CSO Statement on the Voluntary Guidelines on Responsible Governance of Tenure of Lands, Fisheries and Forests

The Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) welcome the results of the second round of negotiations on the Voluntary Guidelines on Responsible Governance of Tenure of Lands, Fisheries and Forests and call on governments to conclude negotiations quickly.

Rome, 17 October 2011

After a week of intense negotiations, CSOs see a positive outcome of these negotiations: 74% of the text of the Voluntary Guidelines were adopted, including critical issues for organizations and social movements, for example, the recognition and protection of customary tenure, the tenure of forests and fisheries and the protection of the defenders of the rights of peasants, farmers, fishermen and fisherwomen, indigenous peoples, pastoralists and nomadic peoples, as well as the commitment to not criminalize the social struggles undertaken to defend their natural resources.

The adopted text reflects the reason why the social movements and SCO were present during these negotiations, recalling by their presence and actions, that the governments have an obligation to defend their interests and comply with their national and international obligations regarding human rights.

Last week, the CSOs have submitted to the President of the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) the Dakar Appeal against land grabbing, signed by 870 organizations around the world. Social movements and CSOs call for the text of this appeal to be taken into account in the negotiations and for a declaration to be made, calling for a worldwide ban on land grabbing.

However, these proposals and other claims of the CSOs face strong resistance and delaying tactics on the part of several governments.

Despite the marathon negotiations and the constructive spirit shown by all parties, it was not possible to complete negotiations, mainly due to the complexity of the issues.

Several controversial issues, such as those relating to investments in agriculture remain open. At its 37th meeting, the CSA will decide on the date on which negotiations will be taken up again.  The CSOs urge the CSA and governments to conclude negotiations as soon as possible while maintaining the agreements already reached.

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