FIAN- 25 years supporting the struggle for Human Right to Adequate food (english) 13.09 small-1
right to adequate food
FIAN - 25 years supporting
the struggle for the human
Published by FIAN International
Designed by Ewa Garcia Folmer
Printed on recycled paper in Germany at Integra, Walldorf
Photographs by Tom Henning Bratlie (Cover/Back)
Mohan Dhamotharan (p.3),
James Rodrigues, mimondo.org (p.9),
Roman Herre (p.4, 11),
FIAN International (p.5, 8, 17),
Sebastian Rötters (p. 6),
FIAN Philippines (p. 10),
FIAN India (p. 12),
FIAN Belgium (p.14),
FIAN Nepal (p.15)
Contents of this publication may be quoted or reproduced, provided that the source of information is
acknowledged. The publishers would like to receive a copy of the document
in which this report is used or quoted.
Produced with financial assistance from the European Commission (EC)
FIAN International was founded in 1986 and was the first international human rights organization to cam-
paign for the realization of the right to food. FIAN is a grassroots oriented not-for-profit organization,
independent of any government, political ideology or religion. It has consultative status with the United
Nations. FIAN’s work is based on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and on the International
Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in particular. FIAN’s vision is a world free from hunger,
in which every person can fully enjoy their human rights in dignity, particularly the right to adequate food.
Hunger is increasing. The Food and Agriculture
Organization of the United Nations (FAO) reports
that the number of undernourished people has es-
calated dramatically over the last few years and that
almost one billion people suffer from hunger today.
People who go hungry do not just lack food. They
lack control over basic resources like land, water,
seeds or income – just as they lack political power
and access to justice. In the majority of cases,
hunger can be attributed to a violation of the hu-
man right to food - one of the most widely violated
As the cases in this publication demonstrate,
those responsible for violations – national govern-
ments in the North and in the South, supranational
organizations and private companies – can be
clearly identified and held accountable.
This is the work of the Food First Information and
Action Network – FIAN International.
Hunger in the World
A Human Rights challenge
25 years supporting the struggle for the human right to food
limitedtocivilandpoliticalrights,” recalls Rolf
Künnemann, one of the founders.
Over the past 25 years FIAN International has
formalized its role, expanding from a basement
headquarters to a network of national offices in
18 countries, both in the North and in the South.
FIAN´s individual members throughout the world
join the effort to denounce right to food violations.
FIAN was granted consultative status to the United
Nations in 1989. This has enabled the organization
to influence the human rights protection system in
favor of vulnerable groups including peasant farm-
ers, the landless and women.
Twenty-five years ago FIAN International took its
first steps to defend the basic right of all people to
permanent and unrestricted access to adequate,
nutritious and culturally appropriate food that
enables them to live with dignity.
FIAN’s mandate has always focused on support-
ing the struggle of those fighting against unjust and
oppressive practices that prevent them from feed-
ing themselves and their families. This long-term
view is reflected in the organization’s strategy.
states FIAN’s Secretary-General Flavio Valente.
In order to support those struggling to realize their
right to food FIAN rigorously reports on human
rights violations and helps to build the capacity of
individuals and communities to defend their rights
against complicit governments and corporations.
The brain-child of a group of committed activists,
FIAN remains the only international human rights
organization working exclusively to promote the
right to food.
FIAN has contributed to the elaboration of UN
General Comment No. 12 on the Right to
Food in 1999, now the most authoritative legal
interpretation of the right to food. The organiza-
tion was also a key player in the adoption of the
Voluntary Guidelines on the Right to Food by the
FAO member states in 2004, and in the adop-
tion of the Optional Protocol to the International
Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural
In all these achievements, FIAN has closely net-
worked with other non-government organizations
(NGOs) and social movements, and in doing so
has expanded spaces for civil society at different
levels. Margret Vidar, legal officer at the Food and
Agriculture Organization (FAO), emphasizes
FIAN’s contribution to the current standard prac-
tice at FAO where NGOs can speak on equal
footing with governments:
Ohoto: UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferré
FIAN also pioneers discussion on issuesrelated
to the right to food through collaboration with
other civil society organizations, most promi-
nently in the annual publication Right to Food
and Nutrition Watch which tackles critical topics
such as the increasing production of agrofuels,
the trend of landgrabbing and debates over
governance of the world food system.
