On May 11, 2012, at the 38th Session of the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) in Rome, Italy, members States endorsed the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security. As a network supporting land rights for the poor, LandNet Rwanda Chapter commends the endorsement of these Voluntary Guidelines as a remarkable advance towards people-centred land governance that is firmly anchored in a human rights framework.
The Voluntary Guidelines are meant to serve as the global reference for the governance of land, fisheries and forests. Through these guidelines, the CFS, hosted by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), aims to promote “sustainable social and economic development that can help eradicate poverty and food insecurity, and encourages responsible investment.”
The Voluntary Guidelines now anchor the tenure of land, forests and fisheries in food security, the right to food, poverty eradication and sustainable development. Crucially, the Guidelines are largely consistent with other international treaties, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and make a reference to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
Through a two-year consultation process, and inclusive negotiations, shortcomings of the Guidelines improved substantially, increasing the likelihood that they will serve as a useful model that can be implemented by governments. An important innovation in the United Nations system was the creation of the Civil Society Mechanism of the CFS, which gave civil society organisations a strong role alongside governments and other stakeholders in the formulation of the Guidelines.
The Guidelines support access to systems of justice and transparent information concerning tenure, while promoting women’s land rights and gender equality. Moreover, the rights of indigenous peoples are protected through recognition of their ancestral domains. Non-state actors, such as multinational corporations, are given clear responsibilities to respect human rights. Furthermore the Voluntary Guidelines represent a first important step towards people-centred land governance.
Click here to read the final draft of the Voluntary Guidelines on the CFS website.