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DevLaw 1/2016


THE FAO DEVELOPMENT LAW SERVICE NEWSLETTER


ISSUED BY THE LEGAL OFFICE

 
 

January, 2016

LEGN Officers out-posted in Latin America and the Caribbean and in Africa

Two LEGN professional officers have been out-posted to provide services within Latin America and the Caribbean and Africa, respectively. The decision to outpost the positions was taken by the Director-General in order to strengthen the capacity of LEGN to respond to the needs of regions and countries in the context of development law assistance, and to facilitate the provision of legislative support to Members by the decentralized offices.

Ms. Manuela Cuvi, the LEGN Legal Officer for the Latin America and the Caribbean Region (LAC) took up her post late-August 2015 and she is based in the FAO Regional Office (RLC) in Santiago. Mr. Lalaina Ravelomanantsoa also recently took up his position and he is based in the FAO Sub-Regional Office for Eastern Africa (SFE) in Addis Ababa, from where he covers the Africa Region (RAF).

Working in close coordination with LEGN colleagues based at HQ, the out-posted LEGN officers provide services related to LEGN's mandate, upon request, to all the Members and all the FAO offices in their Regions. They support implementation of technical legal assistance projects (legislative reform, legal capacity-building) in their respective Regions. They serve as a focal point for exchanges between LEGN at Headquarters and Members and offices in the Regions, communicating Regional and country priorities and requests, with a view to ensuring coordination of work and the consideration of such priorities in LEGN work planning. If you are located in a decentralized office in Latin America and the Caribbean or in Africa, please do not hesitate to contact Manuela or Lalaina if you need guidance or support concerning development law matters. They can, for example, assist you in drafting elements of your project proposals relating to legislative reform and legal capacity-building, as well as in the selection and supervision of regional and national legal experts to support delivery of your activities.

FAOLEX celebrates its 20 year anniversary

2015 marked the 20 year anniversary of the FAOLEX database. We thought we would take this opportunity to highlight the resources available through this key tool which is maintained by LEGN.

FAOLEX is a free, online source of national legislation, policies and bilateral agreements on food, agriculture and renewable natural resources. The database provides access to texts related to all the areas of FAO's mandate (agriculture, livestock, environment, fisheries, food, forestry, land and soil, cultivated plants, water and wild species and ecosystems), and contains over 140,000 records of relevant legislation and policies. The policy documents were a new addition to the database in 2015, with the aim of providing a more complete governance context for users. To date, there are approximately 525 policy documents available in FAOLEX. Some 8,000 new legislative and policy texts are added to the database annually.

FAOLEX provides access to texts from a wide range of languages (Albanian, Arabic, Azeri, Bosnian, Chinese, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hungarian, Italian, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Serbian, Spanish and Turkish). Legal and policy texts are regularly collected from many jurisdictions, summarized and categorized. The full text of each document is uploaded in FAOLEX in its original language, accompanied by a brief summary of its content in English.

FAOLEX's functionality has recently improved, with the creation of the Country Profile page. Each Country Profile displays brief overviews of the law and policy documents of each Member and Associate Member of the Organization.

FAOLEX not only allows for direct access to legislative instruments but also allows users to perform comparative assessments based on geographic region or resource, it can be a useful tool for comparative analysis and, ultimately, lawmaking. As such, it is extremely useful source of information for government ministries, UN Agencies, IGOs, civil society, researchers, academics and private sector organizations. Over the course of 2015, approximately 270,000 users have relied upon the database, and receives a daily average of 1,200 users.

Some users may also be familiar with FAOLEX through ECOLEX, a database on environmental law that is jointly operated by FAO, IUCN and UNEP. FAOLEX data has been integrated into ECOLEX and the result of this integration is the largest free resource on environmental law, containing not only legislation, but also international treaties, court decisions and literature (journal articles, case studies, reports and various publications) related to the environment, agriculture and natural resources management.

FAOLEX also collaborates with a number of other FAO units to develop platforms addressing specific technical areas, such as the Family Farming Knowledge Platform, Wildlife, and WaterLex.

If you are working in a FAO decentralized office, your help in making FAOLEX as comprehensive as possible would be very welcome. While we have a very strong network to source relevant instruments, there are gaps. If you should see that a relevant document is missing from our collection, please email it to us at FAOLEX@fao.org.

Progress in the fight against IUU fishing through port state measures.

FAO has continued its efforts to encouraging the adherence to, and effective implementation of 2009 FAO Agreement on Port State Measures to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal Unreported and Unregulated Fishing (PSMA).

FAO's efforts have particularly focused on preparing for entry into force of the Agreement. In particular, workshops have been organized to provide information for implementation and the opportunity for an international exchange of knowledge to facilitate implementation of the Agreement as a means to combat IUU fishing. FAO's Fisheries and Aquaculture Department, in collaboration with the FAO Country Office in Sri Lanka and LEGN, organized a workshop at the beginning of June 2015 for the North-West Indian Ocean region. At the time of the workshop, only two countries from the region, Oman and Sri Lanka, were parties to the Agreement. In late July 2015, FAO organized another global workshop targeting African coastal countries bordering the Atlantic Ocean. At the time, Gabon was the sole West African party to the Agreement.

