Court for Food Sovereignty

Court for Food Sovereignty

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By Cristiano Morsolin

Trial against the World Bank and the Bid for their Social and Ecological Debt with the Countries and Peoples of Latin America. Presentation of the Court, final verdict and presentation of the Brazilian case on the destructive policies of the World Bank in Rural Areas.

On Tuesday, July 27, 2004, the Court for Food Sovereignty of Judging the World Bank and the IDB was held, during the Social Forum of the Americas in Quito. Along with other personalities, the Nobel Peace Prize winner Adolfo Pérez Esquivel participated as a judge; while among the accusatory testimonies the presence of the Italian deputy Francesco Martone (European Greens) stood out. In the end, the verdict was guilty of the World Bank and the Inter-American Bank and of co-responsibility of the local governments.

In Quito, the book "NO MORE SAQUE y DESTRUCCIÓN! - We, the Peoples of the South, are Ecological Creditors" was also presented - Abya Yala Edition, Ecological Action, Institute of Ecological Studies of the Third World, APSADE.

Here below you can find the presentation of the Court, the final verdict and the presentation of the Brazilian case on the destructive policies of the World Bank in Rural Areas.

To conclude, I want to highlight the organization of Aurora Danoso, Ivonne Yánez, Esperanza Martinez (Alliance of Southern Peoples Creditors of Ecological Debt) for having organized this important event that represents a significant contribution to the strengthening of the struggles of the Peoples of Latin America and of the South of the World with the conscience of being creditors of the ecological and social debt.

Court Presentation

How much do the WB and the IDB owe us for promoting a production model based on the use of pesticides and GMOs?

What have been the strategies to impose these technologies on us?

What are the social, environmental and cultural impacts of these imposed agricultural technologies?

What damage have they caused to indigenous peoples and peasant communities?

Who are the green debtors and creditors?

What are the demands and proposals?

Answers to these and other concerns will be debated in the Food Sovereignty Court.

We are not debtors, we are creditors.

To assume creditors of the ecological debt is another argument to strengthen the processes of struggle that are being given by social movements, mainly indigenous and peasants in Latin America.

Adolfo Pérez Esquivel, Argentina, New Peace Prize. Alberto Anrango, Defender of the Indigenous Peoples of Ecuador. Cléa Carpi da Rocha, Brazil, President of the American Association of Jurists. José Augusto Padua, Brazil, Alliance of the Peoples of the South Creditors of Ecological Debt. Luis Macas, Ecuador, Indigenous Movement of Ecuador. María Elena Rozas, Chile, Coordinator of Rapal in Latin America. Nemesia Achacollo, National Federation of Peasant Women of Bolivia, Bartolina Siza.

Accusations to the World Bank and the IDB:

The Destructive Policy Of The World Bank For Agrarian Reform In Brazil.
The World Bank's policies for rural areas follow the logic of the neoliberal model. Its main principles are the privatization of land and natural resources, the implementation of the "land market" and the integration of peasants into agribusiness, favoring agricultural policies aimed at export monocultures. The main consequences of this model are the weakening of the functions of the State and social organizations, the indebtedness of workers, environmental destruction and the control of territory and natural resources by large companies. (Marcelo Resende, Brazil. Geographer. He is currently an advisor to Vía Campesina, ABRA (Brazilian Association for Agrarian Reform) and the Social Network of Justice and Human Rights.)

The World Bank and the IDB and The Monocultures of Transgenic Soy in Argentina.
Argentina, a country that was known as the "Granary of the world" today produces soybean oil and cattle feed for export. This activity, concentrated in no more than four multinational companies, is based on the production of genetically modified raw material with high use of agrochemicals and a sowing method that has made it possible to cross agroecological barriers; It has displaced and continues to displace local productive activities such as tambo (dairy production), fruit and vegetable belts and traditional foods such as wheat and rice.

