Rights-based versus Market-based Development: A false dichotomy for small-scale Farmers?

15 februari, 2011

The event is hosted by SIANI, Sida and the Swedish Cooperative Center and takes place at Klarabiografen at Kulturhuset, Sergels torg in Stockholm. The third Provocation "Making Markets Work for the Poor and its Discontents" will take place in Paris on the 29th of March. The flyer for the second provocative seminar in Sweden can be found here.

Human rights
Over the past decade, development policy and discourse has become steeped in the language of human rights. Indeed, a ‘rights-based’ approach is the standard starting point for most cooperation efforts to reduce poverty. For example, the Swedish Policy for Global Development from 2003 states that the country’s policy and programmes will be guided by two key perspectives: that of the poor and that of human rights.Such rights-based development is sometimes seen as a key component in the struggle against globalization ruled by the market. But increasingly Swedish and other development policymakers are also embracing business as a valid tool for alleviating poverty among smallholders.

Sweden’s new Business for Development (B4D) programme is just one example. These ‘market-based’ approaches recognise the fact that most small-scale farmers are themselves entrepreneurs, and see the market (albeit usually a local one) as central to their development. As reported in a recent working paper from Hivos, small-scale farmers want a stronger bargaining position in the markets they buy from and sell to. They want the law to guarantee them minimum wages, better working conditions and stronger rights to their land. They want programmes that help them to better meet standards for lucrative markets and build a stronger lobby with political clout. And they want protection from loan sharks, crooked middlemen and corrupt landowners.

For development agencies working with smallholders, it is rarely a simple matter of choosing one approach over the other. Many find themselves operating from a rights-based approach at the policy level, while adopting a market-based approach in practice. Can they tread both paths at once? Often, trying to do so can introduce major contradictions and stresses into development institutions.

This seminar will bring together policymakers, academics and practitioners working at the interface between small-scale production, markets and development to share their insights into the potentials and pitfalls of rights-based and market-based approaches. It will aim to address the following:
• Is the distinction between rights-based and market-based development valid for small-scale farmers, or is it a false dichotomy?
• Is the issue less markets per se than power relations within markets and concentration and control as well as the terms for international trade?
• What are the opportunities for reconciling rights-based and market-based development frameworks?
• Can a rights perspective help us understand small-scale producers’ struggle to access markets, deal with big business, and compete on quality and price?
• What can agribusiness learn from rights-based approaches in their search for ‘inclusive’ business?

Olivier de Schutter, UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food; Mia Horn af Rantzien, former Deputy Director General, Sida and former Ambassador to the World Trade Organization; Morrison Rwakakamba, Chief Executive Officer and Senior Research Fellow, Agency For Transformation; Diana Mitlin, IDPM/IIED and co-editor of ‘Rights-based approaches to development: exploring the potential and pitfalls’; André Gonçalves, Centro Ecológico, Brazil

Live streaming
The seminar will be broadcast as a live video stream on the IIED website, and also recorded and posted on the site for later viewing. Viewers of the live stream will be able to submit their own perspectives and ask questions in real time. The seminar will be conducted in English and Spanish. The broadcast will be made in collaboration with One World Media.

Registration & Contact
For inquiries regarding transport and accommodation, contact Benita Forsman at benita.forsman@sei.se. For further information on the event, contact Olivia Taghioff at olivia.taghioff@sei.se

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