Concept Notes on Food Sovereignty
“Corporate Invasion to Food Sector”

 

Background

Asia region is crucial to European economic interests. The EU has already established its footprint in Asia with an ambitious agreement with South Korea; an ASEAN strategy based on individual agreements as building blocks towards a region-to-region EU-ASEAN framework; FTA negotiations with Japan; and ongoing investment negotiations with China and Myanmar. This Asia strategy will need to be pursued, consolidated and enriched over the next few years.

In south-east Asia, following the agreement with Singapore, the conclusion of negotiations with Vietnam has set a second benchmark for engaging with other partners. The EU remains committed to resuming negotiations with Malaysia and Thailand also to conclude the investment negotiations with Myanmar. EU will also to open FTA negotiations with the Philippines and Indonesia.

In 2015, EU released a new strategy on “Trade for All” that EU have a new approach on Trade and Investment strategy in order to boost economic growth. Of course, by encouraging the expansion of exports and investment in the partner country, particularly in the agricultural sector. Another new approach One of the aims of the EU is to ensure that economic growth goes hand in hand with social justice, respect for human rights, high labour and environmental standards, and health and safety protection.

This new approach must should be criticized given the EU is the country of origin of the many TNCs that operating in developing countries. In fact, sometimes they doing human rights abuses in carrying out its business activities. For example, The FTA between Indonesia and the European Union will increase an aggressive investment coming from the European Union in the agricultural sector especially related to the EU renewable energy policy. The EU’s policy is indicated to escalate the farm land deprivation and marginalization of small-holder farmers in their role as food producers.

Therefore, the Food Sovereignty Working Group will explore 3 sub-theme:

The Problem: Exposing the New approach on “EU Trade for All “, especially in food and agricultural sector, and an outlook of EU Economic Partnership with Asian Countries, Corporates invasion in food and agricultural in Asian Countries and Human Rights abuses to the People.


The emergence of a new approach to Asia, which is called "EU Trade for All" is a symptom of the increasingly massive invasion of multinational corporations in the European free trade agreements with Asian countries. To the experience of some Asian countries, such as Indonesia, invasion of corporations have lead to the diminishing access of peasants to land, criminalization of the peasants, and so on. This invasion may become a serious threat to the sustainability of food sovereignty of Asian countries and increase human rights abuses by corporation.  Serious policy measures is necessary to take to ensure food sovereignty in Asia and eliminate human rights violations by corporations.

 

Lessons Learned: Reclaiming Peoples’ Rights – in Asia & Eropa

The extent of the impact of multinational corporation invasion over the globe have been resisted by various sectors. Peoples’ Tribunal against Monsanto was a civil society advocacy experience that we can refer to the fight against corporate crime.  The demands for wage increase by workers, agrarian reform by peasants,  access to cheaper health services, as well as the call to bring multinational corporate violating human rights accountable are responses towards the invasion of multinational corporations.

The experiences of Asian and European countries on the success and challenges  faced by their community in claiming back their rights that have been deprived by the actions of some corporation needs to be revisited.   The evaluation and learning from the success or defeat can be a model for people's resistance in different parts of our world.

 

Strategies

The practices of human rights abuses by corporation seem to be untouchable by the law. Legal enforcement by the State against corporate for their bad business practices is toothless.  Even more, the influence of corporations in legal and political systems damaging the role of the State to protect human rights.  In its development, the application of the UN’s Guiding Principles is still far from what is expected. This is because the Guiding Principles is considered to be blunt in law enforcement on cases of human rights abuses by corporations.

The emergence of the UN Resolution 26/9 concerning the need to create a binding international instrument on Business and Human Rights for accountability of multinational corporations, might be an effective instrument in law enforcement against corporations. Binding Treaty on Business and Human Rights would be an effective remedy mechanism followed by strict and binding sanctions.

To that end, Binding Treaty could be an alternative strategy to restore the rights of people who have been deprived by the actions of corporation.  So that it is necessary for civil society to advance a concrete offer concerning the form and content of a Treaty which could effectively answer the issues of food sovereignty in the world.

Note: The Thematic Cluster 'Food Sovereignty - Beyond Zero Hunger' is being coordinated by Food Coalition/CHRD (Mongolia), Indonesia Global Justice (IGJ), and the Finnish AEPF Committee.

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