Food Security

SouthViews No. 239, 30 June 2022

Farmers, Seeds & the Laws: Importing the Chilling Effect Doctrine

By Saurav Ghimire

As an increasing number of countries are formulating Plant Variety Protection (PVP) laws, a growing number of farmers are affected by plant breeders’ rights. In addition, the seed certification law also affects farmers’ relations with seeds. Discussing the farmers’ interaction with the PVP law and seed certification law in Indonesia, this article establishes that the farmers have internalised the law beyond the scope of the legal text, such that they self-limit breeding, saving, and exchanging of seeds even in legally permissible situations. Based on the chilling effect doctrine, this article argues that the related laws should be relaxed to ensure that they do not over deter farmers from exercising their rights. This article calls for both negative and positive state obligations to address the chilling effect on farmers arising from both state and private actors.

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Policy Brief 105, October 2021

The International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture: Saving, Sharing and Taking Care of the Plants and Seeds that Feed the World

By Dr. Kent Nnadozie

This Policy Brief provides an introduction to the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture and its contribution to conserve, sustainably use and fairly and equitably share the benefits of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture, for sustainable agriculture and food security. The brief also provides an update on the involvement of the ITPGRFA in the prevailing issues under discussion in various biodiversity-related fora, including ongoing negotiations for a Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework, and response to the COVID-19 global pandemic.

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Research Paper 139, October 2021

Governing Seed for Food Production: The International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture

By Nina Isabella Moeller

Plant genetic resources for food and agriculture (PGRFA) are part of the foundation of agriculture and of central importance to food sovereignty. These gain an increasingly pivotal role in the context of climate crises, which are threatening predictable crop production, and the erosion of agricultural biodiversity. The main instrument for the governance of PGRFA is the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture. Strengthening the Treaty is crucial. The Treaty establishes a binding international framework for the conservation and sustainable use of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture, and the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising from their use. Since 2013, negotiations have been underway to enhance the functioning of the Multilateral System of Access and Benefit-sharing. Current informal consultations may pave the way for constructive negotiations at the next Governing Body meeting in May 2022.

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Submission on UNCESCR Draft, July 2021

Written Contribution to the United Nations Committee on the Economic, Social and Cultural Rights Draft General Comment on Land and Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

As mentioned by the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR), the purpose of the general comment is to clarify the specific obligations of States parties relating to land and the governance of tenure of land under the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR). In line with such an objective, the South Centre is keen to submit the following written contribution to the draft general comment on Land and Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (draft general comment). It will consider some of the concerns that developing countries have raised in relation to their development realities and needs, mainly arising from the challenges they face due to the current COVID-19 pandemic crisis and the need for a fair and inclusive recovery.

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SouthViews No. 221, 6 July 2021

South-South and Triangular Cooperation: lessons from partnership between Argentina and Mozambique

By Federico Villegas

This article reviews some fruitful South-South and Triangular Cooperation (SSTrC) initiatives between Argentina and Mozambique. The initiatives received political support from both countries and showed that the relationship between South-South Cooperation and Triangular Cooperation can be mutually reinforcing. SSTrC may channel financial resources from development partners to projects and initiatives that can produce highly effective development results.

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Submission on UPOV Circular E-20/246, February 2021

South Centre Contribution in response to UPOV Circular E-20/246

The South Centre, as an intergovernmental observer to the UPOV Council, submits this contribution on views on the implementation of the exception of acts done privately and for non-commercial purposes in relation to smallholder farmers. The South Centre appreciates this opportunity to inform the possible development of guidance regarding the implementation of the exception of acts done privately and for non-commercial purposes in relation to smallholder farmers.

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Research Paper 123, November 2020

The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas: One Step Forward in the Promotion of Human Rights for the Most Vulnerable  

By Maria Natalia Pacheco Rodriguez and Luis Fernando Rosales Lozada

Peasants and other people living rural areas are among the most vulnerable in the world. In 2015, an estimated of 736 million people in the world lived in extreme poverty, of which 589 million – 80 per cent – live in rural areas. Despite increasing urbanization in the last decades, almost 45 per cent of the global population still lives in areas defined as rural, and most of them are among the poorest of the world. The situation is most likely worsening because of the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2018, the United Nations (UN) General Assembly, adopted the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas by the supporting vote of a vast majority of countries. There are many reasons to consider the Declaration as one of the most relevant actions in the realm of human rights law taken by the United Nations in recent years. Some of them are the recognition of peasants as specific subjects of rights; the reaffirmation of existing standards tailored for the reality of people living in rural areas; and the development of international law to address existing gaps in the protection of their rights in complex subject matters such as the right to land, the right to seeds, and the right to means of production. In underscoring the importance of the Declaration for the world, this research paper narrates the process of construction of the Declaration, its contributions to international human rights law and stresses on its potential for poverty reduction and food security, in line with the sustainable development goals (SDGs) and the strategies of the UN Decade on Family Farming.

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Policy Brief 77, May 2020

COVID-19 and WTO: Debunking Developed Countries’ Narratives on Trade Measures

By Aileen Kwa, Fernando Rosales and Peter Lunenborg

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, developing countries at the World Trade Organization (WTO) are faced with demands to i) permanently liberalize their markets in health products, and also in agriculture; ii) ban export restrictions in agriculture; and iii) conclude new digital trade rules including liberalizing online payment systems, and agreeing to free data flows. There seems to be a confusion between short-term and long-term responses. For the short-term, governments must take measures needed to address the crisis, including liberalizing needed health products. However, permanently bringing tariffs to zero for the health and agricultural sectors will not support developing countries to build domestic industries. Export restrictions in agriculture cannot be given up. They can be a very important tool for stabilizing domestic prices and for food security. New digital trade rules at the WTO would foreclose the possibility for countries to impose data sovereignty regulations, including data localization requirements that can support their infant digital platforms and industries.

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SC Working Lunch, November 2018

Title:                              Working Lunch on Agriculture (Export competition)

Date and Time:             Friday, 9th November 2018, 13:00-15:00

Venue:                           South Centre, Geneva

Organizer:                     The South Centre

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WTO Public Forum, October 2018

Title:              WTO Rules for Ensuring Sustainable Agriculture and  Food Security: An SDG Compatibility Analysis

Date:              3 October 2018

Venue:           The World Trade Organization, Geneva

Organizer:     Third World Network (TWN) India, Bangladesh Krishok Federation, More and Better Network 

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Analytical Note, July 2017

The WTO’s Fisheries Subsidies Negotiations

Attempts are made to revitalise the fisheries subsidies negotiations at the WTO with the aim of achieving an outcome at the 11th WTO Ministerial Conference in December 2017.

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