Areas of Work

Agricultural Trade and Investment

QUNO believes that food security must be a central concern in the governance of agricultural trade, to ensure that trade policies support, rather than hinder, global efforts to meet long-term food security needs.

The relationships between food security measures and the WTO's trade rules however are extremely complex. For this reason, we are currently developing an interactive tool to help those seeking to shape policy at the national and international level – be they small-scale farmer organisations, trade negotiators or policy makers. By making it easier and quicker for users to identify the measures relevant to their particular contexts, we hope to facilitate a process of policy-making that is appropriate, coherent, and helps governments meet food security goals while maintaining compatibility with global trade rules.

Resources & Publications

June 2016

QUNO signs joint Quaker statement on TTIP

Five Quaker organisations from Europe and the United States have asked governments to say ‘no’ to the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), the controversial ‘mega’ trade deal being negotiated between the European Union and the United States.  

It is the first time that Quaker organisations, working on both sides of the Atlantic, have spoken out together against such a trade treaty.

American Friends Service Committee, Friends Committee on National Legislation, Quaker Council for European Affairs, Quaker United Nations Office and Quaker Peace & Social Witness, have sent a statement to Prime Minister David Cameron, government representatives and trade officials. They said that TTIP negotiations are prioritising the prospect of short-term economic gain over the longer-term factors necessary to human wellbeing and protection of the Earth.

The statement comes in the context of building opposition to TTIP, as controversial, confidential negotiation documents were leaked into the public domain and the French government has warned that it is considering blocking the deal.

TTIP is set to include a so-called Investor to State Dispute Settlement mechanism or Investment Court System, under which foreign companies could sue governments for introducing social, environmental, health or other legislation believed to threaten profitability.  The Quakers assert that these mechanisms hand too much power to large companies, making them “fundamentally antidemocratic in nature and therefore unacceptable”.

Read the full statement here.

Photo: GotCredit/Flickr

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April 2016

Research paper: Access to seeds: lessons from the access to medicines debate

The history and dynamics of the access to medicines debate provide a number of reflections for those concerned with protecting farmers’ access to seeds. Taking the Doha Declaration on TRIPS and Public Health as its point of departure, this paper explores implications for interested parties at the international and national levels, as well as for multilateral institutions themselves.

Three lessons stand out in particular.

  1. The process that led to the Declaration highlights the significance of global public opinion in shaping negotiations, as well as the value of combining this with pragmatic coalition-building amongst states, NGOs and the media.
  2. Domestically, national governments should make creative use of TRIPS flexibilities. This has been done to bring down the cost of medicines in numerous countries and should be emulated by governments wishing to protect farmers’ seed systems, which rely on experimentation, storage, exchange and re-use of seeds. ‘Access’ in this paper is taken to encompass these activities, rather than simply referring to the availability of new varieties developed by commercial breeders.
  3. There is an urgent need for sustained, productive collaboration between relevant multilateral institutions. Collaboration between the WHO, WTO and WIPO on access to medicines has facilitated a broader consideration of innovation. Similar engagement is necessary between the FAO, WTO, WIPO and others to clarify the complicated governance structure for plant genetic resources and ensure farmers’ continued access to seed.

Freely available for download below under Creative Commons license.

Author: 

  • Patrick Endall

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April 2016

Research paper: Access to seeds: lessons from the access to medicines debate

Access to seeds.jpg

This new research paper considers what lessons the access to medicines debate provides for those concerned with protecting farmers’ access to seeds. Taking the Doha Declaration on TRIPS and Public Health as its point of departure, this paper explores implications for interested parties at the international and national levels, as well as for multilateral institutions themselves.

Key messages include: 

1) The importance of public opinion and pragmatic coalition-building in raising the political capital to deal with sensitive negotiating topics;

2) The need for national governments to use TRIPS flexibilities in the same way that many already have for safeguarding access to medicines;

3) The urgent need for sustained, productive collaboration between relevant multilateral institutions to clarify the governance structure for plant genetic resources. By doing so they can help ensure farmers' continued freedom to experiment with, store, exchange and re-use seed - essential practices for maintaining biodiversity and achieving food security.

The paper, prepared by QUNO Programme Assistant Patrick Endall (Food & Sustainability, Climate Change) is available here, or by clicking on the link below.

All QUNO work is published under a Creative Commons license.