The IDB, WB and IMF are responsible for conceiving, financing and implementing a model of industrial agricultural production, an agro-export model of merchandise that only has the purpose of paying the foreign debt. It does not matter if fragile areas are dismantled to achieve these ends or the environment is deteriorated with pesticides. (Adolfo Boy, Argentina. Agronomist Engineer. MSc (Horticulture, WSU) Rural Reflection Group - GRR, June 2004)

The ecological debt of the use of pesticides

The World Bank and the IDB have played a fundamental role in promoting the use of pesticides in agriculture. Through conditions and credits they have promoted the technological package of the Green Revolution based on monocultures, mechanization of the field and use of pesticides The use of pesticides has claimed the lives and health of our peoples, 3 million people a year are poisoned by the Pesticide use globally, according to a WHO estimate in 1990. The poisoning of land, water and air from pesticide contamination is alarming. Peoples and cultures that have disintegrated due to the incidence of monocultures in their areas and the loss of their food sovereignty. Migration is a reliable indicator that we are living in a silent war. Even more so now with the new strategy, free trade agreements. (Elsa Nivia, Colombia, Representative of Rapal.)

Public defender:
Dr. Hugo Ruiz Díaz, CADTM, Belgium.

Aurora Donoso, Ecological Action
Juan Pablo Muñoz, Terranueva.


Introduction of the international context and neoliberal strategies.
Presentation of the Tribunal
Intervention of the Judges.
Presentation of the cases by the accusing party.
Intervention of the Defender Party
Public Forum
Time for the Judges to decide based on the arguments and evidence the Verdict.
Presentation of the Verdict.

At the end of this event there will be a presentation of the publication: "Perverse Harvest"

They organize:
Via Campesina. Cloc. Alliance of Southern Peoples Creditors of Ecological Debt. American Association of Jurists. Cadtm. Central American And Amazonian Debt. Andean Strategy. Institute of Ecological Studies of the Third World. Latin American Institute of Social Research - ldis / Fes. Inter-American Platform for Human Rights. Rapal. South Jubilee. Cric. Intermon. Oxfam.

Earthless Movement. Acao Educativa-Brazil. Unafisco Sindical-Brasil. Ecological Action. Center for Economic and Social Rights-Cdes. Conaie. Confeunassc. Education Debate - Fronesis Institute. Development And Democracy. Ecuarunari. Fenacle. Phenozin. Institute of Ecuadorian Studies Iee. Jubilee 2000 Guayaquil Network. Women Transforming The Economy - Rmte. Terranueva. Amawtay Wasy Intercultural University.

Supported by Kairos, World Council of Churches, Hivos

Final verdict - From the Court for Food Sovereignty, Trial of the World Bank (WB) and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) for their Social and Ecological Debt in Agriculture with the Peoples of the Latin American Countries

The Court for Food Sovereignty and Trial of the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank for their Social and Ecological Debt in Agriculture with the Peoples and Countries of Latin America, convened by social movements, mainly indigenous and peasant, national and of the continent , and by various networks and organizations related to agricultural problems, foreign debt and social and ecological debts, met on July 27, 2004, in Quito, Ecuador, as part of the First Social Forum of the Americas.

This Court took place with the objective of judging the responsibility of the World Bank and the IDB as part of the fundamental actors in the promotion and financing of the agricultural technologies of the so-called "Green Revolution" and of Agro-Biotechnology, as well as the process concentration of land in few hands, to favor the corporate and trade needs of the countries of the North, generating serious social, environmental, cultural and economic impacts that constitute an immense social and ecological debt with the countries and peoples of Latin America.
This is an ethical-political court, not a judicial court, however, it respects rigorous argumentation and documentation, supported by the diversity of legal and ethical traditions. Based on an Accusation based on extensive documented material and testimonies presented by men and women from Latin American peoples, the Judges, as representatives of society from different countries, reached the following VERDICT:


That the World Bank and the IDB, for half a century, through influencing agricultural policies and providing financing, have been promoting the agriculture model of the Green Revolution and in recent years Agro-Biotechnology, based on monocultures, use of pesticides and industrialization of agriculture, exacerbating poverty in the countryside and destroying agricultural and wild ecosystems in the region.

