Resources for:

Agricultural Trade and Investment

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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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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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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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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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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December 2014

Trade Liberalization and Food Security: Examining the Linkages

The paper is released as 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.

The analysis presented in the paper highlights three points:

  • First, it shows that the dominant neoclassical economic arguments for agricultural trade have many caveats that need to be put out in the open and examined in light of food security concerns.
  • Second, it shows that current trade theory tends to utilize an outdated notion of food security, and could benefit from a more nuanced understanding of the concept.
  • Third, it shows that trade theory and policy tends to prioritize efficiency (in a narrow sense) over other social goals, including ensuring the right to food, the need to preserve livelihoods and to protect the environment.

Given the political importance of these social goals, the paper suggests that we are only likely to see advancement of the dialogue on trade policy and food security once these broader goals are put on equal footing with trade and efficiency concerns.

Author: 

  • Jennifer Clapp

Languages: 

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August 2014

QUNO and Minute 36

Minute 36 (the Canterbury Commitment) challenges Quakers to seek a sustainable, equitable and peaceful life on Earth. Britain Yearly Meeting is responding to this challenge by focusing on how to become a low-carbon sustainable community. The Quaker United Nations Office responds to the same challenge at the international level in our work on climate change, natural resource management, food and sustainability, and human rights.

This briefing paper connects the work of QUNO to the concerns and the spirit of Minute 36, describing the linkages between local, national and international levels of engagement.

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March 2014

Opinions on the multilateral framework for trade and investment in agriculture: Analysis of an online survey

Presentation shared during an off the record expert consultation convened by QUNO on a New Framework on Trade and Investment in Agriculture. This presentation shared the results of a survey carried out by QUNO in 2013 to gather opinions of the adequacy of the current international rules which govern trade and investment in agriculture.

97.5% of survey respondents felt that the current rules are not adequate to address food security and environmental challenges.

Responses were gathered from individuals from within NGOs, States, Farmers` movements and secretariats of international institutions such as FAO and the WTO. Participants shared important issues to be addressed by the international system, also ideas for how changes can be made to achieve a system which adequately addresses food security and environmental challenges.

Author: 

  • Claire Rodgerson

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March 2014

The right to food and its relation to trade and investment rules, written statement to the 25th session of the Human Rights Council

In this written statement by Friends World Committee for Consultation to the 25th session of the Human Rights Council (HRC), Quakers ask that the Right to Food be considered in the development of new policy frameworks for trade and investment in agriculture. It calls on the HRC to encourage the design of alternative approaches to trade and investment rules with people, sustainability and food at the centre and the creation of an enabling international legal environment that supports domestic efforts towards the realization of the right to food.

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March 2014

International Finance and Investment in Agriculture: Trends and Prospects

Presentation shared during an off the record expert consultation convened by QUNO on a New Framework on Trade and Investment in Agriculture. Participants were invited to review of changes in food systems since the conclusion of the WTO's Agreement on Agriculture and other trade agreements, to better understand the current climate, need and potential for change so that trade and investment rules support all people's food security. 

Author: 

  • Jennifer Clapp

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March 2014

Shifts and emerging trends in commodity production and trade flows

Presentation shared during an off the record expert consultation convened by QUNO on a New Framework on Trade and Investment in Agriculture. Participants were invited to review of changes in food systems since the conclusion of the WTO's Agreement on Agriculture and other trade agreements, to better understand the current climate, need and potential for change so that trade and investment rules support all people's food security. 

Author: 

  • Mathilde Douillet

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March 2014

'Stateless State' and self-organization as a policy resource

Presentation shared during an off the record expert consultation convened by QUNO on a New Framework on Trade and Investment in Agriculture. Participants were invited to review of changes in food systems since the conclusion of the WTO's Agreement on Agriculture and other trade agreements, to better understand the current climate, need and potential for change so that trade and investment rules support all people's food security. 
 

 

Author: 

  • Stephen Sherwood
January 2014

Background note: A guide for planning and strategy development in the face of complexity

How can policy makers, managers and practitioners best plan in the face of complexity? Does complexity make planning an irrelevant exercise? This background note is a guide, elaborating how planning and strategy development can be carried out despite complexity.

Author: 

  • Richard Hummelbrunner and Harry Jones

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November 2013

A New Framework for Trade and Investment in Agriculture – QUNO`s vision

The Quaker United Nations Office (QUNO) is working with others to explore the purpose, structure and direction of the governance of trade and investment in agriculture. To do this, we are stepping back from international negotiations relating to trade and investment in agriculture and asking questions about what an ideal framework to govern trade and investment in agriculture should look like. This document outlines QUNO's NFTIA vision.

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October 2013

Geneva Reporter

Geneva's newsletter from July to October 2013. Features stories:

  • Children of parents sentenced to death or executed
  • New framework for trade and investment in agriculture
  • Conscientious objection to military service
  • New energy on nuclear disarmament
  • Highlights from QUNO New York

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October 2013

Definition of 'Breeder' under UPOV

A briefing paper on food, biological diversity and intellectual property for the October 2013 UPOV sessions. It urges delegates to carefully consider their countries' objectives and realities in the area of agriculture when discussing the draft Explanatory Note on the definition of 'breeder' in the UPOV Council and Committee, particularly in relation to the role that smallholder farmers play in plant breeding.

Author: 

  • Caroline Dommen

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August 2013

NFTIA Draft Mapping of Alternative Proposals

QUNO believes that by placing people’s livelihoods and dignity alongside sustainability and food security as the central objectives of agriculture trade, it is possible to envision a new framework of agricultural trade and investment rules that would better enable countries to meet peoples’ long-term food security needs and objectives. This document is a draft mapping of some of the alternatives already proposed.
 

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