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February 2016

QUNO presents at international colloquium on global governance

On 4-5 February, QUNO's Food & Sustainability representative travelled to The Hague, Netherlands, to attend and present at a colloquium at the International Institute of Social Studies. Susan was among a diverse set of speakers examining the intersections between global governance and politics, climate justice and agrarian / social justice.

Her paper calls for a reinvigoration of the public sector, with a particular focus on food security, small-scale farmers and intellectual property rules.

 

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January 2016

QUNO Food & Sustainability publications now available in four languages

Three of QUNO's recent policy briefs from the Food & Sustainability programme are now available online in up to four languages. All QUNO work is published under a Creative Commons license. Copies of all QUNO publications can be downloaded free by following the links below, while hard copies are available on request to quno@quno.ch.

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January 2016

QUNO demonstrates policy tool at Global Donor Platform for Rural Development

Over the past year, QUNO has been developing an interactive tool to help shape coherent food security and trade policies. Attending the Global Donor Platform's annual event in Geneva this week gave us the opportunity to present our progress and discuss ways of taking it forward with a broad variety of grant-giving institutions.

Each year the Donor Platform for Rural Development selects what they believe will be the most relevant topic to them in the coming year. For 2016 the focus is on policy coherence between trade and rural development, a theme that resonates strongly with our Food & Sustainability work. We were therefore able to constructively intervene in sessions, while gaining a better understanding of the issues as-seen from a donor perspective.

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December 2015

Project Brief: QUNO interactive policy tool

Within our Trade and Investment in Agriculture work, QUNO has been developing an online tool to help explain the complex relationship between food security measures and the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) trade rules. These are liable to come into conflict and the aim of the tool is to help policy makers shape their policies in ways that are mutually compatible and context-appropriate.

In this project brief, Susan Bragdon, our Food & Sustainability Representative, talks through her vision of the tool and how she believes it could benefit small-scale farmer organisations, trade negotiators and policymakers in shaping effective food security measures.

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December 2015

Policy Brief: The relationship between food security policy measures and WTO trade rules

This report first provides a historical overview of both the concept of food security and the incorporation of agriculture into international trade negotiations. It then turns to the relationship between food security policy options and the WTO’s trade rules, and highlights opportunities for governments to implement policies that support food security while meeting their international obligations. It concludes by laying out a range of policy measures to enhance food security, assessing the compatibility of each with WTO regulations. 

Prepared by David Elliott, based on a full-length report by Kim Burnett, available below. 

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December 2015

Policy Brief: The relationship between food security policy measures and WTO trade rules

This report first provides a historical overview of both the concept of food security and the incorporation of agriculture into international trade negotiations. It then turns to the relationship between food security policy options and the WTO’s trade rules, and highlights opportunities for governments to implement policies that support food security while meeting their international obligations. It concludes by laying out a range of policy measures to enhance food security, assessing the compatibility of each with WTO regulations. 

Prepared by David Elliott, based on a full-length report by Kim Burnett, available below. 

Languages: 

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December 2015

Project Brief: An Interactive Trade Policy Tool

QUNO has been developing an online tool to help explain the complex relationship between food security measures and the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) trade rules. Susan Bragdon, our Food & Sustainability Representative, talks through her vision of the tool and how she believes it could benefit small-scale farmers, trade negotiators and food security.

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November 2015

The relationship between key food security measures and trade rules

The rules governing international trade in agriculture are often vague and ambiguous, requiring significant legal and administrative capacity to uncover opportunities to support food security and rural livelihoods without breaking WTO rules. This report identifies some of the measures that may be used to help advance developing countries’ food security in ways that comply with international obligations to reduce trade-distorting domestic supports and market protections.

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November 2015

New Report: The relationship between key food security measures and trade rules

The rules governing international trade in agriculture are often vague and ambiguous, requiring significant legal and administrative capacity to uncover opportunities to support food security and rural livelihoods without breaking WTO rules.

This new QUNO report, prepared by Kim Burnett (University of Waterloo), identifies some of the measures that may be used to help advance developing countries’ food security in ways that comply with international obligations to reduce trade-distorting domestic supports and market protections.

