Day 1 of the March negotiations: 3.5 paragraphs done!

This morning, members and participants at the third round of negotiation on the Voluntary Guidelines for the Responsible Investment in the Tenure of Land, Forest, and Fisheries in the context of National Food Security (VGs) were supposed to review and negotiate text that had gone to Friends of the Chair groups. However, many of these groups had failed to reach agreement and thus requested more time. They are in fact, as I write this, meeting in various corners of the Red and Green Rooms with the hopes of coming to some sort of decision for tomorrow.

If you want to see the latest draft of the VGs and learn more about the process, check out this site:

As I mentioned earlier today, there are 50 paragraphs left to agree on. The Chair declared that he would NOT reopen text that had been agreed to in previous negotiations. (This is a good thing as far as Civil Society Actors are concerned).

Today, concensus was reached on 3.5 of the remaining paragraphs.

4.9 falls under “Rights and responsibilities related to tenure” and while I don´t have the exact wording as it was agreed to, the general sense of the paragraph is that States should provide access through impartial and competent judicial and administrative bodies to timely, affordable, and effective means of resolving disputes over tenure rights, including alternative means of resolving such disputes, and should provide effective remedies, which may include a right to appeal, as appropriate. Such remedies should be promptly enforced and may include restitution, indemnity, compensation and reparation. States should  strive to ensure that any person whose human rights are violated in the context of tenure also has access to such means of dispute resolution and remedies.

12.4 falls under investment and now states:

Responsible investments should do no harm, safeguard against dispossession of legitimate tenure rights holders and environmental damage, and should respect human rights. Such investments should be made working in partnership with relevant levels of government and local land, fisheries and forest tenure right holders, respecting their legitimate tenure rights. They should  strive to further contribute to policy objectives including: poverty alleviation, food security and sustainable use of land, fisheries and forests; support local communities, contribute to rural development, promote local food production systems, enhance social and economic development, create employment, diversify livelihoods, provide benefits to the country and its people, including the poor and most vulnerable and comply with national laws and international core labour standards as well as,  when applicable, obligations relating to ILO standards.

Consensus was also achieved on 12.7, and while I do not have the exact working, the general sense is that: States should determine, based on consultation and participation with all affected parties, the conditions that promote responsible investment and then should develop and publicize policies and laws that… awws should require agreements for investments to clearly define the rights and duties …

Paragraph 12.8 deals with proposal s for investments involving the acquisition of tenure rights and a great deal of time was spent trying to come up with suitable wording. There were clear problems linked to confusion over the intent of the paragraph and a lack of shared understandings towards ends.

Brazil is blocking consensus on the first half of the text, which now reads:

States should make provision for investments involving all forms of transactions of tenure rights, including acquisitions and partnership agreements to be subject to consultation and participation with those whose tenure rights, including subsidiary rights, might be affected [or, with those affected].

The second part of the paragraph has consensus:

States and other relevant parties should inform individuals, families and communities of their tenure rights and assist to develop their capacity in consultations and participation implementation, [including through providing]  professional assistance, [as required].

Finally, before lunch there was a discussion about the glossary. Long story, short: the glossary has been reduced to key technical terms and has been over to the Friends of the Chair group on Language Harmonization.

Essentially, the Chair proposed that the glossary goes back to the language harmonization group and encouraged them to adopt in bloc. The criteria has been established and there has been significant input from members and participants. BUT, before they tackle the issue of Appendix 1: The glossary,  the Chair asked the language harmonization group to  address outstanding terms of a language harmonization nature. A list of these terms was provided on the screen. The Language Harmonization group was asked to deal with this and issues of translation for  Tuesday afternoon, so they can turn to translation issues by Wednesday. Then Wednesday afternoon they can turn to the glossary.

So, priority of work for the language harmonization group is: 1) Language harmonization (consistency);  2)      Translation; 3) Glossary (Wednesday).

The Chair feels that we cannot move to the glossary before the text is completed. This needs to happen before we can move to the glossary.

There was agreement for the Plenary to move towards addressing a condensed glossary that contains only key technical terms not defined elsewhere in international agreements and treaties with the understanding that many terms have nationally defined definitions based on specific national contexts and also that the glossary could help non-technical readers understand the meaning of the documents.

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