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Version française de cette page : Appropriation de terres à grande échelle et investissement agricole responsable, pour une approche garante des droits de l’homme, de la sécurité alimentaire et du développement durable

Large-Scale Land Acquisition and Responsible Agricultural Investment. For an approach respecting Human Rights, Food Security and Sustainable Development

Position paper of the French diplomacy


This position paper was elaborated based on the reflections of an extending working group involving members of French Cooperation’s “Land and Development” Technical Committee (CTF), the French Inter-Ministerial Food Security Group (GISA) and civil society organizations (Large-scale land appropriations. Analysis of the phenomenon and proposed guidelines for future action, Technical Committee on “Land tenure and development”, Agence Française de Développement, French Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs, June 2010). It was validated by the Secretariat of the Inter-Ministerial International Cooperation and Development Committee (CICID) in June 2010.

In June 2010, the Technical Committee on “Land Tenure and Development” published the document « Large scale land appropriations: Analysis of the phenomenon and proposed guidelines for future action », result of the reflections facilitated by AGTER about large scale land appropriations. The working group has included members of the Technical Committee, members of the French Interministerial Group on Food Security (GISA) and representatives of civil society organisations.

This process of analysis and proposal was the basis for the France’s official position on this issue.

The official position has been validated by the Secretariat of the Inter-ministerial Committee for International Cooperation and Development (CICID) in June 2010. It is available in English and French.

« An effective framework to protect the rights of land users » …

The French position considers that appropriations of land can have positive impacts, but it also notes that they may cause the decline of family farming and have serious impacts in terms of rural migration and food insecurity. France considers that it is necessary to have «an effective framework to protect the rights of land users, to ensure transparency and sustainability of the operations (…) in the economic, social and environmental field, and yo guaranty an equitable sharing of benefits among stakeholders.»

… Through voluntary measures…

To encourage the implementation of such a framework, it calls to establish a body of agreed upon principles in agricultural investment undertaken by the World Bank, FAO, IFAD, and thirty countries. The promoters of this initiative hope to see private investors implementing voluntarily these principles.

… But also through an effective right over States

France is calling « to go beyond voluntary measures ». It suggests especially that the major international covenants which define the fundamental rights of human could « be a basis for the development of a global imperative device to protect the land use rights in a food security perspective ». This proposal is a remarkable step forward from a sovereign state. It paves the way to a truly effective global law that could protect individuals and groups. This position certainly puts France at the forefront of international action to address efficiently the issues raised by the appropriations of land on a large scale.

At the heart of a responsible land governance: the property tax

Moreover, in order to provide a framework for governance of land rights respectful of human rights and sustainable development, France strongly emphasizes a particular tool, the property tax. Thus, it recommends that states affected by the large scale investment implement it to « equitably distribute the wealth generated by the land resources » and deter « misappropriation of rents » and « speculative behavior ». And, again, it underlines the importance of coordinating international action for the harmonization of fiscal frameworks in order to « avoid competition between countries for investment, encouraging the operators to focus on the lowest bidders ».

Two fundamental principles

The position of France is, moreover, committed in its international cooperation and in the production of knowledge and expertise at the global scale. It includes strengthening capacity for impact studies designed to compare the contributions of the various forms of agricultural to sustainable development.

The French position is governed by 2 principles:

  • «respecting land users rights, formal or informal (customary or traditional), individual or collective, is a prerequisite for any investment »; and

  • «ensuring that private use is compatible with general interests, insofar as food security shall be considered as a global public good ».

Find now partners in the « concert of nations »

By identifying the need for new legal and political structures inthe world, France seems to take the measure of the problems associated with the current evolution of land uses. The world social movement must not fail to act so that France remains faithful to its position and finds partners in the « concert of nations » to achieve international progress requirements.

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