THE aid agency War on Want has explained why it declined to join
a new campaign against hunger. It cited the "gross
misrepresentation" of the G8 as a body committed to solving global
hunger; the failure to engage with farmers' organisations; and the
absence of any reference to "food sovereignty".
Launched last week (
News, 25 January), the "Enough Food for Everyone IF" campaign
is supported by 100 agencies, including Christian Aid, Tearfund,
and Oxfam, and by the Church of England. It calls on world leaders
to "act on four big issues" related to hunger: aid, tax avoidance,
land grabbing, and transparency (for governments and companies to
be "honest about their actions that stop people getting enough
On Friday of last week, War on Want, a charity founded in 1951
that campaigns on the premise that "poverty is political", outlined
its refusal to join the IF alliance in a blog.
"War on Want understands hunger, like all forms of poverty, to
be the result of political decisions that are taken by national and
international élites, and contested through political action," it
said. "The IF campaign is promoting a wholly false image of the G8
as committed to resolving the scandal of global hunger rather than
(in reality) being responsible for perpetuating it."
The charity is critical of what it perceives as the failure of
the IF coalition to engage with farmers' movements, such as La Via
Campesina, and "the absence of any reference to food sovereignty":
people's right to "define their own agricultural and food policies
as a means to securing their right to food, including through
agrarian reform in favour of peasant farming communities".
The World Development Movement has also declined to join the
campaign, citing similar concerns. The IF campaign was concerned
with "food security", but was not "challenging the power and impact
of the financial system on food prices, nor is it grounded in the
principles of food sovereignty".
Jean Blaylock, co-ordinator of the UK Food Group, a network of
49 organisations including most of the founders of the IF campaign,
but also farmers, consumers, and academic institutions, confirmed
on Tuesday that it had not joined the campaign, owing to "clearly
very divergent views" among members.
On Wednesday, a spokesperson for the IF coalition said that,
through its more than 100 members, it had "literally tens of
thousands of partnerships . . . with civil-society groups, local
communities, and farming collectives in the developing world", and
that its policy agenda had been informed by these relationships.
Food sovereignty was not supported by all in the coalition; "so we
can't collectively campaign on that".
She said that the G8 was a target of the campaign as a powerful
forum "on our doorstep" (it will be held in Northern Ireland in
June). IF had "set out a radical and challenging campaign to
government", and the Prime Minister's attack on tax avoidance at
the Davos conference last week was welcome.
Debates about the campaign were "healthy and essential", she
said; but "when charities start falling out with each other over
the organisation of their campaigns, we risk coming across to the
public and to policy-makers like the Judaean People's Front arguing
with the People's Front of Judaea in Monty Python's Life of
Brian. . . We can't afford to be cynical for too long. There
is too much to do, and the opportunity this year is too great to