 

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August 2015

Policy Brief: Realizing the right to food in an era of climate change

Agriculture is a major contributor to anthropogenic climate change, and in turn climate change threatens the viability of food production around the world. The spread of capital- and technology-intensive 'industrial' agriculture in the modern era has been accompanied by an erosion of on-farm genetic diversity, a loss of local knowledge, and the abandonment of traditional farming practices. This undermines our capacity to
adapt to already-changing climatic conditions.

This report highlights the role of small-scale farmers as innovators and custodians of food system diversity, a critical resource in ensuring the realization of the right to food in an era of climate change. Taking an innovation systems perspective, it proposes a new framework for the design of collaborative agricultural research projects and agendas, and notes the need for pro-active policy measures in creating an enabling environment for such partnerships.

The report is available for download in English and Chinese, by clicking on the link below.

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August 2015

Realizing the right to food in an era of climate change

Agriculture is a major contributor to anthropogenic climate change, and in turn climate change threatens the viability of food production around the world. The spread of capital- and technology-intensive 'industrial' agriculture in the modern era has been accompanied by an erosion of on-farm genetic diversity, a loss of local knowledge, and the abandonment of traditional farming practices. This undermines our capacity to
adapt to already-changing climatic conditions.

This report highlights the role of small-scale farmers as innovators and custodians of food system diversity, a critical resource in ensuring the realization of the right to food in an era of climate change. Taking an innovation systems perspective, it proposes a new framework for the design of collaborative agricultural research projects and agendas, and notes the need for pro-active policy measures in creating an enabling environment for such partnerships.

The report is available for download free by clicking on the link below.

Languages: English, French, Spanish, Chinese

Author: 

  • Chelsea Smith
  • David Elliott
  • Susan H. Bragdon

Languages: 

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April 2015

QUNO hosts third expert consultation on trade and investment in agriculture

From 1-2 April 2015, QUNO held its third Expert Consultation on a New Framework for Trade and Investment in Agriculture (NFTIA) at the Château de Bossey (pictured), near Geneva. QUNO hosted 17 participants, representing academics, trade delegates, civil society representatives, small-scale farmers and UN officials, from a total of 11 different countries.

The consultation focused on how to reconcile trade rules with policies designed to safeguard food security. Building on findings that emerged from previous consultations in the series, it explored how QUNO might develop an interactive tool that would allow various stakeholders, from policymakers to farmers, to determine if a particular food security measure would be permitted under existing World Trade Organization (WTO) regulations. The tool now exists in prototype form and is currently being populated with content, with the help of the consultation participants. QUNO hopes to demonstrate its functionality and utility at WTO and Committee for World Food Security events later this year.

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March 2015

Oral Statement on the role of Small Scale Farmers and the Right to Food at the 28th session of the HRC

QUNO delivered an oral statement in the 28th session of the Human Rights Council at the Clustered Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food and the Special Rapporteur on Adequate Housing. Susan BragdonRepresentive for our Food & Sustainability programme delivered the statement in response to the report of the Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Hilal Elver.

Text and video (beginning at 00:32:57) of the statement is available below.

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January 2015

QUNO & FAO launch an online consultation on food security measures and trade

QUNO launched and moderated an online consultation on food security measures and trade, in conjunction with the FAO Global Forum on Food Security and Nutrition and the FAO Trade and Markets Division.

Entitled 'Examining the Linkages between trade and food security: What is your experience?', the consultation invited contributors to share their expertise and knowledge of these issues, in an attempt to put small-scale farmers back at the centre of the debate. It asked probing questions about the efficacy of a global market-based approach to food security, and sought to find ways of reconciling food security measures with trade rules.

The discussion ran from January to February 2015. A summary of the consultation, written by QUNO Representative for Food & Sustainability Susan H. Bragdon, is available at the below link.

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December 2014

French, Chinese and Spanish translations of our Trade Liberalization and Food Security booklet are now available!

French, Chinese and Spanish language translations of Trade Liberalization & Food Security: Examining the Linkages by Jennifer Clapp are now available. The paper is part of our project working towards a New Framework for Trade & Investment in Agriculture, in which we are exploring some of the questions at the heart of defining the purpose, structure and direction of governance of trade and investment in agriculture, in order to place livelihoods, dignity, sustainability, resilience and food security at the heart of the rules governing these areas.

