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puce Why AGTER signed the Dakar Appeal against the land grabs ?

Following the last meeting of the Committee on Food Security (CFS) in Rome, October 2010, La Via Campesina and ROPPA, FIAN International, Friends of the Earth International, CCFD - Terre Solidaire, Peuples Solidaires have decided to organize an assembly for convergence at the World Social Forum of Dakar (February 2011) with all groups interested in launching an appeal against land grabs (see this article).

Participants of this have adopted the call and insisted that he should serve as a vehicle to create a broad alliance and mobilization of support for people and organizations that resist to the land-grabbing.

This statement recalls the social, economic and environmental contributions of family farming and the impact of the land-grab on rural populations. It lists the demands to local and national governments : stop negotiating land, stop criminalizing the struggle movements, recognize and defend the rights of users. Then, the requirements to regional and international institutions : relaunch the land reform process, strengthen the voluntary guidelines, make the international law binding and the states accountable for violations of human rights, reject the policy of the Bank World. Finally, it calls the global community to be in solidarity with farmers struggle.

AGTER, based on the work of the past years on this topic, participated actively in the drafting of this declaration and has signed the petition (link to the petition here).

For AGTER, the Dakar Appeal is a key step to create a broad coalition of social movements which can be able to build a general will strong enough to make real the necessary political and legal changes. The proposals will of course be further refined and adapted to the different contexts. It will be useful in the field of global common rules to denounce the absence of any legal responsibility of transnational corporations and investors under international law on human rights. It should of course reach that States are accountable for their failures to make human rights respected and are obliged to repair the damage. But a global law on human rights guaranteed by obligatory judiciary is also required to submit transnational economic actors to the same basic obligations. So far, they have only to respond to the rules of international investment and trade, mostly dedicated to the protection of their interests.

It is also important to discern the principles themselves of conditions of their application. The condemnation of the World Bank approach is legitimate insofar as the latter did not consult civil society and farmers’ organizations to develop these principles (as opposed to the FAO process to define the Voluntary Guidelines). But the content of most of the principles, although very general, does not seem wrong in itself. How not to approve the need to seek first to protect users’ rights in place or to make sure that investments do not threat food security, for example ?

We wish to emphasize the discrepancy between the importance of these stakes and the weakness of the voluntary framework proposed by the World Bank to implement these principles. This framework only relies only to the goodwill of States and investors. However, to promote fundamental principles without any tangible ways to ensure their compliance means giving to the most powerful actors the opportunity to claim them while violating people’s rights. The fact that the economic and environmental impacts are often difficult to predict to the medium term makes this risk particularly strong.

In its latest report on land-grabbing, the World Bank pointed out the merits and potential of peasant agriculture against industrial agriculture. It provides most of the elements needed to understand the negative impacts of the ongoing process. It recognizes, albeit discreetly, the existence of the capture of "rents" (as defined by the economist Ricardo) and thus the value of a tax on land. It seems necessary to rely on the relevant elements of this study to expand the consensus facing land grabbing (whether by domestic or foreign stakeholders), while condemning the specific actions of the World Bank with states and investors which contradict widely the analyzes of its researchers.

Once the appeal signed by the greatest number, we hope to relaunch the process of international collective reflection in order to go further in the proposals. We intend to invest directly and to bring the following proposals :

- Educate and inform people of the country of origin of investment, so they deal with this topic, they put pressure on the concerned stakeholders and they can make consistent policy choices.

- Improve awareness of the people directly affected by the hoarding regarding the risks they are facing and their access to information. They should be aware of their rights, those of the national law but also those included in the international covenants ratified by their state, and means to enforce them. They must be able to know the nature of negotiations, stakeholders and risks that run on their land, and the various tools to mobilize against the appropriation.

- Link the current struggle of these people with activities of the civil society organizations in other countries to bring legal, financial, logistics, media ... support to these movements. These struggles have to force States to establish frameworks for the recognition and security of the rights to access land and natural resources and to restart the aborted process of land reforms. Land policies should be accompanied by policies to support family farming.

- To elaborate on the need for taxes and other fiscal tools that may help land management.

- Continue to put pressure on the various international organizations to affirm the supremacy of human rights over commercial rights and implement international conditions allowing ecological and family agriculture to fulfill their roles.

- Initiate a campaign to move towards a binding international justiciability and legal accountability of companies in front of a World Court.


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