bank and IMF.

Exactly a decade ago, the global food crisis that gripped our people was precipitated by an industrial agricultural model that turned food into a commodity. It was exacerbated by hedge fund speculation on prices of food.

Ten years hence, World Bank, IMF and a host of other International Financial Institutions (IFIs), who were fully culpable in promoting this agro-industrial model, continue to operate with impunity. All they care for is safeguarding the interests of their financiers. The result? 815 million people, a majority of them peasants, indigenous people and other people working in rural areas suffer disproportionately from hunger and malnutrition even today. This is happening even as 82% of the world’s wealth remain in the control of a mere 1% of the population. Peasant households everywhere are sunk in deep debts, while the average Wall Street salary hovers around $422,500! These statistics are a clear indictment of the aggressive neo-liberal push for privatisation and de-regulation by World Bank and IMF in all regions. It exposes the illegitimacy of these institutions in representing the interests of a majority of the people in the world.


Assembled in Bali, representing countries such as Timor Leste, Thailand, Kenya, Cambodia, Malaysia, France, Indonesia, South Korea, India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Argentina and Nicaragua – peasant representatives of La Via Campesina also shared several instances of large-scale capture of agricultural land, forests, rivers and oceans taking place in these countries so as to make way for massive infrastructural projects funded by World Bank and IMF. South East Asia, East Asia and Asia Pacific have been turned into ‘PPP labs’ [Public-Private-Partnerships] for World Bank and IMF, with 53% of the global share of private investment now targeting this region. It has become the biggest excuse to grab the land, water and territories from peasants. In period of 2001 to 2010, due to large-scale investments driven by the World Bank in the agricultural sector, mainly in African and Asian countries, around 203 million hectares of land were forcefully grabbed.

Not stopping at this oppression through infrastructure development, the World Bank expanded its activities into the realm of climate change mitigation as well. One such example is the Forest Investment Program (FIP) under REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation). At first glance the program appears to strike the right boxes but in reality has a negative impact on the community, especially for peasant and indigenous people. The program legalizes forceful grabbing of peasant’s land under the guise of land conservation and enter into legal partnerships with Corporations thus handing out to them the task of forest conservation.

Peasants who organise and resist these forceful capture face violent repressions, sometimes murdered, very often criminalised and prosecuted. These repressions are carried out with absolute impunity and the creators of the crisis are allowed to operate and implement their neo-liberal project with little or no accountability.


Less than 20 global corporations today control the global food chain that governs what food we buy and how we buy it.1 The free-trade regime that World Bank, IMF, other IFIs and WTO imposes around the world has only resulted in handing over the control of a 10,000 year old food system into the hands of a few Corporations – who have consolidated their businesses across the food chain through mergers and mega-mergers.

Over the last few decades the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and more recently the WTO have forced countries to decrease public investment in food production and to reduce State support for peasants and small farmers.

Peasants autonomy and traditional knowledge over seeds and the right to save, use, reuse, exchange and sell their seeds are under attack from seed laws and patent regimes that are part of the conditionality insisted by World Bank and IMF when credit lines are extended. World over, peasants are increasingly being criminalised for following their traditional peasant seed systems.

Peasant women, as custodians of seeds and also as people who work the land are among the worst affected as toxic chemical inputs have devastating impact on their health. The large scale migration from rural side to cities and across borders, particularly of youth and men have also resulted in peasant women being forced to take the burden caring for the farm fully as well as their families – including elders and children – who are left behind. In many parts of Asia, women from peasant households are also forced to migrate to cities and across borders, often working in highly precarious and unsafe conditions.


IMF and its safeguard policy rests on liberalization, privatization and deregulation which results in the degradation of State sovereignty, such that the State cannot play its role in implementing economic justice and welfare for its people. Indonesia, where the annual meeting of these two institutions are taking place this week, is a classic example. Despite the country clearing its loans, the pressure to continue with trade liberalisation persists and it is clear that this pressure is a result of the harmonisation of the neo-liberal policies of IMF and WTO. To elaborate on this, WTO has been consistently ruling against Indonesia in dispute settlement cases since the government has issued so many restrictive trade measures to protect the agriculture sector. This harmonisation to enforce the neolibreal agenda is further evident in the case of Timor Leste, where for it to be part of ASEAN, it has to comply with WTO trade rules.

By its own account, World Bank admits that presently four out of five Low Income Countries (LICs) are caught in a debt crisis, and the world’s average debt-to-GDP ratio remains at 40%. In countries like Kenya, it is as high as 70%! It is reported that ten years after the global financial crisis, the world is in deeper debt than it was in 2009 – $247 trillion! These debts are soon turned into an inescapable trap. Argentina, Kenya, Tunisia and Sri Lanka are among the most recent examples of these ‘debt traps’ where credit lines are offered to the governments, after imposing strict restrictions on fiscal and monetary policies –i.e. freezing public investments to enable increased private investments in infrastructural projects and insisting on privatisation of public services such as health, education and water. In Kenya recently, IMF pushed for the enactment of Finance ACT 2018 that has increased tax on just about everything from fuels to internet money transfer. The intention is to benefit Kenyan creditors to continue earning from Kenya’s servicing of the debts at the expense of the well being of Kenyan people. It results in an increased cost of living for the ordinary citizens, particularly peasants and workers, even as unemployment and decent work deficits stay at persistently high levels in many parts of the world. Moreover, we are also alarmed by the high incidence of suicide of peasants in several countries which in many cases were directly related to farm debt, increasing cost of living and loss of livelihoods.


It is in the light of this oppression, unleashed upon the people – particularly peasants, indigenous peoples, fishers and migrant workers – that we, La Via Campesina, reject the World Bank, IMF and other International Financial Institutions (IFIs). We denounce its policies of neo-liberalism and hyper-globalisation. We condemn the overt and covert attempts by the financiers of these institutions to dismantle the democratic processes in our countries, to engineer coups to bring down legitimate governments and in the end putting people’s food sovereignty in total jeopardy. We demand accountability and responsibility of World Bank and the IMF for their past and continued violation of our rights especially concerning our food, land, water, forests, seeds and other natural resources.

We will resist these attempts in our fields and our streets until we realise a world beyond the banks, that works on principles of solidarity and cooperation, respecting the right of peoples to healthy and culturally appropriate food produced through sustainable methods and upholding their right to define their own food and agriculture systems.

Forward, towards Food Sovereignty in a World Beyond the Banks!

Get Out World Bank and IMF!

Keep Agriculture out of Free Trade Agreements!

Globalise the Struggle, Globalise Hope!

1The 3 largest corporations control more than 50 % of the world’s seed market. The top 4 Corporations control 99% of livestock breeding. 10 corporations enjoy 55% of the fertilizer market. 4 traders control around 75 % of the world grain and soya market. A mere 11 Corporations control 30% of food processing.

Last updated: 12 October