Jean Ziegler, Vice-President of the UN Human
Rights Council’s Advisory Committee, believes
the Watch “givesavoicetothemillionsof
Just as hunger has many different faces the
struggle for the right to food has numer-
ous dimensions. As Olivier de Schutter, the
UN Special Rapporteur for the Right to Food
The right to adequate food
ment”.--General Comment No. 12 of the Commit-
tee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (1999).
In collaboration with others, FIAN engages to
intervene in decision-making processes that affect
peoples’ realization of their right to food. To do so
it strives to influence powerful actors and educate
communities and individuals about their rights. In
drawing international attention to violations of these
rights FIAN aims to protect, encourage and contri-
bute to the efforts of those claiming their right to food.
The case stories in this booklet highlight the
diversity of the violations, which range from being
denied access to a safe and clean source of water;
via the eviction from traditional lands to make way
for mining companies; to the failure of governments
to implement social security programs and enforce
legislation that prevents landgrabbing.
These cases also illustrate that those most affected
by hunger and malnutrition are often the most vul-
nerable. They face higher risks of oppression due
to their marginalization on the basis of ethnicity,
health, gender or age. to marginalization on the
basis of ethnicity, health, gender or age.
Governments in the global North and South,
supranational organizations including the World
Bank and private companies are among those who
frequently violate the right to food. Many of these
violations stem from systemic injustices perpetu-
ated by unfair land, trade and investment policies.
The combined efforts of those whose rights are
violated and supporting organisations like FIAN
have contributed to the advancement or suc-
cessful resolution of cases. Yet, even when a court
rules in favour of the people or a long awaited
policy is finally adopted, close monitoring of the
proper implementation of the right to adequate
food is needed - until having daily food and living
in dignity has turned from a dream into reality.
The Guarani-Kaiowá, an indigenous people of
Mato Grosso do Sul in Brazil, endure health and
social ills including malnutrition, alcoholism and
even youth suicide. These preventable tragedies
are the consequence of eviction from traditional
lands to make way for agrofuel monocultures
including sugar cane and ethanol.
Among the first victims of violations against the
right to food are children. Between 2005 and
2008, 34 indigenous children under five died
of nutrition-related causes in the Mato Grosso
do Sul, while another 600 were identified as
Meanwhile the Brazilian government has been
negligent in enforcing the demarcation of
indigenous lands in response to constitutional
provisions that protect the Guaranis’ rights to land
and natural resources. This process is a vital formal
step in the communities’ legal battle to reclaim
their land. Plantation owners have resisted the
mapping of the sites by anthropologists, threaten-
ing physical harm and lawsuits.
FIAN has supported the struggle of the Guarani
for many years in a wide variety of ways. European
FIAN sections cooperated on the case of the
Guarani-Kaiowá in a three-year long campaign
to raise awareness of their struggle. During this
time, a delegation of the Guarani-Kaiowá travelled
through Germany, Sweden, Norway and Belgium.
Local FIAN volunteers welcomed the delegation,
facilitated public appearances and media cover-
age and expressed solidarity. A film crew travelled
to Brazil to make a documentary showing to a
wider audience the dire living conditions expe-
rienced by the Guaraní and the abuses carried
out by the agribusiness transnational companies
managing the plantations.
Only unrestricted access to their ancestral territory
will satisfy the Guarani-Kaiowà’s right to adequate
food.“Thisisourfoodbasket”, says community
leader Carlitos of Paso Pirajú as he points to the
Fuel vs. food – spreading the word of the indigenous Guaraní-Kaiowa
How goldmining can destroy access to water and violate indigenous rights
In Guatemala the Marlin Gold Mine has a
profoundly negative effect on local indigenous
communities’ access to food and water. The mining
activities use massive amounts of water and con-
taminate remaining reserves. Toxic levels of heavy
metal have been identified in samples of blood and
urine of members of the local population.
