Development Law Service Newsletter - Issue #3 of 2016

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In this issue:

Integrating human rights into sectoral legislation

In September 2015, the Heads of State and Government and High Representatives (“HSG”) meeting at the UN Headquarters adopted the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). They resolved

“between now and 2030, to end poverty and hunger everywhere; to combat inequalities within and among countries; to build peaceful, just and inclusive societies; to protect human rights and promote gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls; and to ensure the lasting protection of the planet and its natural resources […] to create conditions for sustainable, inclusive and sustained economic growth, shared prosperity and decent work for all, taking into account different levels of national development and capacities” (paragraph 3).

In so doing, the HSG made a series of commitments to strive to achieve certain goals, including to end hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture (Goal 2). They acknowledged “the essential role of national parliaments through their enactment of legislation […] and their role in ensuring accountability for the effective implementation” of the commitments (paragraph 45). They further recognized the role of intergovernmental organizations such as FAO in supporting the achievement of sustainable development (paragraph 46). Read more...

International labour standards and rural employment

LEGN participates in FAO’s work on Decent Rural Employment with a focus on international labour standards and their application in rural areas. The legal support provided by LEGN does not replace or duplicate the work of the International Labour Organization (ILO) or its expert bodies. Rather, we seek to find ways to integrate labour standards and human rights in the sectoral laws. One of the first research results delivered by LEGN under Decent Rural Employment is an assessment of international labour standards that apply to rural employment. The aim was to produce easily accessible material that compiles international labour and human rights instruments that apply to the agriculture, forestry, fisheries and aquaculture sectors and assesses their applicability to various forms of work in these sectors. The result has been published in English as an FAO Legal Paper and can be used as a reference material in the development of relevant policies, laws, programmes and implementation capacity.


Antimicrobial resistance: the role of FAO and LEGN

Antimicrobials control and treat potentially harmful microorganisms to human and animal health, including bacteria, fungi, viruses, and parasites. Antimicrobials have played an important role in protecting human health, animal health, and food production for the past century. With the increasingly prolific use of antimicrobials globally come concerns over antimicrobial resistance (AMR) which have emerged in the past two decades. Recognizing FAO’s unique position to curb the rise of AMR through its work in related fields, the FAO Conference adopted a resolution in June 2015 on AMR and the use of antibiotics in animals (Resolution 4/2015 Antimicrobial Resistance. 13 June 2015. Report of the Conference of FAO Thirty-Ninth Session ). Taking an integrated, comprehensive “One Health” approach, FAO is collaborating with the World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) to control the threats posed by AMR, to encourage the responsible use of antimicrobials and promote the guidelines and standards produced by the Codex Alimentarius Commission and the OIE.

Regulating Antimicrobial Use (AMU) spans multiple sectors, and ranges from the production, importation, distribution and use of antimicrobials to the residues of antimicrobials in food and the discharge of waste into the environment. Traditional areas of concern for AMR include the regulatory frameworks for food safety and veterinary medicines, including medicated feed. However, there is increasing concern about the impact on regulatory areas such as environment and wastewater legislation, crop production or pesticides.

The wide scope of regulatory areas affected, along with the piecemeal adoption of regulatory approaches and continuous scientific developments related to AMR, presents unique regulatory and institutional challenges in addressing AMR and AMU related issues through legislation. LEGN is providing support by identifying gaps in the international framework and standards, as well as identifying good regulatory practices and ways to strengthen national legislation to combat AMR.

Combating IUU fishing through the Port States Measures Agreement

June 2016 saw the entry into force of the Port State Measures Agreement (PSMA), the world’s first international treaty specifically aimed at tackling Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing.

It is estimated that globally IUU fishing accounts for annual catches of up to 26 million tonnes, with a value of up to US$23 billion. IUU not only jeopardizes marine ecosystems but also threatens the livelihoods and food securities of millions of fishers around the world.

The PSMA requires foreign vessels to submit to inspections at any port of call and for port States to share information on violations. Improvement on prior rules requiring countries to control the activities of their own fishing, The new treaty is designed to raise the cost of IUU fishing as it blocks improperly caught fish from being landed and entering markets.

FAO has established an inter-regional Technical Cooperation Programme and a Global Capacity Development Umbrella Programme to support logistical, legislative and legal aspects of translating the PSMA into practice.

LEGN briefings for FAO decentralized offices in Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean

Between May 2016 and July 2016, a series of LEGN briefings were held by videoconference for FAO decentralized offices in Francophone African countries and Spanish-speaking countries of Latin America and the Caribbean. These meetings were the continuation of an initiative started in mid-2015 to bring LEGN and country offices closer, in an effort to improve coordination in the provision of legal advisory services to FAO Members.

The wide participation was much appreciated by LEGN, and included colleagues from the offices in Argentina, Benin, Bolivia, Brazil, Cabo Verde, Chad, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Ethiopia, El Salvador, Gabon, Guatemala, Guinea, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Uruguay and Venezuela. The Deputy Regional Representative for the Latin America and Caribbean Region and the FAO Sub-regional Office for Central Africa also participated.

