The international mobilization conference on “The Right to Land and Livelihood” took place at the International Conference Centre, Geneva, on 12 and 13 September 2011. It brought together more than 30 speakers and 120 participants over two days. The organisers take this opportunity to thank all the volunteers, partners, speakers and participants for the contributions they made -‐ it was a wonderful collective effort.
The main objectives of the conference were to:
- − examine the impact of globalization on rural areas;
- − support and develop strategies for non-‐violent change;
- − promote land rights and community control of resources;
- − promote the empowerment of women; and
- − raise awareness about and gain support for Jan Satyagraha – the March ofJustice – 2012.
The conference gave rise to a rich discussion among a diverse but committed gathering of people from political, academic, community and business backgrounds.The participants agreed to network through a range of follow-‐up activities in India and a number of countries in Europe, Africa and Latin America.
UN2 representatives such as Olivier de Schutter and Manuel Montes interacted with leaders of social movements such as Salete Maria Carollo from the landless workers’ movement of Brazil (MST3). Flavio Valente from the Food Information Action Network (FIAN), and Madiodio Niasse from the International Land Coalition (ILC). Rajagopal from Ekta Parishad gave focus to the Jan Satyagraha4. – March for Justice -‐ 2012, and the preparatory mobilization,, Samwad Yatra, starting a year earlier on 2 October 2011.
Key points made by speakers and participants included:
Human beings and their fundamental rights are at the centre of our concern,
Human beings have an economic, social, cultural and spiritual relationship to land. The value of the relationship to land, water, forest and air is not negotiable.
The role of women is central to our agenda requiring specific priority actions to promote women’s rights and protect their relationship to the land.
1 See full text in conference concept paper
Solidarity is a principle as well as the way we should work in practice: this includes concentrating on the common points of principle in our struggle rather than the differences.
Around the world, people who have been marginalized are claiming their rights through social movements which are characterized by democratic decision-‐making, non-‐violence and a long-‐term vision.
While focus is important we also need to recognize the diversity of rural workers, from family farmers on smallholdings to plantation employees.
The transformative agenda that is needed is not short term but a generational struggle. Let us build on what has been achieved by our foremothers and fathers and proclaim the right of everyone to a decent standard of living.
A full report of the conference will be available shortly on the website of Ekta Europe. It will set out the agreed next steps to ensure follow-‐up action.
As land rights and food security issues gain increasing attention, it is more important than ever to keep the pressure on international institutions and national policy-‐makers. One example is the need to advocate with and monitor the Land Reform Council that is in the process of being set up in India. All relevant actions being taken at national and international levels need our vigilance and international solidarity.5 An important step in the struggle is to ensure that all possible support is given to the Jan Satyagraha – March for Justice -‐ 2012, in terms of solidarity actions across the globe as well as press coverage, logistics and financial support.
With grateful regards, in solidarity
The organising committee of the conference.