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10 October 2011 | | |

Land rights over corporate profit

Talks on Guidelines on Land tenure and other natural resources begin Monday in Rome

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The only effective way to make official speeches that claim to seek the protection of land, water and other natural resources come true, is by securing the human rights of rural communities, indigenous peoples, small-scale farmers, especially women instead of focusing on corporate-business profits.

This is the main principle guiding the consultations, mobilizations and negotiations between social movements, the governments and the private sector, who will seek to reach a final agreement on the Committee on World Food Security that works in the framework of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

The organizations have proposed that the only effective solution to the fast land grabbing process – which also implies privatization of water and fisheries- is to secure the peoples’ access and control of these natural goods , instead of corporations and governments who have invested in this sector.

While some governments welcome the lobby of economic groups, emphasizing the idea of “food security” as enough food to feed the global population, the organizations said the focus should instead be on food sovereignty, which implies an agrarian reform and regarding land and water as common goods that cannot be controlled by corporations.

There has been a long debate with the participation of peasant, rural women, nomad pastoralists, fisherfolk, human rights and environmental organizations from all over the world and government representatives.

Nearly 50 civil society representatives are meeting at the FAO’s headquarters in Rome, Italy, in preparation for this final round of talks around the Guidelines of the Committee on World Food Security (FSC) that should be approved next Friday 14.

In parallel to the talks there will be a demonstration in Rome, organized by La Via Campesina Europe and other local organizations on Tuesday 11 October. They will submit the Dakar Appeal Against Land Grab to governments and FSC members.

Real World Radio is reporting from Rome as part of the social movements’ communications team to cover the talks and its outcomes.

Members of the delegation said that “despite the complexity of the issue, it is possible that the talks will reach a satisfactory outcome in October” since “delaying the adoption of the Guidelines would undermine the credibility of the governments and multilateral institutions in their efforts to solve the global food crisis”.

Despite evidence to the contrary, the most powerful governments and the private sector insist in presenting economic growth, markets and corporate investments as “magic solutions” to reach food security.
African, Latin American and Asian representatives have insisted in the negative effects on communities of corporate-state investments in lands and natural resources.

Most governments have rejected any measure that goes beyond market mechanisms, such as restitution, redistribution and compulsory guidelines to guarantee security in land tenure and investment safeguards to benefit indigenous peoples, peasants, fisherfolk and pastoralists.

However, there is a group of countries who have shared the organizations’ demands. They hope more countries will join this approach that privileges human rights over business profits.

Faliry Boly, Secretary-General of Sexagon, a peasant organization from Mali, said: “The problem is evident. Agribusiness projects such as those including thousands of hectares in Mali cause severe damage and are illegitimate. We demand the parliaments and national governments to immediately stop massive land grabbing and to return the land”.

At times when global capitalism is in crisis, especially in the European Union, the future of the peoples seems to be reduced either to the fall or rise of speculative financial markets, while people take to the streets of the main European cities to protest against this system that protects corporations.

Will the same logic apply to food production?

(CC) 2011 Real World Radio


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