The U.S. Remains Committed to Protecting the Land Rights of People Around the World

U.S. Mission to the UN Agencies in Rome
October 19, 2011

ROME – The United States government commends the United Nations Committee on Food Security (CFS) for the extraordinary work that it has done on the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Lands, Fisheries and Forests, achieving consensus on approximately seventy percent of the document during the July and October negotiations.

The U.S. government has dedicated substantial resources to the negotiation process and remains committed to completing Guidelines that will provide safeguards that protect the property rights of the vulnerable and marginalized, including indigenous people and women. The United States has been pleased to Chair these CFS-led Intergovernmental negotiations.

These Guidelines will establish an international framework to improve land governance, which will strengthen property rights, support transparent procedures for land allocation, and promote accessibility and accountability of land administration agencies.

Recent reports like the World Bank’s Rising Global Interest in Farmland, and Oxfam’s Land and Power, and stories in the press shed light on the phenomenon of large-scale land acquisitions, which are sometimes referred to as ‘land grabbing’, particularly in Africa. We recognize the concerns with some of the land investments that have taken place in recent years.

“We believe that weak land governance is at the heart of the ‘land grabbing’ phenomenon and that improving land governance is central to addressing it,” said Ertharin Cousin, the United States Representative to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organizations in Rome.

The U.S. government recognizes the need to ensure that safeguards are in place as investment in agriculture is necessarily expanded in order to meet the Millennium Development Goals and increase food security. These Guidelines will help governments attract responsible investment and put in place strong governance systems to prevent ‘land grabbing’. The Guidelines create a framework that will encourage small-holders to invest in their own farms and move towards food security.

Around the world, the U.S. government is actively supporting improvements in land governance that strengthen the property rights of local people and communities, and improve the capacity of land administration agencies to provide necessary services.

The U.S. Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) has committed over $250m in funding for land governance projects in 11 partner countries, and USAID in the past three years has funded $200m in land tenure programming in 30 countries around the world. Both anticipate making increased investments in this area over the coming years.

These programs are already working on the ground to put in place the principles of responsible land governance that are at the heart of the Voluntary Guidelines.


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