The capture of the UN Summit on Food Systems by agribusiness lobbies denounced at the Human Rights Council

Geneva, March 2, 2021: La Via Campesina and CETIM express their concern about the corporate capture of agribusiness lobbies on the preparations for the UN Summit on Food Systems.

On March 2, 2021, Perla Alvarez Britez, representative of La Via Campesina, addressed the plenary assembly of the 46th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC), on the occasion of the presentation of the report of the new UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Mr. Michael Fakhri.

In his report, the Special Rapporteur highlighted the issues and priorities he intends to address during his mandate, putting a special focus on the issue of global governance of food systems, referring in particular, and with concern, to the UN Food Systems Summit that will be held in September 2021 in New York. Indeed, this summit, which is subject to many controversies in international debates, is at the heart of the UN agenda for 2021, but also of the agenda of rural movements and organizations.

La Via Campesina representative intervened at the United Nations Human Rights Council through the intermediary of CETIM, and stressed the importance of the role of the States in the face of the food crisis that is emerging in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. She reminded the plenary assembly of the 46th session of Human Rights Council that “it is key that States protect the rural areas and foster more equitable and transparent agrarian system, also by promoting international multilateral cooperation to solve this crisis“. This last element is particularly important in the current international situation, in which the dominant political and economic powers are aiming to dismantle multilateral spaces in favor of “multistakeholderism”. In fact, the latter aims to foster the influence of the private sector in the decision-making spaces that should be of public matter and that should be focused in the search for the general interest of the people; a particularly serious fact in a period of global health crisis such as the current one. 

In the same vein, Perla addressed the issue of the Food Summit, denouncing how “the corporate lobbies defending agribusiness interests are influencing and capturing the preparations of the Summit”. The objective of the strategy is clear: to ensure that the debates focus “solely on market-based solutions approach to food systems“, omitting solutions proposed by peasant systems, such as agroecology. Faced with this situation, the La Via Campesina representative called upon UN member states “to protect this UN space from corporate capture and to ensure that the right holders, such as peasants, indigenous peoples, and other people working in rural areas, are put at the core of the Summit”.

Finally, in her intervention, Perla highlighted the importance of continuing to promote the implementation of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in the Rural Areas, as a “common roadmap” and bulwark in favor of equitable and just food and agricultural systems that defend peoples’ lives and not private interest.

As Special Rapporteur Michael Fakhri said at the end of the dialogue in the HRC session: “The UNDROP is one of the most important ways in which countries can fulfill right to food and transform their food systems at the same time. The UNDROP provides a systemic perspective and i think if countries legally implement it, if they put this UN Declaration into their national law it provides government the power to transform their food systems and fulfill many of their human rights obligations”.

Read more:

Video (in Spanish)

Read the full text of the intervention

Read the full report of the Special Rapporteur

Read LVC Report on the Food Summit

Read CETIM’s book “The UN Declaration on the rights of peasants. A tool of struggle for a common future” (Ebook version, free access)