World forum on agrarian reform: Declaration
tony at tlio.org.uk
Tue Dec 14 19:32:16 GMT 2004
WORLD FORUM ON AGRARIAN REFORM
FORO MUNDIAL SOBRE LA REFORMA AGRARIA
VALENCIA 5-8 DICIEMBRE 2004
Agrarian Reform and Access to Natural Resources
A Peoples' Demand
>From December 5, we, representatives from more than 200 peasant, workers',
women's, indigenous peoples', and human rights organizations,
non-governmental organizations, and academic and public institutions from
70 countries and five continents came together at the World Forum on
Agrarian Reform in Valencia, Spain. Over three days of sharing and
discussion, we concluded that rural communities and the countryside are
being systematically destroyed in every part of the world and that the
continuing agrarian crisis has grave consequences for all of humanity.
After identifying the historical and contemporary roots of this crisis, we
crafted alternative strategies for agrarian reform based on peoples'
struggles and the principles of human rights and peoples' food sovereignty.
Although agrarian reform held a central role in the agendas of
international organizations and in the development policies of many
countries during most of the twentieth century, its profile and
achievements diminished during the last two decades despite the tensions
arising from increasing poverty, hunger, and conflicts over land and
Today people of the world are confronted with two models of agriculture,
rural development and food production. The dominant one is an agro-export
model based on the neo-liberal logic of free trade, privatization and
commodification of land, water, forests, fisheries, seeds, knowledge and
life itself. It is guided by a drive for corporate profits and the
boosting of production for export, and is responsible for the increasing
concentration of landholdings, resources, and chains of production and
distribution of food and other agricultural products in the hands of a few
corporations. The price of food and agricultural goods are constantly
declining because of dumping and other factors - as are wages for farmers
and workers. Consumer prices, however, continue to increase. The model is
chemical-intensive and is causing incalculable damage to the environment
and the health of producers, workers and consumers alike.
The peasant and family farm-based food sovereignty model, on the other
hand, prioritizes local production of food for local and national markets,
negates dumping, and uses sustainable production practices based on local
knowledge. Evidence shows that this model is potentially more productive
per unit area, more environmentally sound, and far more capable of
providing rural families with a decent life with dignity, while providing
rural and urban consumers with healthy, affordable and locally-produced
food. However, the dominant, neo-liberal agro-export model is pushing
peasant and family farm agriculture towards extinction.
Over three billion people live in rural areas, many of who are being
increasingly and violently expelled from their lands and alienated from
their sources of livelihood.
Race, social exclusion, culture, religion, gender and economic class have
been and continue to be even today, powerful determinants of who has access
to, and control over these resources, and who is systematically excluded
The expropriation of land and natural resources from local populations, and
the accumulation and concentration of wealth in the hands of traditional
and modern elites has been a violent process. Rural communities,
especially indigenous peoples and socially excluded groups, continue to be
subjected to extreme forms of physical and economic violence by state and
non-state actors such as private corporations and landed elites. This
violence has escalated to shocking levels ranging from political
persecution, repression and incarceration to killings, massacres and even
genocides in the case of some indigenous peoples. Mega development
projects such as large dams, infrastructure projects, extractive industry
and tourism have displaced local populations and destroyed their social
fabric and the very resource bases on which their lives depend.
In both the North and the South, the destruction of peasant production
systems, displacement, deteriorating work conditions and distress migration
have particularly severe impact on women and young people. Young people are
denied the ability to work on land. In the case of women the hardship
created by neo-liberal development model exacerbates traditional
discrimination which prevents women of having access to and control over
The agro-export model is entrenched by the structural adjustment programs
of the World Bank and the IMF, and the free trade regime imposed by the
WTO. At the same time, the state has stepped back from the redistribution
of land and has abdicated its obligation to deliver essential services such
as health, education, social security, protection for workers, public food
distribution systems and marketing support for small producers. The
promotion of individual private property through land cadastres and
alienable titles has hastened the commercialization of land. Market based
land policies, promoted by the World Bank and bilateral donors have led to
heavy indebtedness among poor small scale producers and resulted in
re-concentration of land in the hands of traditional and modern elites.
The agrarian crisis created by the agro-export model under neo-liberalism
is bleak indeed. But despite this, peasant, fishers,' indigenous people's
and rural workers' movements are more alive, more organized and more
sophisticated than ever, and are actively engaged in resisting the
destructive, dominant model. Over the course of history, peasants,
fishers, rural workers and indigenous peoples have developed ways of
producing food and of relating to nature that are based on caring for the
land, water, seeds, animals and life itself. As the dominant development
model advances across the countryside, peoples movements are ready, willing
and able to organize and struggle for, and build the alliances that are
needed for achieving genuine agrarian reform adapted to the needs of each
country and people.
Faced with the disaster that the dominant model is generating, we propose
an alternative model of peoples' food sovereignty based on the rights of
women and men farmers, rural workers and fisher-folk to produce food for
their own local and national markets, with access to and control over their
own territories--including land and natural resources. Peoples' food
sovereignty assures the right of every person to affordable, safe, healthy,
culturally appropriate, nutritious and locally produced food and to a life
with dignity. We urgently demand effective implementation of Article 25 of
the UDHR, Articles 2 and 11 of the International Covenant of Economic,
Social and Cultural Human Rights, as well as Articles 55 and 56 of the U.N.
Charter in order to make the human right to food a reality and to protect
and guarantee access to natural resources.
State-led, redistributive agrarian reform is a key building block of the
peoples' food sovereignty model and must be given a central place in the
development agenda by both governments and society. Contemporary agrarian
reform programmes must guarantee to peasant and indigenous peoples - with
equal opportunities for women and the youth - access to and control over
land, water, seeds, forests, and fisheries, as well as means of production
(financing and training), distribution and marketing. Furthermore,
agrarian reform must guarantee security of land tenure, support the use of
land for productive purposes, and avoid the re-concentration of land.
We call on our organizations, allies and society to:
1. Recognise land as a common good of peoples!
2. Work to get the WTO and other trade and investment agreements out of
food and agriculture!
3. Firmly oppose the World Bank's land and rural development policies!
4. Urgently speak out and act against the violence being perpetrated
against rural peoples to silence their organising and resistance!
5. Organise against the ongoing wars and military occupations which rob
peoples of their food sovereignty and self-determination!
6. Oppose the privatization and commercialization of life through patent
protections and genetic engineering!
7. Actively defend ongoing processes of effective agrarian reform,
including settlements created through land occupations around the world and
other forms of active civil disobedience in the defense of maintaining
natural resources in the hands of the people.
8. Work together to build successful examples of peoples' food sovereignty
at local and national levels!
For a World without Hunger
Agrarian Reform Now!
Valencia, Spain, December 8, 2004
Tony Gosling - +44 117 944 6219
mobile +44 7786 952037
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