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Call to action to alleviate hunger

students studying at UEL

A UEL lecturer has called on the European Union to provide leadership and to support the global movement recognising fundamental human rights to land for the most destitute.

Dr Jérémie Gilbert, a Reader in the School of Business and Law, was speaking at a roundtable debate at EXPO Milan hosted by the Committee on Development of the European Union.

The roundtable focused on the 2015 report ‘The State of Food Insecurity in the World’, stressing the importance of ensuring access to land and securing tenure for local communities.
Dr Gilbert highlighted the importance of recognising the rights to land of the most marginalised communities, notably small-scale farmers, pastoralists, indigenous peoples and women.

“This recognition is becoming extremely important for many communities across the globe which are witnessing a loss of their access to land, notably due to increased foreign investments in land acquisitions, especially in developing countries,” said Dr Gilbert.

“As such, many communities are using the human rights language to ensure that their right over their lands are protected.”

Focusing on current legal international human rights, Dr Gilbert highlighted the gap in the current legal system, which still predominately protects the ‘landed’ rather than the ‘landless’. He called on policy makers to do more to support impoverished communities who rely on access to their lands and natural resources in their daily life.
“It was great to be able to directly engage with the members of the European Parliament who are working on these issues, notably at the time when the European Union can make a big impact on controlling the way large-scale land acquisitions are taking place,” said Dr Gilbert.

“It was also a great opportunity to be able to share the panel with H.E. Xanana Gusmão, a former freedom fighter from East Timor, who became the first President of independent East Timor.”
As it is the European Year for Development 2015, the event was part of the global call to action to achieve zero hunger. It follows the recent adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development at the United Nations in New York.