That these policies and financing serve a global project, crowned by the World Trade Organization and regional and bilateral free trade agreements, which respond to the interests of transnational corporations of seeds, pesticides and biotechnology.

That this agricultural model, promoted by the World Bank and the IDB, introduces small farmers to industrial models and this leads them to debt, bankruptcy and abandon their lands.

That the agro-export model that these banks finance is a large-scale model that has resulted in the concentration of land, the dispossession of the lands of indigenous peoples and peasant communities, and internal and external migration.

That in several countries, the structural adjustment policies advocated by the World Bank and the IDB have stimulated the privatization of public and community lands, in addition to the privatization of waters and forests.

That the aggressive promotion of the structural adjustment and rural development policies of the WB and the IDB favors agricultural intensification and export-oriented production at the expense of small-scale agriculture and low external inputs, this being the main barrier to significant adoption of ecologically based integrated pest management or adoption of agroecological practices.

That despite the fact that, since the 1980s, civil society groups and communities have demanded that the World Bank suspend the financing of pesticides and promote ecologically healthy and socially just alternatives, its policies have meant the greater use of pesticides and therefore so much greater exposure to chemical pesticides that generate impacts on health, problems of environmental imbalance and loss of biodiversity.

That between 1988 and 1995 the Bank financed more than US $ 250 million in pesticide sales and that between 1993 and 1995 all the contracts signed were directly assignments to the largest pesticide companies in France, Germany, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Japan, while the farmers participating in these projects saw their health and the ecological stability of their production systems affected by using more pesticides; the Bank recognized that only 1% of the applied projects had a complete environmental assessment.

That there is enough public information that certifies that the pesticides used through the projects financed by these Banks are harmful to human health, due to their toxic characteristics, due to their carcinogenic, teratogenic effects on the nervous, neurological and reproductive system of this and of future generations. These pesticides have already been classified by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Institute for Research on Cancer (IARC), as well as by the European Union, as extremely dangerous. The World Bank and the IDB are responsible for the deterioration of the health of peoples and ecosystems because, despite knowing their effects, they continue to promote them and finance their dissemination and sale.

That the World Bank supports the establishment of activities that are harmful to the environment and local communities in many extractive activities in Latin America, such as shrimp farming in South and Central America, which produces destruction and contamination of mangroves, which makes fishing unviable. artisanal, putting at risk the food sovereignty of coastal peoples.

That the World Bank and the IDB have imposed all these policies in many cases in collusion with the governments of Latin America. These Banks put pressure on governments through economic threats, related to the payment of financial debt, so that they cannot change their policies. Governments are therefore complicit in these policies and must explain why they continue to apply them without evaluating their effects. In addition, the World Bank and the IDB maintain that they carry out consultation processes, but they are manipulated mechanisms with actors that do not have real representation of civil society.

That many independent investigations indicate that the World Bank and IDB projects have not been successful, presenting economic, social and environmental problems. However, they remain a strategic part of a megaproject that seeks to guarantee the bases for the expansion of neoliberalism.

That the World Bank is part of organizations such as the International Finance Corporation (IFC), of private capital, which invests in activities harmful to the environment and society in various countries.

That the World Bank project is opposed to the proposals and historical struggles of rural social movements for a comprehensive, deep and just agrarian reform.

That the World Bank and the IDB do not respect international conventions on the environment, labor, human rights and the rights of peoples, especially indigenous peoples.

That the World Bank and the IDB have distorted the multilateral character of their organization and are one-dimensionally responding to the hegemonic interests of the great powers and of the large multinational corporations.

That all the projects and credits of the World Bank and the IDB, with their social, environmental, cultural and economic impacts generate an immense social and ecological debt of the international financial institutions with the countries and peoples of Latin America.

That the ecological and social debt incurred by these banks greatly exceeds the external debt attributed to our countries.

For all the CONSIDERANS exposed before the Court for Food Sovereignty, unanimously, the Judges issue the following JUDGMENT:

Declare the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank responsible for the social and environmental crimes resulting from their programs and policies set forth in the indictment.

