MUN Academy attended CFS 44 side event: Are the voluntary guidelines on the responsible Governance of tenure (VGGTS) strengthening indigenous and community land rights?

Five years after the start of the VGGTS, the participation of indigenous and the countries that agreed to be part of the process have had different effects around the world.
Mr. Vicente from the International Council of the Indigenous mentioned the creation of a popular manual in 2015, a text accessible to the communities of Latin America and the Caribbean. He said that in Panama law 72 grants indigenous land. This country is an example of good governance because there is a consult and then an approval from indigenous people in the decision making process. Also in Colombia there is a law regarding this matter. Even if some improvements have been achieved, rural reforms, agrarian reforms, and support to small scale farmers are still necessary. Governments use violence against land owners. This does not generate impartiality and avoids the respect towards obligations regarding human rights.
Mr. Helmer Velazquez from Guatemala mentioned that 92% of the small producers in Guatemala only use 21% of the fertile land. The World Bank helped legalize indigenous land in the past but then this land started being sold and bought without taking into consideration indigenous rights to land. 40% of the production is for coffee and sugar. In the north, the state burns farmer lands and indigenous lands. There are 1377 conflicts regarding land, these involve 830000 acres and one million people. Because there is no agricultural law, farmer movements and entrepreneurs are always facing problems against each other. The possible tools to understand land ownership are ancestral ownership of land from the time of the Spanish kings and the help of the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights.

Mr. Fabio Teixeira Pitta from Brazil talked about the Cerrado region in Brazil. Until 1988 this area was owned by peasants, indigenous and slaves. They used to hunt, harvest, and herd cattle. Now people who live there are part of the cheap labor force, the rich water springs of the territory are now dry rivers, and the plateaus, high and low lands, have been deforested to grow soybeans. There has been a shift in the investment because lands have been occupied, often without production. Land has become a costly financial asset in the capital market.

The last speaker was Roseno from INCRA in Brazil. INCRA has 30 offices and it is responsible of land reforms and the management of public land. They especially focus on QUILOMBOAS who were African Brazilian slaves. The POMARIS Cultural Foundation recognizes areas as indigenous and then INCRA determines the land boundaries. 3018 communities have been recognized by POMARIS, INCRA is focusing on 1692 processes, and it recognized 248 territories.

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