Declaration against Market-Based Land Reform Policy

The Land is Ours office at
Mon Apr 29 10:42:34 BST 2002


Market-Based Land Reform Policy

Statement from International Seminar on International
Seminar on the Negative Impacts of World Bank held in
Washington DC April 15-17, 2002 with representatives of Via Campesina and 

Final Declaration
Washington, DC
April 17, 2002

We are members of peasant, research, environmental, religious and human 
rights organizations that have met in Washington, DC from April 15-17. We 
share the struggle for a world and a society in which the guiding principle 
will be the human being and the full enjoyment of all human rights for all 
people and communities; in which the right to land of rural communities is 
recognized; the food sovereignty of
all countries is guaranteed; the environmental
sustainability of the planet is preserved and the cultural integrity of all 
peoples is assured.

Alarmed by the intensity with which the land policies
promoted by the World Bank and other international
cooperation agencies are depriving the poorest rural people of their means 
of livelihood, we have analyzed various aspects of these policies in light 
of our own testimonies and experiences. We have found that the Bank imposes 
the same programs on innumerable countries, without regard for their 
history, local realities and customs of production and land use. Due to 
their impact, we conclude that the World Bank's land policies basically 
seek to make land into a commodity, and in the end, place it at the service 
of the interests of international trade and transnational corporations. 
These policies are not the agrarian reform that social movements have 
demanded throughout their historic struggle, and therefore will not lead to 
substantial improvements in the living standards of the poor, nor will they 
lead to full development. By their nature land markets do not help the 
needy, the poor. Markets
respond to money, not to human needs.

Specifically, we find that:
* The land administration projects of the Bank - including surveys, 
mapping, cadastres, registries and the granting of individual, alienable 
titles - while they try to address long-standing demands by various rural 
groups for security of tenure, are designed primarily to create the 
conditions for "functioning land markets," and all too frequently result in 
a massive or on-going sell-off of land, in the re-concentration of property 
and in an increase in conflicts inside our communities, as we have seen in 
the case of Thailand.

* The privatization of public or communal lands leads to the 
re-concentration of land in the hands of large private landowners, and to 
the loss of land-use rights by some or all of the members of our 
communities. The privatization of communal lands undercuts community 
strategies of survival, cultural cohesion and mechanisms of cooperation, 
leading to greater impoverishment.

* So-called "market-based land reform," "market-led land reform," 
"market-assisted land reform," or "community-based land reform" is another 
attempt to evade the true redistribution of landed property and creates 
more problems than it solves. Our experiences in countries like South 
Africa, Brazil, Colombia and Guatemala indicate that these programs, by 
their very nature, will never be able to create conditions to overcome the 
landlessness of millions of families. The programs have excluded the 
poorest of the poor for not meeting required preconditions and 
traditionally marginalized groups like rural women, and cannot be applied 
to indigenous communities. The land which is offered for sale is of the 
poorest quality, and landowners typically take advantage of these programs 
to get rid of marginal lands or those far removed from market centers. In 
other cases the land offered comes from medium or small landowners in 
bankruptcy due to the freedom of imports, and as a result the programs do 
not have redistributive effects, leaving large landed estates intact. The 
non-integrated nature of the programs means that the productive projects of 
the beneficiaries fail, because they often lack the resources needed for 
food security, working capital, basic services and technical assistance. In 
all of the countries analyzed in the seminar, the great majority of the 
beneficiaries are behind in the payment of their credits. So, massive 
indebtedness and the abandonment or the loss of the land to pay off the 
loan will end up intensifying the poverty of the few beneficiary families. 
In addition to inviting corruption and political clientelism, these 
programs have been used to undercut agrarian reform policies based on the 
expropriation or forfeiture of land held by large landowners, and to 
distract, undermine, divide, and curb the movements of landless peasants.

* Programs of "productive associations" or "strategic
alliances" recently supported by the Bank are of grave concern because they 
tend to subordinate peasants, communities, and their lands to the service 
of large landowners and transnational corporations. To presuppose a level 
playing field between large and small "partners" is to chain the small to 
the strategies of the large.

In light of this evidence, we demand:

Of the World Bank:

* The immediate end of its current land policies and their replacement with 
policies based on the right to land and food;

* The publication of all the documents and information available on the 

Of governments:

* The decisive participation of peasants, other popular sectors and their 
organizations in the planning, management and implementation of economic 
programs in general, and of rural development and agrarian reform programs 
in particular.

* Programs of land redistribution by means of expropriation with or without 
compensation and forfeiture of quality land, in which the State assumes its 

* Fully integrated policies of support for the small farm economy, which 
include macroeconomic aspects, marketing, technical assistance, credit, 
processing of products, protection of national production, and respect for 
the integrity of culture and environmental sustainability.

* Legal protection and the creation of agricultural
tribunals to resolve agrarian conflicts;

* Formulation of policies based on respect for human rights and the 
principles of social justice and gender equality, rather than on market 

* We call upon social organizations and civil society to join in the 
defense of agrarian reform and the struggle for the principles here expressed.

Washington, DC, April 17, 2002

Actionaid - Brasil
ADC - Alianza Democratica Campesina, El Salvador
ANUC-UR / Associacion Nacional de Usuarios Campesinos -
Unidad e Reconstrucion, Colômbia
APR - Animação Pastoral Rural, Brasil
BIC - Bank Information Center, USA
Bretton Woods Project, England
CECCAM, México
CNA - Coordinador Nacional Agrario, Colômbia
COCOCH, Honduras
CNOC - Coordinadora Nacional de Organizaciones Campesinas, Guatemala
CONGCOOP - Coordinadora Nacional de ONG y Cooperativas, Guatemala
CPT / Comissão Pastoral da Terra, Brasil
Environmental Defense, USA
FENSUAGRO / Federacion Nacional Sindical Unitária
Agropecuária, Colômbia
FIAN - Foodfirst Information and Action Network, Germany
Food First Institute for Food and Development, USA
Franciscan and Dominicans International, Switzerland
Franciscan Network, USA
Franciscan Washington Office, USA
Global Land Reform Policy Center, Zimbabwe
INESC - Instituto de Estudos Sócio-Econômicos, Brasil
La Via Campesina, Honduras
Land Research and Action Network, Brazil/South
LPM / Landless Peoples' Movement, South Africa
Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns, USA
MST / Movimento Nacional dos Trabalhadores Rurais Sem Terra, Brasil
NLC - National Land Comittee, South Africa
Nkuzi Development Association, South Africa
PER / Project of Ecological Recovery, Thailand
Rede Brasil sobre Instituições Financeiras Multilaterais, Brasil
Rede Social de Justiça e Direitos Humanos
Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Center for Human Rights, USA
War on Want, England


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