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Global UN-backed guidelines for land use rules approved

The world’s governments approved new guidelines for rules on land use to protect the poor

Written by Reuters | Rome | Published: May 13, 2012 12:21:38 am

The world’s governments approved new guidelines for rules on land use on Friday to protect the poor and fight hunger,but aid groups said they were too weak to stop large-scale land grabs by big business in underdeveloped countries.

The UN-backed guidelines have been in the works for three years,driven by concerns that countries such as China and Gulf Arab states and private investors are buying land in Africa and Asia to secure resources at the expense of local people.

The voluntary code of conduct promotes equal rights for women in securing title to land and says states should ensure poor people have access to transparent record-keeping and legal help during land disputes.

“It’s a starting point that will help improve the often dire situation of the hungry and poor,” the head of the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO),Jose Graziano da Silva,said at a news conference in Rome. He said the guidelines should prompt revisions of national and international law.

Ninety six countries worked with non-governmental groups,the UN and private sector bodies to come up with the guidelines.

Talks will now begin on a separate set of principles for “responsible agricultural investment” proposed by the World Bank,FAO and other UN agencies. The principles state that potential investments should respect existing land rights and that all those materially affected should be consulted.

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