Wikileaks: Rome agencies on voluntary "code of conduct" for responsible agro-investments

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
10UNROME9 2010-01-28 10:32 2011-08-26 00:00 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY UN Rome
 
Original_wl_hour_glass_small
PP RUEHRNVZCZCXRO0206
DE RUEHRN #0009/01 0281032
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P R 281032Z JAN 10
FM USMISSION UN ROME
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1265
INFO RUEHC/USAID WASHDC
RUEHRC/USDA FAS WASHDC
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHINGTON DC
RHEHAAA/NSC WASHINGTON DC
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 0463
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS 0297
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 0359
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO 0137
RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA 0039
RUEHRN/USMISSION UN ROME 1342
 
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 UN ROME 000009 
 
SENSITIVE 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: EAGR EAID ECON EINV PREL FAO
SUBJECT: ROME AGENCIES WORKING ON VOLUNTARY "CODE OF CONDUCT" FOR 
RESPONSIBLE AGRO-INVESTMENTS 
 
REF: ADDIS 350; 09 ADDIS 2900 
 
¶1.  (U) This message is sensitive but unclassified.  Not for 
dissemination outside the USG. 
 
 
----------- 
 
Summary and Action Request 
 
----------- 
 
 
 
¶2. (SBU) FAO senior staff are leading an effort, in close 
coordination with UNCTAD, the World Bank, IFAD, and others, to 
address issues related to international investment in 
agricultural land (often referred to prejoratively as "land 
grabs" in the international media).  Continuing work discussed 
at last September's UN General Assembly, FAO and its partner 
organizations are researching large international land 
investments, are developing a "knowledge platform" to provide 
public access to information, and are developing a draft 
voluntary "code of conduct" for responsible international land 
investment.  On January 19, the officer at FAO leading the 
effort, David Hallam, briefed Mission staff on his work, which 
is closely linked with other FAO work to develop "voluntary 
guidelines" on responsible governance of tenure of land and 
other natural resources (septel).  The group, funded in part by 
Japan, is preparing a joint statement on its draft "code" and is 
looking for an appropriate venue to brief the international 
community.  The obvious challenge, Hallam conveyed, is to make a 
code "operational" at country level.  Mission believes a 
symposium in Rome on land investments would be useful to ensure 
that whatever products or outcomes are developed remain fully 
consistent with the country-led principle; help developing 
countries attract, assess, and negotiate potential land 
investments; and complement U.S. work in the food security 
field.  We are working with the Japanese mission to co-host an 
event in late March/early April, intended to foster developing 
country input on this issue.  Post appreciates inter-agency 
views on how to promote USG policy toward this issue, and how 
our proposed Rome symposium can best support U.S. policy 
objectives.  End summary. 
 
 
 
----------- 
 
Background 
 
----------- 
 
 
 
¶3. (SBU) During the food price crisis in 2008-09, a number of 
international investors initiated or concluded deals to lease or 
purchase large tracts of land in developing countries, 
particularly in Africa.  Largely from net food importing 
countries such as China, South Korea, and the Gulf States, these 
investors triggered accusations of "land grabbing" - including 
charges of exploitation of small holder farmers that were not 
politically connected in developing countries (reftel). 
Stressing concerns about perceived "neocolonialism," the FAO DG 
asked Hallam, FAO's Deputy Director for Trade and Markets, to 
lead FAO's work on this issue.  A UK-trained economist and 
econometrician, Hallam has approached his assignment in a 
methodical, research-driven manner and has sought to downplay 
inflammatory language bantered about in the press. 
 
 
 
----------- 
 
Few Resources at FAO Dedicated to International Land Investments 
 
----------- 
 
 
 
¶4. (SBU) Within FAO, Hallam leads a small interdepartmental 
working group with four active participants.  Hallam collects 
and controls sources of funding in Rome and at the field level 
 
UN ROME 00000009  002 OF 003 
 
 
(e.g. Cairo, Accra) to conduct research on investments, 
primarily focused on Africa.  For this and related work, Japan 
recently provided FAO with USD 3 million in voluntary 
contributions. 
 
 
 
----------- 
 
FAO, WB, UNCTAD and IFAD Working Closely 
 
----------- 
 
 
 
¶5.  (SBU) Hallam reported that he works closely with expert 
staff of the World Bank, UNCTAD, and IFAD on the land investment 
issue.  The World Bank, he said, has plenty of resources, but is 
maintaining a low profile for "political" reasons.  Together, 
FAO, UNCTAD, World Bank, and IFAD agreed to produce a joint 
research paper on international land investments, to develop a 
publicly-accessible "knowledge platform" with information on 
land investments, and to create a "Code of Conduct" on 
international land investments.  Acknowledging the lack of 
accurate, detailed land investment research, FAO and the World 
Bank are preparing several country case studies focused on 
international land investments. 
 
 
 
------- 
 
IDLO Participation 
 
-------- 
 
 
 
¶6.  (SBU) Mission staff strongly encouraged Hallam to 
collaborate with the Rome-based International Development Law 
Organization (IDLO), as it is already working to strengthen 
national legal and investment frameworks within developing 
countries.  Hallam agreed, noting that he and his colleagues 
were already in contact with IDLO as well as with Transparency 
International and the Organization of Economic Cooperation and 
Development (OECD) in Paris.  IDLO had much experience to offer 
on legal aspects of agricultural land investments and is 
currently developing a food security law initiative that will 
include a strategy for assisting legal professionals in 
developing countries to negotiate agreements with safeguards. 
 
 
 
----------- 
 
Next Steps 
 
----------- 
 
 
 
¶7.  (SBU) Hallam recognized that the value of any land 
investment "code of conduct" will accrue if complemented by 
thoughtful adaptation at the country level, especially through 
wide consultation with civil society and impacted groups. 
Hallam agreed with Mission staff that major international land 
investments should be factored into food security country 
planning in a holistic manner, and should be as transparent as 
possible to minimize corruption and exploitation.  FAO staff are 
also debating when and where to further brief interested 
parties, and are considering an April UNCTAD conference on 
investments or a May OECD agriculture trade meeting.  Also, as 
part of its agreement with the Government of Japan, Hallam will 
brief at a March 10-11 FAO seminar in Tokyo, directed largely at 
a domestic Japanese audience. 
 
 
 
----------- 
 
Making a Code of Conduct "Operational" 
 
 
UN ROME 00000009  003 OF 003 
 
 
----------- 
 
 
 
¶8.  (SBU) Mission is discussing with the Japanese Mission to the 
UN Food Agencies in Rome how to address the land investment 
issue in a manner that promotes country-led food security 
strategies and provides practical resources that help developing 
countries attract, assess, and negotiate potential land 
investments.  To this end, we are looking to co-host with Japan 
an expert symposium in Rome in late-March/early-April attended 
by experts from the four main agencies cited above, IDLO, 
Rome-based diplomats from developing countries and technical 
experts from capitals, and key Non-Governmental Organizations 
focused on international investments and agriculture 
development.  The primary goals of such an event will be to help 
steer the general debate toward adoption of land investment 
"principles," versus an operational "code of conduct," and, to 
foster early feedback and input from developing countries on 
what related tools are most beneficial to them for their country 
food security planning. 
COUSIN
Original source: Wikileaks
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