Countries Adopt Guidelines on ‘Land Grabbing’

Posted May 11th, 2012 at 8:35 am (UTC-5)
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The United Nations has published guidelines on so-called “land grabbing,” the large-scale purchase of farm and fishing lands by rich countries in the developing world.

Members of the U.N. Committee on World Food Security endorsed the guidelines Friday at a meeting in Rome.

The guidelines, which are not legally binding, call on governments to protect legitimate land tenure rights of local populations, and provide ways of settling land disputes.

They also urge governments to avoid secrecy and corruption in land deals, and to ensure lands are used responsibly.

Human rights groups say large-scale land purchases in Africa and Asia have violated local people's rights and threatened their food security.

This week, Uganda threatened to kick out the British charity Oxfam after the group accused the government of forcing 20,000 people off their land to make way for a British forestry company.

The new, voluntary guidelines are the result of a three-year process headed by the U.N. Food and Agricultural Organization.

The FAO says people from 150 countries representing governments, activists, academics, the private sector, and U.N. agencies took part in meetings that resulted in the guidelines.