October 2023 has seen staff members from Focus on the Global South taking part in several international events, contributing to and engaging in important dialogues.

#CFS51 Plenary Session at FAO, Rome (24-27 October 2023)

The 51st meeting of the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) commenced with statements by numerous Member States in the opening plenary on the ongoing food crisis and the humanitarian disaster unfolding in Palestine, but without agreement on coordinated global policy responses to both. Member States adopted the Multi Year Programme of Action (MYPOW) and policy recommendations from two recently concluded negotiation processes on gender equality and women’s and girls’ empowerment (GEWE) and collection and use of data for food security and nutrition (Data) respectively. Shalmali Guttal from Focus joined the delegation of the Civil Society and Indigenous Peoples’ Mechanism (CSIPM) and made presentations in side events on Human Rights based Food Governance and Fair Food Prices. In both events she presented findings from recent reports by the International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food Systems (IPES-Food), CSIPM and Focus’ own research.

The CSIPM GEWE and Data working groups made strong interventions in plenary about the GEWE and Data policy recommendations. Despite urging by many Member States, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food Michael Fakhri and CSIPM, the final session of the CFS 51 failed to adopt language on preventing the weaponization of food with particular reference to the situation in Gaza. However, CSIPM made a powerful closing statement calling attention to the obligation of all Member States in the CFS to prevent hunger and malnutrition and ensure that food is never used as a weapon.

Binding Treaty Negotiations at the UN, Geneva (23-27 October 2023)

Representing Focus and as an integral part of the Global Campaign to Reclaim Peoples Sovereignty, Dismantle Corporate Power, and Stop Impunity, Joseph Purugganan participated in these transformative negotiations. The Global Campaign issued a statement spotlighting the unveiled connections between transnational corporate impunity and imperialism.

Aside from our engagement in the 9th session of the working group, the delegation of the Asia Task Force held meetings with the Permanent Missions of the Philippines, Indonesia, Pakistan and Vietnam to discuss our positions on the key issues and encourage their continued engagement in the process. These 4 countries provided the crucial affirmative votes from Asia (with China and India) to UNHRC Resolution 26/9 that provided the mandate for the negotiations towards a legally binding treaty to hold transnational corporations accountable for human rights violations. 

Read the full report from Geneva here.

Asia-Pacific Regional Dialogue for Human Rights 75, Bangkok (11 October 2023)

The Asia-Pacific Regional Dialogue, a precursor to the December High-Level Event in Geneva, convened with the purpose of crafting contributions for the High Commissioner’s Vision Statement for Human Rights and the anticipated 2024 Summit of the Future. From Focus, both Anusha Lall and Galileo de Guzman Castillo marked their presence. Focus shared inputs regarding key concerns and towards a human rights architecture and mechanisms for the region going forward. A recording of the event and written record of the submissions will be made available shortly on the UN OHCHR website. The detailed intervention is also shared here.

Global Thematic Social Forum (TSF) on Mining and the Extractive Economy, Semarang (17-20 October 2023)

The TSF-Mining 2023 saw a diverse confluence of participants from different corners of the world, including Indigenous Peoples, mining-affected communities, small-scale food providers, workers and unions, faith-based groups, LGBTQIA+ and women’s movements, civil society and various peoples’ organizations resisting mining and extractivism. As building blocks to strengthen its international solidarity and advocacy, the main themes of the TSF-Mining 2023 involved the “Right to Say No” and the “Nexus of Climate Justice, Just Transition and Extractives,” as well as the sub-themes on ecofeminism, the rights of nature and alternative cosmovisions, defending environmental, women, and human rights defenders (E/W/HRDs), false solutions and the green and blue economy, and the campaign for a UN Legally Binding Instrument, among others. Galileo de Guzman Castillo represented Focus at this gathering, in which a Workshop on Global Trade, Supply Chains, and Transition Minerals was also co-convened together with Transnational Institute (TNI), Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations (SOMO), Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (APWLD), Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA), Bilaterals.org, Sahita Institute (Hints), Solidaritas Perempuan, and Indonesia for Global Justice (IGJ).

Key takeaways from the TSF-Mining 2023 include: 1) the need to contest the capitalist and corporate narratives of “progress,” “modernization,” and “just transition,” underscoring the fact that the current planetary emergency arose from centuries of capitalist extractivism to the benefit of the rich and elites; 2) the emphasis that extractivism does not only pertain to mining but is an entire model based on the exploitation of nature, people, and other living beings, and that it comes in different names and engender different kinds of suffering; 3) the deceptions and distractions of extractivism, green capitalism, and false solutions to the climate crisis versus the vibrancy of peoples’ movements and the spirit of resilience and resistance of affected communities, with empowered and united peoples at the center of the decision-making; 4) the strategies, solutions, and alternatives to oppose extractivist aggression, ecological imperialism, and injustices attendant to these come from below, strengthened by the assemblies, convergences, and solidarities of peoples overcoming barriers and reclaiming their dignity.