[Stop-traffic] Press Release/South Asia: 2nd SAARC People's Forum on Trafficking and Food Security

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Subject: [Stop-traffic] Press Release/South Asia: 2nd SAARC People's Forum on Trafficking and Food Security
From: Sumnima Tuladhar (cwininfo@mos.com.np)
Date: Tue Jan 09 2001 - 10:24:02 EST


The SAARC People's Forum (SPF) held its second meeting in Kathmandu
from December 18 to 21, 2000 for deliberations on the theme of
`Security of Livelihood, Security of Movement'. The SPF, organized by
RESISTANCE and SANFEC, two networks of peoples' movements of South
Asia, saw the participation of voluntary organizations and grassroots
workers from Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
Despite efforts, Maldives and Bhutan went unrepresentative.

At the end of the conference, the SPF adopted the "Mukti Paani
Declaration"' in which it emphatically expressed its collective
determination and commitment to defend three fundamental rights: The
Right to Livelihood; the Right to Movement and Personal Security; and
the Right to Self-determination. Serious concern was voiced at the
way in which globalization has led to an increase in violence,
exploitation, militarisation and destruction of livelihoods and
communities in South Asia. The SPF criticised the consolidation of
power exercised by multi-national corporations (MNCs) through Bretton
Woods institutions like the WTO, World Bank and IMF.

The SPF called for a moratorium on the production, import,
distribution and sale of genetically modified (GM) plants and food
products, which were threatening food security in the region. Since
biotechnology is not aimed at eradicating hunger but to increase the
profitability of companies engaged in GM research and marketing, SPF
questioned the governments' support of a questionable science which
has serious negative implications for human health, environment and
farmers' incomes.

The development of technologies like 'terminator' and the breaking
down of the plant's immunity systems are all aimed at taking control
of the food supply chain and making the resource-poor farmers
dependent upon the private companies. Along with the WTO's
trade-related intellectual property rights (TRIPs) agreement, it
restricts the farmers' right to save, trade and reuse seeds. This is

The precautionary principle must be the basis for assessing the human
health effects of GM foods. Where human health and safety is
concerned, mere 'risk assessment' is not acceptable. All this
otherwise will lead to genetic pollution. The SPF felt that
governments must hold genetic modification companies responsible for
the costs their products create by way of environmental pollution and
genetic modifications.

The Declaration stated that the impact of globalization was to "make
our body and soul into commodities in the market''. Women and
children bore the brunt of the resultant exploitation and violence.
"The issue of trafficking of persons is integrally linked to
insecurity of livelihood as a result of the globalization process
which also intensifies disparities and discrimination against women,
girls and marginalized communities.'' It was emphasized that
"trafficking is a particularly violent and negative outcome of
migration as its results in a violation of several human rights''.

The SPF expressed serious apprehensions about the proposed US Bill on
Trafficking, which would further victimise affected women and
persons, besides being a covert anti-immigration policy targeted at
developing countries.

The SPF pointed out that international instruments, particularly the
Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), the Convention against
Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and
the Beijing Platform For Action (PFA), were either not totally
ratified by some countries or were not implemented. SPF urged
governments of SAARC countries to bring their national policies in
line with these international conventions.

In particular, participants at the second SPF demanded that the
pending SAARC Convention to combat trafficking be signed without
delay, incorporating the changes suggested by women's groups and
human rights organizations. These suggestions include broadening the
definition of trafficking, the title of the convention and ensuring a
commitment from member countries on repatriation and reintegration of
trafficked persons. Further, given the present uncertainty over the
holding of a SAARC summit, the SPF stated that even if the Convention
was signed at the SAARC Secretariat level it must later be ratified
formally by the governments of member countries.

Finally, the SPF demanded that the 11th SAARC Summit be held
immediately. "We reiterate that the excuse given for not holding the
11th SAARC Summit is against the SAARC Charter and therefore such
excuses are not congenial for the spirit of cooperation and are
against the interests of the people of the region.''


21 December 2000

On behalf of the SAARC Peoples' Forum

Alliance Against Trafficking In Women and Children in Nepal (AATWIN)

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