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Declaration of principles

The World Conference on Agrarian Reform and Rural Development

Having met from 12 to 20 July 1979 in Rome, Italy;

Recalling that the Conference was a continuation of a long and deep concern of the international community with agrarian and rural questions;

Recalling also previous United Nations conferences, particularly the World Food Conference of 1974, the VI and VII Special Sessions of the UN General Assembly and the Charter of Economic Rights and Duties of States;

Recognizing that most development efforts have not yet succeeded in satisfying the aspirations of peoples and their basic requirements consistent with principles of human dignify and international social justice and solidarity, especially in the rural areas of developing countries;

Conscious that past development efforts and programmes have largely failed to reach and adequately to benefit the rural areas and have in many cases contributed to urban-rural imbalance in development, neglected the dynamism and diversity of authentic cultural values of the rural population and led to imbalances within the rural sector;

Aware of the need to adopt appropriate population policies within the context of socio-economic development, achieve ecological harmony and conserve finite resources;

Believing that poverty, hunger and malnutrition retard national development efforts and negatively affect world social and economic stability and that their eradication is the primary objective of world development;

Convinced that agrarian reform is a critical component of rural development and that the sustained improvement of rural areas, in the context of promotion of national self-reliance and the building of the New International Economic Order, requires fuller and more equitable access to land, water and other natural resources; widespread sharing of economic and political power; increasing and more productive employment; fuller use of human skills and energies; participation and integration of rural people into the production and distribution systems; increased production, productivity and food security for all groups; and mobilization of internal resources;

Reaffirming the UN General Assembly resolutions on world peace and disarmament and resolutions 3201 and 3202 of the VI Special Session relating to efforts "to put an end to all forms of foreign occupation, racial discrimination, apartheid, colonial, neo-colonial and alien domination and exploitation through the exercise of permanent sovereignty over all natural resources" and recognizing their bearing on agrarian reform and rural development;

Aware that, while the primary responsibility for agrarian reform and rural development rests with individual governments, a sustained and global programme will demand strong political commitment, active cooperation within the international community and commitment and effective use of financial, technical and human resources in a sound, systematic and coordinated manner;

Affirming that such cooperation must be based on resolute adherence to principles of independence, national sovereignty, self-determination of peoples and non-intervention in the internal affairs of States;

Recalling the relevant resolution of the UN General Assembly at its 33rd Session that the new international development strategy should provide a set of interrelated and concerted measures in all sectors of development in order to promote the economic and social development of the developing countries and to ensure their equitable, full and effective participation in the formulation and application of all decisions in the field of development and international economic cooperation;

Emphasizing that measures to strengthen international cooperation in agrarian reform and rural development are most effective when national strategies fully recognize the interdependence of industry and agriculture;

Recognizing that the UN system has a responsibility to formulate a new international development strategy and that the Food and Agriculture Organization, under the terms of its constitution, has an explicit obligation to elaborate those parts of this new strategy in regard to food, agriculture, nutrition and other areas of its competence, and should play a leading role in assisting developing countries to promote agrarian reform and rural development;

Hereby declares that a Programme of Action should be founded on the following guidelines and principles:

(i) That the fundamental purpose of development is individual and social betterment, development of endogenous capabilities and improvement of the living standards of all people, in particular the rural poor;

(ii) That the right of every State to exercise full and permanent sovereignty over its natural resources and economic activities and to adopt the necessary measures for the planning and management of its resources is of vital importance to rural development;

(iii) That the use of foreign investments for agricultural development of developing countries, in particular that of transnational corporations, must be in accordance with national needs and priorities;

(iv) That national progress based on growth with equity and participation requires a redistribution of economic and political power, fuller integration of rural areas into national development efforts, with expanded opportunities of employment and income for rural people, and development of farmers' associations, cooperatives and other forms of voluntary autonomous democratic organizations of primary producers and rural workers;

(v) That appropriate population policies and programmes can contribute to long-term social and economic progress;

(vi) That maximum efforts should be made to mobilize and use productively domestic resources for rural development;

(vii) That governments should introduce positive bias in favour of rural development and provide incentives for increased investment and production in rural areas;

(viii) That equitable distribution and efficient use of land, water and other productive resources, with due regard for ecological balance and environmental protection, are indispensable for rural development, for the mobilization of human resources and for increased production for the alleviation of poverty;

(ix) That diversification of rural economic activities, including integrated crop-livestock development, fisheries and aquaculture and integrated forestry development, is essential for broad-based rural development;

(x) That location of industries in the rural areas, in both the public and private sectors and particularly agro-industries, provides necessary and mutually reinforcing links between agriculture and industrial development;

(xi) That policies and programmes affecting agrarian and rural systems should be formulated and implemented with the full understanding and participation of all rural people, including youth, and of their own organizations at all levels, and that development efforts should be responsive to the varying needs of different groups of rural poor;

(xii) That understanding and awareness of the problems and opportunities of rural development among people at all levels and that improving the interaction between development personnel and the masses through an efficient communication system are prerequisites for the success of rural development strategy;

(xiii) That constant vigilance should be kept to ensure that benefits of agrarian reform and rural development are not offset by the reassertion of past patterns of concentration of resources in private hands or by the emergence of new forms of inequity;

(xiv) That women should participate and contribute on an equal basis with men in the social, economic and political processes of rural development and share fully in improved conditions of life in rural areas;

(xv) That international cooperation should be strengthened and a new sense of urgency introduced to augment the flow of financial and technical resources for rural development;

(xvi) That all governments should undertake new and more intensive efforts to ensure world food security and overcome inequities and instability in the trade of agricultural commodities of particular importance to developing countries; and

(xvii) That developing countries, with the support of international development organizations, should strengthen their technical cooperation in rural development and foster policies of collective self-reliance.

In the light of these guidelines and principles, and with due regard to the circumstances of each nation, the Conference adopts and recommends that governments, FAO and all other concerned organizations and bodies of the UN system implement the following Programme of Action.

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