The challenge of the Voluntary Guidelines in the Context of National Food Security

Colloquium Paper No. 37
04 February 2016
Paper

The approval of the Voluntary Guidelines on Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security in 2012 marked a historic victory. The high level of participation of civil society organizations and social movements in the negotiation of every word of this text sets this global policy document apart from the majority of other initiatives of this nature, to date.

In the decades since the formation of the United Nations, numerous international declarations have contributed to the construction of a global normative framework for human rights, each with their own processes of negotiation and impact. The approval of the Voluntary Guidelines on Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Cont ext of National Food Security in 2012 marked a historic victory. For years peasant, indigenous, pastoralist and food sovereignty activists had been fighting for and negotiating over the right to have rights which honor and respect the diverse and complex systems of tenure and social relations that shape peoples’ connections to the places they inhabit, cultivate, steward, fish and are spiritually connected to.

The high level of participation of civil society organizations and social movements in the negotiation of every word of this text sets this global policy document apart from the majority of other initiatives of this nature, to date. Because of this investment by civil society, we argue that there is greater transformative potential in the implementation process, and likelihood that the actual practices of nation-states may be altered. The establishment of these tenure guidelines (hereafter TGs) is therefore an important step in the recognition of the rights of marginalized peoples and solidifies a new normative framework based in human rights.

* This paper was published as part of the 2 day Colloquium Global governance/politics, climate justice & agrarian/social justice and selected for republishing on the TNI website. All papers can be found at the website of ISS.