News Land Grabbing - January 2015


UN Human Rights experts express concerns over the World Bank's draft Environmental and Social Framework


Independent UN Human Rights experts have written a letter to the World Bank’s President, Mr Jim Yong Kim. The human rights experts express their concern about the lack of “recognition of the central importance of respecting and promoting human rights” in the World Bank’s draft Environmental and Social Framework. This framework should provide environmental and social safeguards for the World Bank’s lending practices. The experts deplore in particular the lack of “meaningful references to human rights and international human rights law”.  The experts point to the fact that the international community has accepted that development and human rights are interdependent and mutually reinforcing and that while the World Bank in not a human rights enforcer, a development bank should take into account this premise as well as finding ways to assist governments in fulfilling their international human rights obligations. The experts state that the Bank’s draft Safeguards are primarily inspired by keeping the cost of lending to the minimum, so that loans can be approved rapidly. The argument of the Bank is that with elaborate safeguards they are less competitive than other lenders which do not require meaningful safeguards in the approval of their loans. This race to the bottom in development finance clearly increases the risk that future funding will go to projects that do not respect human, environmental and socio-economic rights of people. The experts conclude that the Bank has due diligence responsibility to ensure that its projects do not violate human rights.  Read the letter here   



Land and Seed Laws under Attack: Who is pushing changes in Africa


A new report of GRAIN and AFSA provides a comprehensive overview which policies are pushing changes in land and seed laws in Africa. Companies from the agribusiness, agrofuel producers, mining and oil companies and others are interested in securing land in Africa. In practice these companies need policies that privatize land and seed systems in Africa. Agricultural land must be demarcated and registered and farms should be titled. All of this is necessary so that land becomes a tradable commodity, allowing foreign investors to buy up land or have long term leases on it. These companies are assisted by international policymakers to push for reforms tailored to their interest. The report gives an overview of how policies from G8 countries, the USA (Millennium Challenge Corporation), the World Bank, the European Union and the African Union are promoting the privation of land and seed systems in Africa. All of these policies pose a threat to family farmers’ sustainable production systems as well as to African seed exchange systems and as such to the African food production as a whole. Read the report




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