487 p.PezziOn February 7, 2014, Fr. Gian Paolo Pezzi, on behalf of VIVAT In-ternational, submitted to the UN’s 8th Session of the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals a statement on the theme: “Allowing land grabs to continue equals inviting global conflicts.” We report just two of its paragraphs.

“Research has shown that there are currently over 200 local conflicts taking place in Central and South America alone that have resulted from mining activities. Conflicts are happening in Peru, Colombia, Guatemala, and Ecuador just to name a few. Blood is being poured out day after day because of the ‘rush for land’ while land grabbing continues to take place on all continents, though at least 60% is believed to occur in Africa, where investment in land is hardly ever conflict-neutral. In the Horn of Africa there is potential for localized political grievances linked to land issues to turn into wider regional conflicts.”

“As a result, in many parts of the world land grabbing is already leading to social conflicts, massive internal displacement of people as well as loss of their cultural identity, systematic human rights violations, destruction of livelihoods, poverty, permanent environmental damage, pollution and loss of biodiversity. Indigenous people’s leaders, community leaders and human rights defenders who speak out on behalf of their communities affected by land grabs are frequently persecuted, are victims of torture, arbitrary detentions, enforced disappearances and assassinations."