Resource Rights

The Via Campesina to Hold 5th International Conference

Partner press release from Via Campesina

More than 500 men and women farmers and leaders from 70 countries will gather in Mozambique from October 16 to 23, 2008 to attend the 5th International Conference of the Via Campesina. Grassroots International is providing support for its partners, including members from Brazil, Haiti, Central America and Mexico, as well as a delegation from Indonesia, to participate in the international event. Two staff members from Grassroots International will also attend part of the conference, which will focus on Food Sovereignty and the current agricultural crisis. The Via Campesina's press release outlines more details of the conference.

Manufacturing Hunger: Indonesia’s Food Crisis

The principle of food sovereignty places local control of food production and distribution at its core. Unfortunately, throughout the world industrial farms, corporations and the policies that benefit them take that control away from local farmers and communities. In a recent report , Grassroots International's colleagues at the Oakland Institute describe this situation and its dire consequences in Indonesia where "excessive dependence on global markets, followed by the collapse of traditional agricultural structures, as well as almost non-existent social policies, have manufactured widespread hunger in Indonesia today."

West Bank Wall Elevates Barrier to Water Access for Palestinians

The construction of the Wall by the Israeli government in the West Bank is viewed by many as the third and final wave of expulsion of the Palestinian people, following the forced Palestinian exodus in 1948 in the wake of Israel's independence, and then the 1967 Israeli occupation of East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza. Perhaps, more than any other element of the occupation, the Wall illustrates the severity of the Palestinian situation and the urgency for access to resources, including water.

Livelihood Rights: The Right to Exist

Members of Grassroots International's partner La Via Campesina -- an international network of peasants, indigenous peoples, fishers, pastoralists, women, and youth -- gathered in late June in Jakarta, Indonesia to defend their right to exist, and called for a UN Convention on the Rights of Peasants. (Below, see their final declaration)

Under intense threat from the expansion of agro-fuels in South America and Indonesia, militarization in Colombia and South Korea, and increasing food prices, rural families are voicing a predicament that affects all communities.

Abolish the MST, or the Unproductive Latifundos?

In late June, Grassroots partner, the Landless Workers Movement (MST) made public a document they got a hold of that showed the intention of the Rio Grande do Sul state Public Ministry to "dissolve" the MST. The document is based on a meeting, on December 3, 2007, during which the state Public Ministry decided: to outlaw any mobilization of landless workers, including marches and walks, to intervene in settlement schools, to criminalize leaders and members, and to "deactivate" all the encampments in Rio Grande do Sul. 

New Community Guide to Environmental Health Tackles Resource Rights from the Grassroots

Friends and supporters of Grassroots International may be familiar with Hesperian Foundation, a non-profit publisher of community health education materials, best known for Where There Is No Doctor, recognized by WHO as "the most widely-used health manual in the world." With this month's publication of the long-anticipated A Community Guide to Environmental Health, Hesperian celebrates more than just the release of another book. It allows us all to celebrate and learn from the myriad ways in which people at the grassroots can and do take control over their own environmental health.

A Crisis of Empty Promises

Our partners in Guatemala have told us: the current food crisis will continue unless we guarantee the land, water and seeds rights of communities necessary to grow food. The same message is being echoed in Brazil, Mexico and many neighborhoods in the U.S.

In two separate statements, Guatemala's National Peasant and Indigenous Coordination (CONIC) and Brazil's Small Producers Movement (MPA) put forth food sovereignty as a solution to the crisis: the right of communities to produce food for local markets and for consumers to have access to local healthy foods. Both organizations denounce the expansion of industrial agriculture and growing control of agribusinesses for contributing to the hunger of urban and rural communities.

Farmers bringing message to the Food Crisis Summit in Rome expelled

Rome, Italy, 3 June 2008

Watch the video of the action in Rome!

Farmer and civil society leaders carrying out a peaceful action today in Rome, Italy at the FAO Summit on the Food Crisis were forcefully removed from the premises. At around 1:30pm farmers and representatives of civil society organisations staged an action at the press room to deliver a message that millions of additional people are joining the ranks of the hungry as the corporations that control the global food system are making record profits.

The Time has Come for La Via Campesina and Food Sovereignty

Around the world it seems more and more that the time has come for La Via Campesina.  The global alliance of peasant and family farm organizations has spent the past decade perfecting an alternative proposal for how to structure a country's food system, called Food Sovereignty.  It was clear at the World Forum for Food Sovereignty, held last year in Mali, that this proposal has been gaining ground with other social movements, including those of indigenous peoples, women, consumers, environmentalists, some trade unions, and others.  Though when it comes to governments and international agencies, it has until recently been met with mostly deaf ears.  But now things have changed.  The global crisis of rising food prices, which has already

Water conflicts in the São Francisco River basin in Brazil

We have documented several cases of land conflicts in Brazil, a country of considerable territorial dimensions. Land conflicts are not the only contradiction in the largest South American economy. Brazil is also facing a growing problem of water conflicts, despite the fact that Brazil holds 8% of the world’s freshwater reserves.

Free translation from the Landless Workers Movement (MST’s) website