The briefings allow LEGN to explain the range of support it can provide and its operational modalities. These briefings also provide an opportunity for exchanges of views on substantive issues, and specific regional or country priorities and activities. For example, in the LAC briefings, discussions addressed issues as diverse as work with the Parliamentary Fronts against Hunger, the strengthening of right to food and family farming laws, the revision of fisheries laws and the need to create an effective legal framework to protect seeds and agricultural biodiversity. In the Africa briefings, colleagues discussed quality signs for food products such as geographical indications, and the strengthening of farmer’s organizations.

LEGN has found these conversations very helpful as a means to exchange views on potential projects and emerging issues. We invite colleagues who may not have been able to participate in LEGN briefings, or would like follow up briefings, or may wish to learn more about the Development Law Service to contact us at FAO Headquarters or through our out-posted Officers – Lalaina Ravelomanantsoa and Manuela Cuvi – who, respectively, focus especially on Africa and Latin America and the Caribbean.

PCE facilitators training

The International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) Secretariat organized training for Phytosanitary Capacity Evaluation (PCE) Facilitators in Ronciglione, Italy. The PCE is a management tool designed to help a country to identify both strengths and gaps in its existing and planned phytosanitary systems.

The training sought to give participants a better understanding of the PCE modules developed by the IPPC. This event brought together technical consultants from European and Near East countries with a number of legal experts and provided a chance for an exchange of knowledge and experience from different nations, and allowed legal and technical experts to gain a better understanding of their respective perspectives and identify opportunities for mutual support. LEGN officers participated as trainers and trainees, providing training on law related matters and learning on technical aspects.

This training is the first of its kind, with upcoming sessions in Anglophone Africa, Francophone Africa, Asia/Pacific, Latin America and the Caribbean, to be conducted in English, French and Spanish.

ECOLEX enhances access to information and knowledge of environmental law

This month the ECOLEX partners – FAO, IUCN and UNEP – have launched a revamped website that enables enhanced access to information on the growing body of law underpinning environmental protection, conservation and sustainable development (available at www.ecolex.org ).

FAO contributes its collection of national legislation related to food, agriculture and natural resource management from its FAOLEX database to ECOLEX, providing over 130,000 national legal instruments and weekly updates corresponding to an average of 8,000 new records a year.

Aside from the FAOLEX collection of national laws, the new ECOLEX gives access to:

  • 2 100 multilateral and bilateral environmental treaties;

  • 1 500 court decisions;

  • 37 000 bibliographic references to law and policy literature;

  • 10 000 decisions by treaty governing bodies.

The decisions of the primary organs of major multilateral environmental agreements constitute a new ECOLEX dataset under UNEP’s stewardship, drawing on InforMEA, the United Nations Information Portal on Multilateral Environmental Agreements.

FAO interns

Every year, the Legal Office welcomes a limited number of law students and recent graduates with a keen interest in development law or international organizations law as interns or volunteers at its Rome Headquarters and, as of 2016, LEGN interns can apply to work with its officers in Chile and Ethiopia.

The FAO rules governing internships apply, and candidates for internships must meet the following criteria:

  • Not be more than 30 years of age;

  • Be nationals of FAO Member Nations;

  • Be recent graduates or students in a recognized university or graduate school programme and have completed at the very least two years of undergraduate studies in a field relevant to the work of FAO, or be participants in a governmental or academic programme sponsoring assignments of recent graduates or students;

  • Have working knowledge of English, French or Spanish. Knowledge of one of the other two, or Arabic, Chinese or Russian, is an asset;

  • Be able to adapt to an international, multicultural and multilingual environment. They should demonstrate good communication skills and show initiative and flexibility; and,

  • Have none of the following relationships to staff members: son, daughter, brother or sister.

According to FAO rules, interns must receive a monthly stipend which is calculated on the basis of UN daily subsistence allowance rates. This may be provided by FAO, or a sponsoring institution, or both. Assignments normally last from three months to a maximum period of six months. Where there is a sponsoring institution, an agreement will normally have to be concluded between FAO and the institution.

The numbers of interns accepted is very limited, and prospective intern are selected from a roster based on the relevance of their skills and academic training to the work of the Office. For further information, please visit the FAO website at http://www.fao.org/employment/opportunities-for-young-talents/internship-programme/en/. Applications may now be submitted for 2017. To express an interest in being considered for an internship, please send the documents identified on this website to [email protected].


Our publications may be found at the Legal Office section of the FAO website. They include legislative studies and legal papers, as well as other FAO publications to which the Development Law Service has contributed.

You can also find the latest entries in the FAOLEX database of national laws, regulations and policies on food, agriculture and natural resources management, at: http://faolex.fao.org/faolex/latestentries.html.