Olivier De Schutter, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, is the author of a report presented on October 20, 2010 to the United Nations General Assembly, which perfectly illustrates the socialist ideology that is all too prevalent amongst United Nations bureaucrats and its so-called ‘experts.’
The report constitutes little more than an assault on free market capitalism. It is an encomium for government-led wealth redistribution.
In his report, Mr. De Schutter blames the free market system for threatening the livelihoods of “peasants, fishers, pastoralists, and indigenous peoples.” He emphasizes “the importance of land redistribution for the realization of the right to food.”
Beyond “the realization of the right to food” itself – which was supposed to define the limit of his area of responsibility – Mr. De Schutter contends that there should also be recognition of universal human rights to “adequate housing,” a “right to work (for landless peasants),” and last, but not least, a human right to land. The right to land, he claims, includes “the right to communal property — a right of the community rather than of the individual” as “an alternative to individual property rights.”
Mr. De Schutter contends that speculation on farmland, the expansion of agrofuels production, and demographic growth in rural areas are all contributing to what he calls “global enclosures” concentrated in the hands of the few. He even blames land ownership concentration on the effect of measures intended to combat global warming that other UN experts and bureaucrats have been championing.
“Measures adopted with a view to climate change mitigation or environmental conservation, which have placed priority on technological and market-based solutions over the deconcentration of land in order to encourage more sustainable land uses,” Mr. De Schutter writes in his report, “have created further conflicts with the rights of land users.”
He demands urgent action to reverse “inequitable” distribution of land. “Land does not go to those who need it most,” Mr. De Schutter told reporters at a briefing at UN headquarters in which he discussed his report.
According to this UN ‘expert,’ capitalist notions of private property and the titling process tend to reinforce the unequal distribution of land, unfairly favoring those who have access to capital and whose ability to purchase land is greatest.
“Rather than focusing on strengthening the rights of landowners, States should encourage communal ownership systems, strengthen customary land tenure systems and reinforce tenancy laws to improve the protection of land-users,” says Mr. De Schutter.
But “communal ownership systems” – or what used to be called collective farms in the old Communist Soviet Union – may not be enough, according to Mr. De Schutter. He believes that radical programs to achieve equitable redistribution of land may be necessary where the concentration of land ownership is considered by government authorities to be so high as to cause widespread hunger. “Systematic change in land rights” is essentially his definition of ‘agrarian reform.’
The UN’s Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food advises that “[T]he best way to ensure the right to land and the right to food is precisely to democratize and to secure access to land for the benefit of smallholders. The conclusion is clear: access to land must be recognized as a critical human rights issue.”
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