Order the World Bank and the IDB to fairly compensate the victims of these programs and loans

Force the World Bank and the IDB to immediately restore the ecosystems affected by their projects.

Order compensation to indigenous peoples and peasants for the debt in agriculture, the same that should be applied to projects of agrarian reform and transformation of agriculture, proposed by social, indigenous and peasant organizations.

Order that these programs and credits that increase social and ecological debts be withdrawn and stopped immediately.

Forcing the World Bank and the IDB not to continue promoting or financing the use of pesticides, or transgenic monocultures that have demonstrated high social and environmental impacts and that have put the food sovereignty of the peoples at risk.

The judges make the following demands on the governments of Latin America:

Demand that the governments of Latin America declare the food sovereignty of the peoples a priority and the defense of their livelihoods based on local agro-ecological productions and the internal market.

Demand that the governments declare Latin America Free of GMOs.

Demand that the governments of Latin America generate decent conditions for indigenous peoples and peasant communities based on local development to strengthen solidarity communities, based on the LOCAL production of HEALTHY, CLEAN and ACCESSIBLE food for all peoples.

Finally, the Court declares the peoples and countries of Latin America CREDITORS OF THE SOCIAL AND ECOLOGICAL DEBT and the WB and the IDB DEBTORS.

And it orders the execution of this sentence.

Given in Quito, Ecuador, on July 27, 2004

For the Judges:

Adolfo Pérez Esquivel, Argentina
Nobel Peace Prize.

The signatures of the Judges in the Verdict of the Court for Food Sovereignty and the Trial of the World Bank and the IDB for their social and ecological debt with the peoples and countries of Latin America follow.

José Augusto Padua, Brazil
Alliance of the Peoples of the South Ecological Debt Creditors.

Maria Elena Rozas, Chile
Coordinator of Rapal in Latin America.

Nemesia Achacollo, Bolivia
Federation of Rural Women Bartolina Siza.

Cléa Carpi da Rocha,
President of the Tribunal

Juan Pablo Muñoz
Secretary of the court

Signatures of representatives of organizations that join the Verdict of the Court for Food Sovereignty: Trial of the WB and the IDB for their Social and Ecological Debt in Agriculture with the Peoples and Countries of Latin America, held in Quito, Ecuador, on 27 July 2004 in the framework of the First Social Forum of the Americas.

The Destructive Policies of the World Bank in Rural Areas
Brazil Case - Marcelo Resende, Brazil. Geographer.

In several countries, the structural adjustment policies advocated by the World Bank have stimulated the privatization of public and community lands, in addition to the privatization of water and forests.

Many independent investigations indicate that World Bank projects have not been successful, presenting economic, social and environmental problems. However, they remain a strategic part of a project that seeks to guarantee the bases for the expansion of neoliberalism.

In rural areas, the Bank's main programs include the following stages:

Cadastre and georeferencing of rural properties
Privatization of public and community lands
Titling of possessions
Commodification of the agrarian reform
Land market
Integration of farmers into agribusiness

In accordance with this conception, the State ignores its obligation to promote agrarian deconcentration through the distribution of land. On the contrary, it stimulates the control of the agrarian territory by large companies.

By imposing and supervising the development policies of peripheral countries, the World Bank forces them to commit their budgets to projects that benefit large corporations. The result of this intervention is reflected in the estimated contingent of 4.8 billion people, mostly unemployed, underemployed or in the informal sector.

The so-called "agrarian reform of the market" - a denomination criticized by social movements, considering that such a model does not do justice to the term "agrarian reform" - is based on the promotion of the sale of land by the latifundistas to workers with little or no land.

The World Bank project is in contrast to the proposals and historical struggles of rural social movements for a broad and deep agrarian reform. Many rural workers, wanting to realize their dream of access to land to work, commit to loans at market interest rates, spurred on by promises of a better life. Contrary to this, a process of indebtedness occurs that subjects the peasants to disillusionment and expulsion from the acquired lands.

