Asia alone constitutes 55% of the global poverty. Of which, 76% are living in rural areas (IFAD, 2016). For the rural communities, land is not just an economic commodity but a necessary instrument of equity for the poor. Without land tenure security, communities may be easily displaced and forcibly evicted, losing their sources of food, livelihood, and shelter. Hence, secure land tenure lies at the core of people’s land rights.
While the Post-2015 Agenda accompanied by the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is at hand, it is critical to realize access to land and agrarian reform in achieving three related SDGs on (Goal 1) ending poverty in all forms; (Goal2) attaining zero hunger; and (Goal 16) promoting peace, justice, and strong institutions.
On 24-25 November 2016, around 70 representatives from CSOs and national human rights institutions, and regional institutions in eight Asian countries (Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Nepal, Philippines, and Vietnam) participated in the regional workshop on Land as Human Rights: An Imperative towards the Realization of the Sustainable Development Goals in Phnom Penh, Cambodia to:
- provide a status of the road map and/or the implementation of SDG goals 1, 2 and 16 in Asia;
- present and discuss the land governance challenges in Asia;
- present and discuss the two sub-regional approach papers on linking land as human rights; and,
- formulate a regional agenda to pursue responsible land governance and recognizing land as human rights towards contributing to the achievement of SDGs.
Main challenge identified is the weakness in land governance attributed to the adverse effects of corporate investments and development projects resulting to community evictions, displacements, violation of women’s and indigenous people’s land rights, increasing out-migration, and abuse by creditors; which then leads to social, political, and economic conflicts.
In pursuing the campaign on land right as a human right, this initiative will be mainstreamed in the global level through the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights; in the regional level through regional organizations and commissions such as the Southeast Asia National Human Rights Institutions Forum (SEANF), ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR), and South Asia Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC); in the national level through national human rights institutions; and in the community level through tools and data indicators.
To achieve tenure security, land rights advocates will be influencing the SDGs through capacity building, advocacy activities, and networking using evidence-based approach, multi-sectoral partnerships, and collective advocacy.
This workshop was organized by Asian NGO Coalition for Agrarian Reform and Rural Development (ANGOC), International Land Coalition (ILC-Asia), Land Watch Asia (LWA) and STAR Kampuchea (SK), in partnership with Forum Syd, HEKS/EPER-Cambodia and United Nations Cambodia Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNCOHCHR).
The summary report is being prepared and will be posted in the ANGOC website.