Community consultations in 2005 revealed
that more than 90 per cent of the population in
Sipacapa rejected the Marlin Mining project. In
2010 the United Nations Special Rapporteur for
Indigenous People, James Anaya, and an expert
committee from the International Labour Organi-
zation declared that the government had granted
the license to mine without the free and informed
consent of the affected communities.
In May 2010, the Inter-American Commission on
Human Rights granted precautionary measures in
favour of the members of 18 indigenous communi-
ties in the Guatemalan Western Highlands. These
measures include the temporary suspension of
activities of the Marlin Mine, operated by Canadian
Human rights defenders, including members of
the community, have been suppressed violently
for speaking out against the mine. A leader of the
movement opposing the mine was shot at her
home on July 7, 2010.
This brutal criminal act and others have largely
been ignored by authorities.
Since 2004, FIAN repeatedly visited the Marlin
Mine area, engaged with local authorities and
launched appeals supporting the people’s
struggle against the mine. Together with interna-
tional human rights groups and networks, FIAN
conducted joint fact finding missions, contribut-
ing to the international visibility of the case.
In concert with other European organizations FIAN
has openly questioned the policies of Scandinavian
public pension funds as shareholders of Goldcorp.
Both Norway and Sweden are bound by inter-
national human rights treaty obligations and must
ensure that State Pension Funds are not investing in
organizations involved in human rights violations.
In a report presented in August 2011 that summa-
rizes the results of a joint mission to Guatemala,
FIAN and partners ask the state of Guatemala to
implement the precautionary measures granted
by the Inter-American Commission and to pro-
tect human rights defenders from harassments
and criminalization, as well as to guarantee the
people´s human right to water.
In the Philippines many farmers do not have
access to land and are working as tenants or
share-croppers despite the existence of a public
policy for land redistribution.
The 1988 Comprehensive Agrarian Reform
Program (CARP) states that private agriculture
holdings exceeding five hectares of land should be
redistributed to landless farmers. Although share
tenancy is contrary to public policy under the
CARP, 300 coconut farmers on the 1,716-hect-
are Hacienda Matias on the Bondoc Peninsula are
employed as share-croppers. This obliges them
to give up to 70 per cent of their harvest to the
landowner, an exploitative arrangement resulting
in the impoverishment of families and the violation
of their right to food.
In 2004 the affected communities mobilized and
petitioned the Philippine State for land redistribu-
tion. In response the Department of Agrarian Re-
form commenced the land redistribution program,
issuing a Notice of Coverage to the landlord and
undertaking an initial survey of the property. The
landlord has since attempted to avoid the directive
while employing individuals to harass and evict
the peasants, causing serious injuries in one case.
Criminal charges have been filed against several
peasants, resulting in their imprisonment.
In 2004 FIAN Philippines launched community
education programs on the right to food, which
included the implementation of agrarian reform
programs. Meanwhile it continually pressed the
government at different levels to fulfill the right
to food of the petitioners. These activities were
complemented by the initiatives of local NGOs
and letter campaigns launched by FIAN Interna-
tional. FIAN also addressed the case in a parallel
report to the United Nations.
In March 2010, despite resistance from the land-
owners, nine evicted farmers were reinstated by
the government after the Department of Agrarian
Reform Adjudication Board judged their evic-
tion illegal. The survey of Hacienda Matias was
resumed. FIAN Philippines will monitor the case
until the distribution process is finalized.
The struggle for Agrarian Reform – vital for the right to food
FIAN Germany’s work in relation to cases of
landgrabbing in Cambodia demonstrates how
thorough research of violations of human rights
can attract media coverage and influence the
conduct of large companies.
Crop-land and agricultural infrastructure has be-
come attractive as an investment opportunity both
for individuals and institutions. Off-shore farming
in the wake of the food crisis and the boom in
agrofuels are important drivers behind foreign
land investment. A frequent consequence of this
activity, known as ‘landgrabbing’, is the displace-
ment of local communities.