On the other hand, this policy generates a greater concentration of land and benefits large landowners who sell their worst areas at inflated prices, in cash. In addition, experiences show that "agrarian market reform" programs stimulate corruption and patronage practices, since they place control of the process in the hands of rural elites.

In Brazil, these programs run contrary to the legal precept that determines dispossession as the main instrument for obtaining unproductive land. The Brazilian constitution establishes that agricultural lands must fulfill their social function, that is, they must produce food and respect environmental and labor laws. If this is not the case, the government must expropriate those areas for the purposes of agrarian reform and the settlement of landless families.

By substituting expropriation due to social interests for the purchase and sale of land, the state fails to fulfill its constitutional obligation. In this way, there is no penalty to the large estate, but rather its valuation, since it is the landowners who can decide to sell their lands or not. An expansion of the land market ends up in many cases causing an increase in prices and, consequently, benefiting the large landowners.

Since 1997, during the government of Fernando Henrique Cardoso, these programs have reached 70,000 families and used close to 500 million dollars.

According to studies carried out by academics and social organizations, these programs presented the following problems:
1. Increase in the value of the land and payment in cash, as a way to reward the large estate (the existence of a Land Fund inflated the market).
2. Economic unviability, inability to pay loans and indebtedness of rural workers. The acquired areas, many of poor quality, did not meet the conditions to allow the generation of sufficient income to pay the debt.
3. Acquisition of unregistered and unproductive land, therefore suitable for the agrarian reform program.
4. The purchase of land is done through worker associations, without autonomy when choosing areas. These associations are, many times, organized by the same landowners and local politicians.
5. Precarious survival conditions and abandonment of areas. Instead of alleviating poverty, the financial situation of program participants worsened.
6.Complaints of corruption involving municipal administrations, politicians and unions, which would have been favored in the transactions of buying and selling land.
7. Environmental destruction: in many projects, the exploitation of natural resources, the production of charcoal as a means of survival and the exploitation of forest reserves, such as those of Carnaúba in the Northeast, has been confirmed.

With the start of the Lula government, the group of social actors in the countryside placed their hopes on the reversal of this process. The expectation was that agrarian reform would be at the center of the political agenda, as an important way to create jobs, guarantee food sovereignty and as the basis of a new development model.

On the contrary, we are witnessing the continuity of the World Bank's policies for rural areas. In November 2003, the Ministry of Agrarian Development announced the continuation of the Agrarian Credit to Combat Rural Poverty program, with the goal of reaching 130,000 families.

Another World Bank policy in Brazil, which aims to facilitate the implementation of the "land market", is the registration and georeferencing of the national territory, with the regularization of 2.2 million rural properties and the titling of 500,000 "posseiros" ( occupants without legal documentation). This program does away with the concept of public and community lands and can contribute to increasing the concentration of land ownership. The sale of titled areas can benefit large landowners and the so-called "grileiros" (individuals who seize foreign land through falsification of property deeds), in addition to strengthening state governments in the concession of public lands and returns to loggers and large agricultural companies. In the Amazon region and the Cerrado region, the expansion of soy monoculture is already taking place, which can be facilitated by the privatization of georeferenced areas. The project also allows the World Bank to have access to strategic data on the Brazilian agrarian fabric.

In different countries, the structural adjustment policies advocated by the World Bank have stimulated the privatization of indigenous lands, of Afro-descendants and of other rural communities, in addition to the privatization of water and forests, increasing social inequalities. The creation of land markets is seen in this broader context.

The case of Colombia is exemplary. In 1950, the World Bank recommended the incentivized migration of peasants and the formation of an agricultural sector focused on expanding the cattle herd to supply the North American market for animal protein. The main obstacle to the country's growth, according to the Bank, was the excessive number of peasants, and it suggested two ways of solving the situation: attracting peasants to the cities or expelling them through a "shock." According to the economist Héctor Mondragón, "there are no displaced people in Colombia because there is war, but there is war so that there are displaced people."