LEGN has also been receiving an increasing number of requests directly from the Members to assist in legislative reform, with a view to supporting their implementation of the Agreement and it is, in particular, working with several countries in the Asia and Pacific region.

In the last months, several countries became parties to the Agreement, bringing the total number of ratifications, accessions, acceptance and approvals to 18 at the time this Newsletter was issued. You can find information on the status of acceptances on the website of the Legal Office. The Agreement requires 25 instruments of adhesion to the Agreement in order for it to enter into force. If you would like general information on the Agreement, or guidance on legal activities aimed at supporting its implementation, please contact LEGN at the following email: LEGN-Chief@fao.org.

The Legal Guide on Contract Farming: first steps towards implementation

Legal Guide After three years of collaboration, the UNIDROIT/FAO/IFAD Legal Guide on Contract Farming was launched on 28 July 2015. The Legal Guide was developed by an expert working group composed of private law scholars, international organizations, farmers' representatives and the private sector.

The Legal Guide describes the elements that should be incorporated in contract farming operations, understood as forward agricultural contracts between producers and buyers under agreed technical specifications. This comprehensive text, running to 220 pages, is intended to facilitate fair transactions and improve security and equity for both parties, with special attention to farmers as the weaker party. We believe that it will be a useful reference point for anyone involved in drafting contracts between agricultural producers and their buyers, as well as those involved in implementing or interpreting them. The Legal Guide carefully addresses each element that should be included in a contract, highlighting the particular considerations and risks that arise in the context of contract farming.

FAO, IFAD and UNIDROIT will continue their fruitful collaboration by beginning activities to support the implementation of the Legal Guide, including through the preparation of outreach materials, capacity development workshops, online dissemination methods, and the establishment of a legal community of practice. If you would like more information on the Legal Guide, please do not hesitate to contact LEGN.

Decent Rural Employment: the integration of labour standards into LEGN's core activities

LEGN is collaborating with the Decent Rural Employment team of FAO's Economic and Social Development Department on the "Integrated Country Approach for promoting decent rural youth employment" programme. Under this programme, LEGN is conducting national legal assessments on labour law in the agriculture, forestry, fisheries and aquaculture sectors of Senegal, Uganda, and Guatemala. The assessments aim to highlight the particular labour issues that arise in those sectors and seek to identify gaps in policy and legal frameworks as well as in their implementation. In addition to providing recommendations for ongoing and future policy and law-making processes, the legal assessments serve as case studies for a legislative study that is being developed by LEGN. This legislative study will, in turn, serve as a source of reference for the integration of labour standards in LEGN's legal advisory work in the agriculture, forestry, fisheries and aquaculture sectors. Once completed, the results of the assessments will be shared with all relevant stakeholders.

Legal activities supporting the implementation of the VGGT

The Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security (VGGT) were endorsed by the Committee on World Food Security in 2012. The stated purpose of the VGGT is "to serve as a reference and to provide guidance to improve the governance of tenure of land, fisheries and forests with the overarching goal of achieving food security for all and to support the progressive realization of the right to adequate food in the context of national food security".

Since their endorsement, FAO has worked hard to promote the implementation of the VGGT and LEGN is an active member of FAO's Task Force to support implementation of the VGGT. It takes part in awareness raising activities when possible and its technical legal work on tenure is based on the VGGT. A recent example of this work took place in the Central African Republic (Bangui), where a national workshop on harmonizing the legal framework for tenure took place in July 2015. The participants, who included representatives from government, academia, civil society, indigenous peoples and the private sector, discussed the value and use of the VGGT in Central African Republic and identified legal actions to improve governance of tenure. A comprehensive legal review prepared under the guidance of LEGN served as a base to establish principles for future legal reforms and from which to propose a framework law on tenure rights. As a next step, wide consultation with relevant authorities, local communities and civil society has been recommended as a next step towards the adoption of a framework law by Parliament. The workshop closing was chaired by the Prime Minister accompanied by seven Ministers - an unusually high level of participation.

Cambodian Veterinary Law Gains Approval

After two years of discussions, the Council of Ministers of the Kingdom of Cambodia has approved the veterinary law, and the National Assembly passed the law in December 2015. The law provides Cambodia with a modern regulatory mechanism that covers different areas of veterinary legislation, including animal health, production, welfare, the livelihoods of veterinary workers and environmental concerns. The draft was prepared by an inter-ministerial committee, coordinated by the veterinary services. The draft benefited from a broad range of consultations with stakeholders, including farmers' representatives, the private sector and international partners. LEGN, working closely with the veterinary experts of the Cambodia unit of the FAO Emergency Centre for Transboundary Animal Diseases, provided assistance for both the preparation of the first draft of the law and the consultation process.

New Guidelines on Pesticide Legislation

In response to growing awareness of the negative long-term health and environmental effects of pesticides, FAO and WHO have just released the New Guidelines on pesticide legislation and labelling, developed to support implementation of the International Code of Conduct on Pesticide Management.

The target audiences for the New Guidelines are regulatory authorities who are developing or revising national pesticide legislation. In particular, they provide guidance to regulators in drafting legislation covering pesticides at all stages of the pesticide life cycle. The Guidelines are the result of collaboration between LEGN, the FAO Pesticide Risk Reduction team in the Plant Production and Protection Division, and the members of the FAO/WHO Joint Meeting on Pesticide Management, which discussed and approved the final text.