Cambodia is a prime target for landgrabbers. For
generations farmers in this largely rural country
have maintained a traditional lifestyle growing fruit
and rice and gathering resources from forests. In
2006 bulldozers shattered the peace in the Koh
Kong Province to make way for sugar cane, depriv-
ing the local communities of the land and natural
resources essential to meet their right to food. The
Thai firm Khon Kaen Sugar Industry, a manufacturer
and distributor of sugar and molasses and a top
ethanol producer, is one of the investors.
With partners from Cambodia and Taiwan, Khon
Kaen had acquired a 90-year 19,100 ha conces-
sion in Cambodia to produce sugar destined for
the European Union.
In response to the forced eviction of villagers
in the district of Sre Ambel FIAN Germany
and other civil society organizations revealed
connections between Khon Kaen and a Ger-
man investment bank. DWS Investment, fund
manager of Deutsche Bank Group, has invested
at least 270 million Euros in companies directly
acquiring agricultural land. A minimum of three
million hectares of agricultural land is owned by
these companies in South America, Africa and
Southeast Asia. When widespread media cover-
age followed, including a prime time exposè on
German television, DWS offloaded its shares in
Khon Kaen Sugar Industry.
Say ‘no’ to landgrabbing – holding German investment fund managers accountable
Gaining access to water – postcard campaign influences Indian government
Access to safe water is an essential precondi-
tion of the right to food. For several years, the
300 inhabitants of the village Ghaneshpur in the
Rae Bareli district of the state of Uttar Pradesh,
struggled for access to safe water.
The local well, which should have provided safe
water to the villagers, was contaminated. Skin
diseases, tape worms and diarrhea commonly re-
sulted from drinking the yellowish, salty water. The
villagers had to make long treks to a nearby village
to collect water. The three-hour round trip to the
well took its toll on domestic and farm labour, as
well as the education of children.
In 2009 FIAN Norway launched a postcard
campaign demanding access to clean water for
the residents of Ghaneshpur. Hundreds of Nor-
wegian citizens participated in the ‘Blue October’
campaign for the right to water. As a part of an
international fact-finding mission to India later that
year representatives of FIAN Norway and FIAN
Uttar Pradesh personally delivered signed post-
cards to the Director of the Water Board of Uttar
Pradesh, Mr. Srivastava. He immediately ordered
testing of the water and subsequently organized
a 900-foot deep tube well, which now provides
water that is free from contaminants and can be
used for farming, cooking and drinking.
FIAN is monitoring the case to ensure that clean
water continues to be supplied by the Uttar
Pradesh Water Department.
Mr Hemraj, 70 year old agricultural labourer and
leader of the community, expressed joy. “Atlast
Peasant community succeeds before Constitutional Court
A Constitutional Court decision in favor of 123
families evicted from the rural area of Las Pavas
in the township of Buenos Aires, Colombia, is a
major victory for the peoples’ struggle for the right
Evicted by the police in 2009 at the request of two
palm-oil producing companies, the community of
Las Pavas has been fighting tirelessly since 1997
when they peacefully occupied unused land and
started farming. Without any alternative means of
subsistence, the families persisted in a year-long
struggle to formalize their possession of these lands.
The community repeatedly suffered criminalization
and harassment, including forced evictions, attacks
by paramilitary groups, and the destruction of
crops and food. In response, the families organized
to form the Buenos Aires Peasant Association
(ASOCAB) and filed complaints requesting a
reversal of the judicial decision that ordered their
eviction in 2009.
FIAN and various Colombian organizations sup-
ported the families of Las Pavas in their struggle.