With the failure of land market policies, in 2002, the World Bank initiated the "Productive Associations" program in Colombia, with the aim of subordinating the peasants to the large corporations. The program made peasants "partners" with large landowners, providing labor for transnational companies and eliminating labor obligations.

In Mexico, the Bank's policies encouraged the destruction of ejidos - agrarian reform communities, in which the sale of land was not allowed and peasants maintained the rights acquired since the Mexican Revolution of 1917. In 1991, President Carlos Salinas announced the amendment of Article 27 of the Constitution, allowing the division of ejidos into private properties. This measure followed the logic of the "land market" and prepared the country for the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA - NAFTA).

In Guatemala, the land market was implemented in 1994, through a Land Fund financed by the World Bank. The objective was the privatization of public lands and the negotiated sale of large estates to avoid occupations and empty the demands of social movements.

In India in 1975, the World Bank's Land Reform Policy Report identified land articulation and registration as the main problems in establishing a thriving "land market." To do this, they offered a "package" that included titling, cadastral survey and registration to allow land sales transactions from "less efficient" producers to "more efficient", which in the terminology of the World Bank means " generate maximum profits ".

In Thailand, secure access to land was the argument for World Bank intervention in land policy. However, an internal evaluation by the Bank itself confirms that land tenure in the country was "relatively secure and egalitarian", based on strong social and cultural traditions, and thus the priority of a project for land development was not justified. regularization of land ownership.

In South Africa, led by the World Bank, the government launched a complex package of land market implementation measures, aiming to increase production levels and improve "investor confidence." The Bank's programs were targeted at an elite of farmers considered "efficient", with greater purchasing power. This eliminated the participation of low-income peasants, who continued to be dependent on farm wages and paternalistic social relations. This model prevented the implementation of a broad agrarian reform that had the power of social transformation.

In Zimbabwe, between 1980 and 1996, the government bought land from whites and distributed it to blacks, forming settlements. The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) encouraged the Union of White Landowners not to sell the land because they opposed the establishment of settlements. In the 1990s, the World Bank invested resources to operate in the land market, according to the individual production model of family farming. However, the agency decided to suspend these resources and, as of 1997, the government began to carry out the compulsory acquisition of land, with compensation only for the improvements.

The great similarity between the formulas applied by the World Bank and their negative impacts in various countries generated an international movement of opposition to the policy of "agrarian market reform." Many social organizations - such as Via Campesina, the Land Action and Research Network (LRAN) - began a work of articulation, with the objective of systematizing and disseminating both the complaints about the World Bank projects and the proposals built through de las experiencias de trabajadores rurales.

Como podemos observar, los proyectos del Banco Mundial se contraponen a las luchas históricas de los movimientos sociales. Es incomprensible que la responsabilidad de la formulación de políticas para el campo, incluyendo el uso y la ocupación del territorio, sea delegada a una institución financiera internacional como el Banco Mundial. Es necesario que cada país posea políticas públicas compatibles con la complejidad de las demandas históricas, de las experiencias y de las formulaciones de los movimientos sociales que luchan por la democratización de la tierra y por la soberanía.
Foro Social-América: Juicio al BID y al Banco Mundial

* Lima, 17.8.2004
Periodista y educador italiano, operador de redes internacionales.
Fundador del Observatorio Independiente sobre región Andina SELVAS –
Después varias experiencias en Italia, Ecuador, Brasil, Perú, ahora trabaja en Lima en la cooperación internacional.

Video: AFSA Alliance for Food Sovereignty for Africa Conference - Day 1 Reel (June 2022).


  1. Protesilaus

    hmm ... I was expecting MUCH MORE pictures after reading the description))) although that's enough)

  2. Talehot

    An excellent post, after reading several articles on this topic, I realized that I still did not look from the other side, but the post was somehow very interested.

  3. Jack

    Quite right! It seems to me it is good idea. I agree with you.

  4. Maujin

    I can not recollect.

  5. Rasheed


  6. Gruddieu

    I can suggest that you visit the site, which has a lot of information on this issue.

  7. Escorant

    I took it to the quotation book, thanks!

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