Home
About Us
What We Do
Activities
Members
Steering Council
Join Us!
Resource Materials
Links
Photo Gallery
Take Action
Media Release
Archives
Articles in Other
Languages
Artículos en Espanõl
Artikel di bahasa Indonesia

Statement of the People’s Coalition on Food Sovereignty on World Food Day
October 16, 2011

The Need for Accountability Mechanisms against Landgrabbing and all other threats to Food Sovereignty

Three years have passed since the 2008 global food crisis.

The Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) chosen theme this year - ‘Food Price Volatility: From Crisis to Stability’ appears ironic given the fact that the price of oil has continued to surge; the credit crunch and unemployment has ran unabated globally; climate crisis has appallingly devastated livelihoods and crops especially in South Asia and Eastern Europe; and the food price index has experienced steeper increases at the start of the year compared to the 2008.

Beginning end last year, food prices have risen to levels comparable to the food price spike of 2007-2008, pushing more people into hunger. High food prices, after all, are symptomatic of the larger maladies faced by farmers, indigenous peoples and small food producers.

Much remains to be seen how much of the reforms from the Committee on Food Security have really made an impact on those it supposedly seeks to serve – the landless and dispossessed. With worsening hunger and malnutrition stalking over a billion people worldwide in the face of massive landgrabbing, spiraling food prices and the like, accountability mechanisms in the international policy architecture are imperative.

Battling for Accountability Mechanisms

The chief of one of the biggest monopoly agro-corporations, Greg Page, CEO of Cargill recently shared his thoughts on companies’ acquisition of farmlands: "No company's big enough to be a police force onto itself." It is a view fraught with serious implications.

Indeed, even if all the international guidelines were ratified in commemoration of the World Food Day, who would ensure their implementation? Who would be the police force against landgrabbing; monopoly and control over market and trade; dumping of toxic farm inputs and genetically modified organisms (GMOs); graft and corruption; neo-liberal policy impositions; behest loans and aid conditionalities; human rights violations; and other root causes of the current crisis on hunger and poverty?

Olivier De Schutter, the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food, echoed such a concern: “If countries do not face international monitoring and are not encouraged to report to their national civil societies about the progress achieved, much of the added value of the Voluntary Guidelines on the responsible governance of tenure of land, fisheries and forests will be lost.”

In its meeting last month, the Civil Society Mechanism Working Group on the Global Strategic Framework (GSF) likewise stressed the need for defining accountability and monitoring as a priority issue in the GSF, and that a rights-based approach is seen as a central part of the national and international accountability and monitoring mechanism, recognizing the Voluntary Guidelines on the Right to Food.

The question is, who will make the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund accountable? Who will sanction Cargill, Dupont, Syngenta and Monsanto? Who will compel a landlord president like Benigno Aquino III of the Philippines to distribute lands to farmers in the family-owned Hacienda Luisita? Who will enforce these guidelines and bring the culprits to justice and pay reparations?

Challenge for CFS

Prior to the CFS Reforms, the defectiveness of the global food and agriculture institutional architecture, along with its policies on food and agriculture, was emphatically underscored when the World Food Crisis erupted in 2008. The severity of the situation reached such an extent that the World Committee on Food Security (CFS), a body already perceived as irrelevant to the food security agenda then, was threatened by calls of disbandment even from some its own member states.

This created a sense of urgency which led to the clamour for the CFS Reform process, with particular stress on recognizing the important role of civil society organizations (CSOs) in the CFS policy-making process. To regain its credibility and significance, CFS was compelled to draft reports and new policy guidelines on specific concerns related to food and agriculture.

Harsher environment

While the drafted international policies and guidelines are still pending CFS ratification, peasants, small- scale farmers and other marginalized groups face life and death situations in defense of their rights especially in the rural areas.

In Panama, a peasant village in the South-East of Sri Lanka, situated at a distance of about 350 kms. from Colombo on the Eastern coast, struggling against the 'Arugam Bay Special Tourism Promotion Zone', local authorities and the police, are busy guarding the interests of the rich and the powerful who seek to grab these land plots through covert operations. Houses were burned down, farmers and their families were evicted, and 2,000 acres of community farm land were completely blocked from entry in the villages of Shasthrawela, Ulpassa and Ragamwela in West Panama and are now occupied by the military.

In Bhatta Parsual, Greater Noida (UP), India’s bread basket, about 6,000 acres of land are being acquired by infrastructure company Jaiprakash Associates to build luxury townships and sports facilities - including a Formula 1 racetrack - in the guise of building the Yamuna Expressway. A total of the land area comprising of 1,225 villages is to be acquired for the 165km Expressway. The farmers have been protesting this unjust land acquisition. Last May 7, 2011, four (4) people died while scores were injured during a clash between protesters and the police.

In Uganda, over 20,000 people were involuntarily evicted from the Namwasa and Luwunga forest reserves in Mubende and Kiboga districts to make way for a commercial tree plantation licensed to the UK-based New Forests Company (NFC), according to the Uganda Land Alliance. People claim their homes and livelihoods were destroyed and some evictions were executed harshly. Not one was given token compensation. They are now destitute and living in the outskirts of the plantations.

In Uganda, over 20,000 people were involuntarily evicted from the Namwasa and Luwunga forest reserves in Mubende and Kiboga districts to make way for a commercial tree plantation licensed to the UK-based New Forests Company (NFC), according to the Uganda Land Alliance. People claim their homes and livelihoods were destroyed and some evictions were executed harshly. Not one was given token compensation. They are now destitute and living in the outskirts of the plantations.

The cases of outright violations of human rights in landgrabbing incidences alone are countless. This is the kind of environment in which CFS international policies and guidelines are to be applied. It is also ground realities like these that pose the need for accountability mechanisms on the part of governments and corporations.

Intensify the struggle against landgrabbing, corporate globalization and neo-liberalism

We congratulate the men and women who held the fort in the international arena of policy development in agriculture and food, bringing with them the interest of the small-scale farmers. We also especially congratulate those who tirelessly advocate the demands of marginalized groups in developing countries despite being the minority among their peers

We extend our highest salute and solidarity to peasants who continuously defend their rights against landgrabbing and other forms of exploitation. We give honour to those who have given their lives, to the desaparecidos and those who are still being detained in defense of their land, life and ancestral domain.

The international policies and guidelines even if ratified in the 37th session of the CFS, given its importance in the international arena, will just be instruments that can be utilized to improve an enabling environment at the national level. But just like the plow and sickle that we use in our farms, fundamental changes will still be in our hands which will cultivate the land and harvest the fruits of our labour.

We call on all the small-scale farmers and other marginalized groups to stand their ground and strengthen their ranks in defense of life and land.

Stop Landgrabbing!

No to corporate globalization and monopoly capitalism!

Top
PCFS Secretariat
3rd Floor, IBON Center
114 Timog Avenue, Quezon City
1103 Philippnes
PO Box 1172 Quezon City Central Post Office
Philippines
Phone : +63 (02) 927-7060 to 62
Fax : +63 (02) 9276981
Email: secretariat@foodsov.org
Copyright 2005-2007 People's Coalition on Food Sovereignty (PCFS)