Oxfam response to UN Committee on World Food Security Endorsement of Principles

The UN Committee on World Food Security (CFS), the central and most inclusive institution of the global governance on food and agriculture issues, today endorsed the Principles on Responsible Investment in Agriculture and Food Systems after a two year open, transparent and participatory process by a wide range of stakeholders. Civil society, including Oxfam, participated throughout the process. But the final adoption of the Principles remains the sole responsibility of the CFS Member States. 

Oxfam spokesperson Thierry Kesteloot said:  

“The member governments of the CFS have failed here to promote responsible investment in global agriculture. These new principles are too weak, vague and in a number of areas are actually worse than the standards that already exist. Unscrupulous investors could find ways to use the principles to cover irresponsible deals. 

“Oxfam regrets that the Principles fail to meet the ambition. They won’t work to promote global food security. We will keep campaigning to ensure they are not used to weaken human rights. We will continue to pressure investors and governments to account for their impacts on human rights, food and nutritional security, as well as on our environment. However we do believe that these Principles will not help us much in those efforts,” Mr. Kesteloot added. 

Oxfam says the new Principles allow human rights to be subordinated to trade interests. They will allow investors to pick and choose the elements they prefer to implement or to ignore. They fail to provide clear guidance on how investors should avoid land-grabs. 

“Governments refused to apply Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) for all affected communities and that omission is frankly deplorable. It should be clear that all investors have clear legal obligations to protect human rights and to avoid environmental damage and land-grabs” concluded Mr. Kesteloot.

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Notes to editors: 

For Oxfam's analysis on the Voluntary Guidelines, read our blog and download our discussion paper: Spotlight on the Right to Food: 10 years of Voluntary Guidelines

Contact information: 

For interviews and further information, please contact Mr. Thierry Kesteloot in Rome, at tke@oxfamsol.be.

For updates, please follow @Oxfam.