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-The Responsible Agricultural Investment (RAI) Principles being negotiated under the auspices of the CFS (Committee for World Food Security) are meant to promote responsible investment in agriculture and food systems that contribute to food security and nutrition, and support the progressive realization of the right to food. They address the core elements of what makes investment in agriculture and food systems responsible; identify who the key stakeholdersare, and their respective roles and responsibilities with respect to responsible investment in agriculture and food systems. They are meant to serve as a framework to guide the actions of all stakeholders engaged in agriculture and food systems. [cited from the text, here: http://www.fao.org/fileadmin/templates/cfs/Docs1314/rai/Endorsement/CFS_RAI_Principles_For_Endorsement_Ver_11_Aug_EN.pdf
-Since 2013 there have been 3 intergovernmental sessions to negotiate the RAI principles, involving all sectors — member states, civil society, the private sector, etc. The May negotiations were not completed due to a large number ofdisagreements about definitions, scope, roles and responsibilities, and an additional session was added for August. At this session the negotiation came close to completion but Canada objected to the text related to Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC), resulting in this text (paragraph 9iv) of the text being bracketted. This document is now intended for approval by the CFS Plenary (Oct 13), but there are the problematic brackets.
-There is lots of diplomacy underway to try to get Canada to remove its objection. The CFS governing bodies (Advisory Group and Bureau) would of course prefer to resolve the bracketed FPIC text as soon as possible, and is having discussions to resolve this. The CSM [Civil Society Mechanism] who also participates in the Advisory Group, feels there is still need the maximum outside pressure to make this happen. Even though pressure is mounting from other member states [even the US removed their objection to this language], Canada has stood alone in the past.
-In August, several organizations in Canada issued statements, wrote to Canada’s reps in Rome, and/or sent notifications to their networks in early August during the RAI negotiations. These include: Food Secure Canada, the National Farmers Union, and the Council of Canadians.
-Through the CSM, indigenous and other networks are putting pressure on Canada and go to the media in the coming 2 weeks. This is in tandem with the support and statements coming from the International Indigenous Treaty Council that is meeting in Oklahoma this week.
Mani Jorge Stanley and Taina Lady, who are indigenous reps involved in the RAI negotiations, have issued a statement that was presented to the CFS Advisory Group [see below]. Statements and support from Canadian First Nationsnetworks and others is following suite.
– Canada is now the ONLY country standing in the way of ratifying the Principles for Responsible Investment in Agriculture and Food Systems (RAI). If Canada had agreed to the text the RAI agreements would have been signed this past August. Canada’s stance puts the entire RAI negotiations in danger, goes against the views of the majority of states, and the overwhelming support within the Committee for World Food Security (CFS), and the wider international community for curbing irresponsible investment.
– The only text that has NOT been agreed on reads “[Effective and meaningful consultation with indigenous peoples, through their representative institutions in order to obtain their free, prior and informed consent under the United Nations Declaration of Rights of Indigenous Peoples and with due regard forparticular positions and understanding of individual States;] (principle 9(iv) in this document:
– This text is lifted directly from the previously-negotiated Voluntary Land Tenure Guidelines, and viewed by civil society as the MINIMUM text needed protect FPIC. FPIC is included in the UN declaration on the rights of indigenous peoples and in declarations by the UN General Assembly.
– Civil Society is wary that weakening the text here, will create precedent and weaken it in other agreements as well. This issue is a non-negotiable ‘red line’ for the CSM – and indicated to the CFS Advisory Group and Chair yesterdaythat CSM will not support the agreement in the absence of this text on FPIC.
– Ironic Factoid: The last day of negotiation was August 8th. Late into the evening, everything was bracketed/table for a subsequent meeting, only a few hours shy of The International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples celebrated every year on Aug 9th!
– Canada’s objection is clearly linked with its agenda and interests in resources domestically and internationally.
More Info on RAI: http://www.fao.org/cfs/cfs-home/resaginv/en/

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