South-East Asia / Agrofuel: UN rights experts raise alarm on land development mega-projects
OHCHR release, 23 May 2012

GENEVA, SWITZERLAND: The UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food Olivier De Schutter, and the UN Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, James Anaya urged South-East Asian states not to sideline the human rights of communities across the region when assessing large-scale land acquisitions for export-led crops and agrofuel production. “Governments must step up their vigilance in regard to large-scale land acquisitions to ensure that the fundamental rights of these communities are not violated, be they small-farmers, fishers, hunters, foragers or craftsmen,” they said, highlighting acute cases of competing land interests in South-East Asia, where agrofuel developments are rapidly expanding. “These are mostly indigenous families whose traditional livelihoods are rooted in their local environment,” Anaya warned. “Communities are often ancestrally tied to the areas in question and may not possess official deeds to the land, making their tenure highly vulnerable in the face of land conversion deals.”“Converting bio-diverse forest land to intensive monocropping can entail wide environmental impacts, from the loss of forest-dwelling game species in Meruake, to reduced resistance to flooding and landslides in Isabela,” the Special Rapporteurs noted. “We must also be sensitive to the impacts of sudden influxes of workers on local food access, traditions and ways of life.” The UN experts expressed concerns about an apparent lack of adequate consultation and transparency in both land acquisition processes. In neither case are indigenous communities believed to have been sufficiently informed and consulted about the land acquisitions and their repercussions on local life. Read the release …