FIAN initiated two Urgent Actions, asking its in-
ternational membership to write to the Colombian
President to take the necessary steps to formalize
the families’ possession of the land. In 2009 FIAN,
with other organizations, sent an Amicus Curiae
brief to the judge in charge of the case, offering
information to assist the court in deciding the
Finally, in May 2011, the Colombian Constitu-
tional Court found that the actions leading to
the forcible eviction of the families of Las Pavas
had been illegal, and ordered a reassessment
of the question of land possession. Provided the
reassessment is carried out legally the peasant
community will eventually be granted their right
to the land - and their means to feed themselves
will be guaranteed.
Las Pavas community leader Misael Payares
Guerrero acknowledges the role of FIAN and
other supporters: “Weneedinternationalsup-
Evictees struggle to get access to justice and land
In August 2001 the Ugandan army evicted over
2,000 people from their homes and land in the
Mubende district of Uganda. They were carrying
out the orders of the government, which had leased
the residents’ land to Kaweri Coffee Plantation, a
subsidiary of the Germany-based Neumann
Sixty-two year old Elias Mbabazi remembers. “On
the day of the eviction I was at home. Soldiers literally
stormed our land, fired some shots in the air and
drove us out. They then demolished our house,
where we had been living for 17 years. We found
shelter in the woods nearby. Our livestock ran away
and our farmland was destroyed. Two of my children
died as a consequence of this forceful eviction.”
For more than 10 years the Ugandan authorities
and Neumann Kaffee Group have obstructed ju-
dicial processes and avoided negotiations towards
an out-of-court settlement that would compensate
FIAN has supported the Mubende peoples’ strug-
gle since 2002, appealing not only to the Ugandan
State to respect its human rights obligations but
also to the extraterritorial obligations of Germany
as the home country of Neumann Kaffee Group.
FIAN activists organized attention-grabbing
street actions to apply public pressure on the
responsible actors in this case. In 2008, a ‘sym-
bolic eviction’ under the slogan “Coffee To Go”
was performed outside the Neumann offices in
Hamburg. In 2011, on the 10th anniversary of the
eviction, FIAN activists in various European cities
protested and carried out re-enactions of events
in front of Ugandan embassies.
In 2009 FIAN and the evictees filed a complaint
with the German Federal Ministry citing that
Neumann violated the OECD-Guidelines for
multinational companies. In 2011 the OECD case
was closed without resolution.
International pressure has contributed to the
resumption of court proceedings in Uganda, but
ten years after the eviction the offenders remain
exempt from punishment. Should this impunity
continue, FIAN will support the evictees in bring-
ing their case to the African Commission for
People’s and Human Rights.
Education on the right to adequate food helps HIV/AIDS affected women
HIV/AIDS is widespread in Accham in Far West-
ern Nepal. The disease is usually contracted by
male migrant workers who travel to India - a com-
mon practice, as many people own little or no land
on which to grow food. Employment opportunities
in the local area are scarce.
Once affected by the disease many families are
compelled to sell land and other assets in order to
afford medication and food. This has pushed many
households further into hunger and malnutrition.
Widows are left with the responsibility of feeding
their families without income, land or employment
opportunities. Being HIV-infected themselves, they
have to struggle with physical weakness and social
stigma. They often are rejected from their extended
family circle and deprived of their right to property.
Nutritious food and health care is vital to the effec-
tive treatment of HIV/AIDS. Yet those affected
have limited capacity to either earn money to
purchase food or to produce enough for self-
sufficiency. The State of Nepal is obliged to fulfil
the right to food of all its citizens, through means
including social security programs.
FIAN Nepal has supported local organizations in
the development of programs that aim to educate
and ‘sensitize’ affected communities about the
right to food and the special requirements of
HIV/AIDS sufferers. One outcome has been the
formation of a ‘struggle committee’. Meanwhile, in
response to pressure from FIAN and supporters,
the local government of Accham has approved
a district-level policy establishing an HIV/AIDS
Victim Food Support Fund, which has provided
affected single women 100 Nepalese Rupees
(1 Euro) per month since 2010.
Although the amount is far from sufficient, the
initiative has encouraged affected groups in
neighboring districts to advocate for a similar
policy and has triggered lobbying towards the
adoption of such a policy at the national level .