Downloads of the booklet are available at the link below:

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December 2014

Informal Report and Understandings Emerging from the Second Expert Consultation on QUNO's New Framework for Trade and Investment in Agriculture (NFTIA), 22-23 May 2014

The current multilateral framework governing international agricultural trade was designed a quarter of a century ago, as part of the World Trade Organization (WTO). Since 2007, however, the situation on world markets for agricultural goods has changed dramatically. The general consensus is that the new features of the global agricultural situation are not adequately reflected in the proposals for the reform of international rules relating to trade and investment in agriculture

QUNO therefore established this programme, working collaboratively towards a New Framework for Trade and Investment in Agriculture (NFTIA) so that trade policies and rules do not trump food security measures and trade is seen as a tool that can support food security in appropriate situations. Following a successful small expert consultation in January 2014, QUNO convened a second such consultation in Geneva on 22-23 May 2014 to advance the work on NFTIA. Present were representatives of State trade delegations, farmers organizations from different parts of the world, and trade and food security experts, academics and researchers.

The following informal report summarizes the discussion and understandings emerging from this consultation, which will inform our NFTIA work going forward.

Author: 

  • Susan Bragdon
  • Claire Rodgerson

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December 2014

Geneva Reporter, October - December 2014

In this issue:

  • What is an NDC? Elements for a New Climate Agreement 
  • Drones: Transparency and Protection 
  • I Belong: Eradicating Statelessness 
  • Biological Diversity, Food Security and Small-scale Farmers’ Innovation 
  • Highlights from QUNO New York
  • News in Brief

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Recent Timeline Events

June 2016

QUNO signs joint Quaker statement on TTIP

Five Quaker organisations from Europe and the United States have asked governments to say ‘no’ to the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), the controversial ‘mega’ trade deal being negotiated between the European Union and the United States.  

It is the first time that Quaker organisations, working on both sides of the Atlantic, have spoken out together against such a trade treaty.

American Friends Service Committee, Friends Committee on National Legislation, Quaker Council for European Affairs, Quaker United Nations Office and Quaker Peace & Social Witness, have sent a statement to Prime Minister David Cameron, government representatives and trade officials. They said that TTIP negotiations are prioritising the prospect of short-term economic gain over the longer-term factors necessary to human wellbeing and protection of the Earth.

The statement comes in the context of building opposition to TTIP, as controversial, confidential negotiation documents were leaked into the public domain and the French government has warned that it is considering blocking the deal.

TTIP is set to include a so-called Investor to State Dispute Settlement mechanism or Investment Court System, under which foreign companies could sue governments for introducing social, environmental, health or other legislation believed to threaten profitability.  The Quakers assert that these mechanisms hand too much power to large companies, making them “fundamentally antidemocratic in nature and therefore unacceptable”.

Read the full statement here.

Photo: GotCredit/Flickr

Related Areas of Work

April 2016

Research paper: Access to seeds: lessons from the access to medicines debate

Access to seeds.jpg

This new research paper considers what lessons the access to medicines debate provides for those concerned with protecting farmers’ access to seeds. Taking the Doha Declaration on TRIPS and Public Health as its point of departure, this paper explores implications for interested parties at the international and national levels, as well as for multilateral institutions themselves.

Key messages include: 

1) The importance of public opinion and pragmatic coalition-building in raising the political capital to deal with sensitive negotiating topics;

2) The need for national governments to use TRIPS flexibilities in the same way that many already have for safeguarding access to medicines;

3) The urgent need for sustained, productive collaboration between relevant multilateral institutions to clarify the governance structure for plant genetic resources. By doing so they can help ensure farmers' continued freedom to experiment with, store, exchange and re-use seed - essential practices for maintaining biodiversity and achieving food security.

The paper, prepared by QUNO Programme Assistant Patrick Endall (Food & Sustainability, Climate Change) is available here, or by clicking on the link below.

All QUNO work is published under a Creative Commons license.

Related Files

Related Areas of Work

February 2016

QUNO presents at international colloquium on global governance

On 4-5 February, QUNO's Food & Sustainability representative travelled to The Hague, Netherlands, to attend and present at a colloquium at the International Institute of Social Studies. Susan was among a diverse set of speakers examining the intersections between global governance and politics, climate justice and agrarian / social justice.

Her paper calls for a reinvigoration of the public sector, with a particular focus on food security, small-scale farmers and intellectual property rules.

 

Related Links

Related Areas of Work