World Food Security Committee puts corporate investors before human rights

17 October 2014 Feature
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The IUF and representatives of indigenous peoples, farmers and NGOs taking part in the 2014 Committee on World Food Security (CFS) have sharply criticized the Committee’s newly adopted Principles for Responsible Investment in Agriculture and Food Systems for placing corporate profit before the human right to food.

The Principles (known as the RAI principles) adopted this week in Rome during the 41st session (October 13-18) of the CFS come out of more than two years of negotiations. The IUF, along with other civil society organizations, participated via the Committee’s Civil Society Mechanism in the hope of achieving a set of principles which would promote the right to food by protecting the rights of workers and small producers, protect common access to land, water, seeds, forests and other resources and support public policies and investment to encourage sustainable agriculture.

The CFS Civil Society Mechanism (CSM) immediately issued a statement pointing out that the failure to ground the RAI principles in an overarching human rights framework leaves them “fundamentally flawed”. The CSM expressed concern that the RAI may be used to legitimize irresponsible investment, and called upon the CFS “to actively monitor what is done in the name of the principles.”

Svetlana Boincean, the IUF representative in the CSM, commented, “We made significant progress in the negotiations in winning concrete recognition of the importance of workers’ rights but this is undermined by the text on trade and investment agreements which we know will destroy those very rights.”

The CFS is the intergovernmental committee which is supposed to be “the most inclusive international and intergovernmental platform for all stakeholders to work together in a coordinated way to ensure food security and nutrition for all”.  In this instance some “stakeholders” clearly had more weight than others.