Natural Resource Grabbing

Rome, Italy, 17 October 2011 – As the 37th session of the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) begins at FAO, civil society organizations (CSO) welcome Saturday’s results of the second round of negotiations on the Voluntary Guidelines on Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests, and urge governments to conclude negotiations as soon as possible.

After an intense week of negotiations, 74% of the text of the Guidelines was adopted, including crucial issues for social movements and organizations, like the recognition and protection of customary systems of land tenure, forest and fisheries, and protection of the defenders of the rights of farmers, fishermen, indigenous peoples, pastoralists and nomads, as well as a commitment to not criminalize social struggles in defence of their natural resources.

“The adopted text reflects the fact that we were here, reminding government officials that they have an obligation to ensure our interests,” said Kalissa Regier, Canadian farmer, on behalf of La Via Campesina.

The CSOs also presented the Dakar Appeal Against Land Grabbing, endorsed by 870 organizations around the world, to the chair of CFS, Dr Noel D. De Luna. They asked that this appeal be considered in the negotiations and for a ban on land grabbing. However, this and other proposals of the CSOs were strongly rejected by several governments.

“I saw several governments attempt to get rid of the human rights approach to the governance of natural resources. It was a tough fight, “said Sofia Monsalve Suárez, a key negotiator and representative of FIAN International. “The use of natural resources for food production is a matter of right and cannot be commoditized.”

Because of the complexity of the text, the negotiations were not concluded. Several contentious issues, such as investment in agriculture, remain. The Committee on Food Security, the new governing body of agricultural and food policy, will determine when the next negotiations will take place and in the coming week will discuss other important issues as food price volatility and trade policies.

Some of the main events organized by CSOs around this week:

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