FAO Tenure Guidelines a modest step, governments must commit to implementation
After working for more than a decade to put land on top of the international agenda, FoodFirst Information and Action Network (FIAN) welcomes the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) adoption of the FAO (the U.N. Food and Argiculture Organization) guidelines on Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forest in the context of National Food Security.
Tuesday, 15 May 2012, by HRH oslo, based on FIAN International information
This serves as a striking contrast to the situation following the International Conference on Agrarian Reform and Rural Development (ICARRD) in 2006 when powerful governments opposed implementation of their ICARRD commitments to put land and natural resources at the center of FAO’s work.
Enhancing rights for land
”We expect that these guidelines become a turning point in the international policy framework about governance of land, fisheries and forest”, said Flavio Valentine, FIAN General Secretary. Defending an equitable to access to land and resources as a precondition for a decentralised sustainable and autonomous food production system is a crucial component of the right to adequate food, among other rights. Land, fisheries and forests cannot be left to the mercy of markets and speculators. FIAN engaged in the Guidelines process with the hope to consolidate and expand the international human rights framework with respect to governance and natural resources vis-à-vis tendencies of increasing privatisation of commodification of natural resources.
So far only indigenous people have international recognition of their rights to land and natural resources. For other rural groups, like peasants, pastoralists and fishing communities, the international recognition of their right to land and natural resources is implicit and scattered in different instruments. It was an ambitious goal to push for incorporation of the standards developed by the UN human rights system into FAO’s tenure work, said Sofia Suarez, one of the civil society representatives involved in the negotiations and coordinator of FIAN’s programme on Access to Natural resources.
According to Ms Suarez, the resistance of many governments to accept binding standards and fully apply a human rights approach to tenure issues made it possible to adopt a much clearer language. It was appalling to hear several governments saying over and over again during the negotiations that tenure is a technical matter and therefore has nothing to do with human rights, she said. In any case a modest first step has been made. FIAN commits to use the adopted Guidelines to support current struggle against land grabbing and defend the rights to land and natural resources of small-scale food producers and will interpret ambiguous sections of the Guidelines in full compliance with the highest human rights standards developed so far in relation with land and natural resources.
The real and the most important challenge of changing things on the ground remains unresolved. Violations of the right to food and other human rights related to the destruction of existing access to land, fisheries and forest are on the increase in many countries due to a complex interplay of factors. FIAN therefore calls on the states to urgently deal with this serious problem and take all necessary measures to improve governance of tenure at national level according the guidelines.
HRH oslo, based on FIAN International information