The UN Committee on World Food Security (CFS) officially endorsed the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Land Tenure, fisheries and forests in May 2012. The guidelines promote tenure rights and equitable access to land, fisheries, and forests as means to eradicating hunger and poverty, supporting sustainable development, and enhancing the environment. They are intended as a framework for actors to utilize when developing their strategies, policies, legislation, and programs. They are not legally binding.
A database on land deals was also published in May 2012.
Goals: (See objectives below)
1.1. These Voluntary Guidelines seek to improve governance of tenure of land fisheries and forests […] for the benefit of all, with an emphasis on vulnerable and marginalized people, with the goals of food security and progressive realization of the right to adequate food, poverty eradication, sustainable livelihoods, social stability, housing security, rural development, environmental protection and sustainable social and economic development. All programs, policies and technical assistance […] should be consistent with […] international law, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international human rights instruments.
1.2. These Guidelines seek to:
1. improve tenure governance by providing guidance and information on internationally accepted practices for […] rights to use, manage and control land, fisheries and forests.
2. contribute to […] policy, legal and organizational frameworks regulating the range of tenure rights […]
3. enhance the transparency and improve the functioning of tenure systems.
4. strengthen the capacities and operations of implementing agencies; judicial authorities; local governments; organizations of farmers and small-scale producers, of fishers, and of forest users; pastoralists; indigenous peoples and other communities; civil society; private sector; academia; and all persons concerned with tenure governance as well as to promote the cooperation between the actors mentioned.
3. Guiding principles of responsible tenure governance
3A General principles
3.1. States should:
1. Recognize and respect all legitimate tenure right holders and their rights. […] whether formally recorded or not; to refrain from infringement of tenure rights of others; […]
2. Safeguard legitimate tenure rights against threats and infringements. […] protect tenure right holders against the arbitrary loss of their tenure rights, including forced evictions […]
3. Provide access to justice to deal with infringements of legitimate tenure rights. […]
4. Prevent tenure disputes, violent conflicts and corruption. […]
3.2. […] business enterprises have a responsibility to respect human rights and legitimate tenure rights. […] should […] avoid infringing on the human rights and legitimate tenure rights of others. […] include appropriate risk management […] should provide for and cooperate in non-judicial mechanisms to provide remedy, including […] grievance mechanisms […] where they have caused or contributed to adverse impacts on human rights and legitimate tenure rights. […] identify and assess any actual or potential impacts on human rights and legitimate tenure rights in which they may be involved. States […] should provide access to effective judicial remedies […]. Where transnational corporations are involved, their home States have roles to […] to ensure that businesses are not involved in abuse of human rights and legitimate tenure rights. States should […] protect against abuses of human rights and legitimate tenure rights by business enterprises […]
3B Principles of implementation
1. Human dignity […]
2. Non-discrimination […]
3. Equity and justice: […] equitable tenure rights and access to land, fisheries and forests, for all, women and men, youth and vulnerable and traditionally marginalized people […].
4. Gender equality […]
5. Holistic and sustainable approach […]
6. Consultation and participation: engaging with and seeking the support of those who, having legitimate tenure rights, could be affected by decisions, prior to decisions being taken, and responding to their contributions; taking into consideration […] power imbalances […] and ensuring active, free, effective, meaningful and informed participation […]
7. Rule of law: adopting a rules-based approach through laws that are widely publicized in applicable languages, applicable to all, equally enforced and independently adjudicated, and that are consistent with their existing obligations under national and international law, and with due regard to voluntary commitments […]
8. Transparency […]
9. Accountability: holding individuals, public agencies and non-state actors responsible for their actions and decisions […]
10. Continuous improvement: States should improve mechanisms for monitoring and analysis of tenure governance […]
7.1. When States recognize or allocate tenure rights to land, fisheries and forests, they should establish […] safeguards to avoid infringing on or extinguishing tenure rights of others, including legitimate tenure rights that are not currently protected by law. In particular, safeguards should protect women and the vulnerable […]
8. Public land, fisheries and forests
8.1. Where States own or control land, fisheries and forests, they should determine the use […] in light of broader social, economic and environmental objectives. […] ensure that all actions are consistent with their existing obligations under national and international law, and with due regard to voluntary commitments […]
8.5. States should determine which of the land, fisheries and forests they own or control will be […] used by the public sector, and which of these will be allocated for use by others […]
9. Indigenous peoples and other communities with customary tenure systems
9.1. […] land, fisheries and forests have social, cultural, spiritual, economic, environmental and political value to indigenous peoples and other communities with customary tenure systems.
9.4. States should provide appropriate recognition and protection of the legitimate tenure rights of indigenous peoples and other communities with customary tenure systems, consistent with existing obligations under national and international law, and with due regard to voluntary commitments […]
9.5. Where indigenous peoples and other communities […] have legitimate tenure rights to the ancestral lands on which they live, States should recognize and protect these rights. Indigenous peoples and other communities with customary tenure systems should not be forcibly evicted […]
10. Informal tenure
10.5. States should […] prevent corruption, particularly through increasing transparency, holding decision-makers accountable, and ensuring that impartial decisions are delivered promptly.
12.14. States and affected parties should contribute to the effective monitoring of the implementation and impacts of agreements involving large-scale transactions in tenure rights, including acquisitions and partnership agreements. States […] enforce agreements and protect tenure and other rights and provide mechanisms whereby aggrieved parties can request such action.
12.15. When States invest or promote investments abroad, they should ensure that their conduct is consistent with the protection of legitimate tenure rights, the promotion of food security and their existing obligations under national and international law, and with due regard to voluntary commitments under applicable regional and international instruments.
[i]Food and Agriculture Organization of the united Nations . (2012). Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security. Retrieved August 27, 2013, from Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations: http://www.fao.org/docrep/016/i2801e/i2801e.pdf