We, civil society organizations engaged in the defense of the rights to land and water, we gathered in Dakar in the framework of the Africa Social Forum fighting and protesting against natural resources grabbing, namely water and land grabbing, and against the systematic violations of the human rights that accompany them. By sharing our ideas, we acknowledged the essential linkage between our struggles, given the inextricable nature of land and water grabbing.
Today, more than 200 million hectares of land have been supposedly grabbed globally. Thus the huge profits of an elite are built on the systematic violation of the rights of the majority of peasants, farmers, informal settlements' dwellers, fishermen, herders and nomads, who are dispossessed of their land and livelihoods by resort to violence, intimidation and torture. Land grabbing is always accompanied by water grabbing. Indeed, water grabbing occurs in all instances of unsustainable water-consuming farming, through the privatization of water utilities and management, the contamination of water brought about by uncontrolled mining, the eviction of communities for dams building, the militarization of access to water points, the dispossession of fishermen and shepherds of their livelihoods, and the penalization of water poverty. The criminalization of activists fighting for the protection of the commons has become widespread, albeit hidden by the authorities. Land and water resources are increasingly scarce, and therefore critical to the security of societies and the sovereignty of states. However, the scarcity underpinning the water crisis and the land crisis is not naturally given; instead, it is politically, geo-strategically and financially constructed.
Our solidarity is built upon the following principles and convictions that unify our struggles:
1. That, the human rights to water and land are fundamental, and crucial for life. Everyone, men and women, adults and children, rich and poor, is entitled to them.
2. That, water and land are not only vital natural resources, but are also part of our common heritage, whose security and governance must be preserved by each community for the common good of our societies and the environment, now and for future generations.
3. Water and Land are commons, and not commodities.
4. We recognize that the states are legally and constitutionally mandated to represent peoples' interest. States are therefore duty-bound to oppose every national policy and international treaty that contrast the human rights to water and land.
5. Management policies of land and water should promote the achievement of social justice, gender equality, public health and environmental justice.
That is why, together as civil societies in Africa and elsewhere,
we pledge ourselves to:
- sensitize, educate and organize citizens and communities in order to build a strong and united movement struggling for the recognition and enforcement of our rights to land and water;
- always defend before institutions the right of citizens and communities to free, prior and informed consent in the governance of natural resources;
- build synergies among civil society actors struggling against
land and water grabbing in order to implement national platforms for
the governance of natural resources.
Read here their demands of states and international government organisations.