This paper analyzes political organization and action that can be used
to, at least partially, overcome the lack of voice of poor producers in
the domestic and international policy arenas. The paper builds on a
series of eleven case studies - in nine developing countries and (as
examples of the effects of the 'global north') the European Union and
organizations setting Sanitary and Phytosanitary Standards (SPS) for
world trade -, carried out by a team of researchers from the University
of California, Berkeley. The paper is an update of working paper #12.
Peasant livestock producers are particularly disadvantaged
internationally and within their national systems because their
political participation tends to be mediated through patron-client ties.
Without outside help they are unlikely to engage in effective proactive
political action on issues related to their collective interests as
producers. Long term investments by NGOs and donors (international and
local; religious and secular; political and apolitical) in the capacity
of poor livestock producers and other peasants for political
organization ultimately will have great benefits for the poor.
International NGOs also offer a different and positive patronage link
into the 'global north,' which can be used to counter industrial
country attempts to co-opt local elites. Networks of NGOs and peasant
organizations that extend from the local through the national to the
international level add extra leverage.
Neo-liberal policies do not always benefit the poor but when they can be
shaped to do so, it makes political sense to steer within rather than
paddle against the current of donor opinion. The neo-liberal critique in
support of poor producers is at least as important in international
trade as it is within the boundaries of developing countries. There is a
strong need for sophisticated and detailed analyses of the international
trade measures that would most advantage the least developed countries
and the poor within them.
The dispute resolution and enforcement provisions of the World Trade
Organization give a new urgency to international procedures for setting
food safety and SPS standards. Developing countries need to form
alliances to assure their effective representation in these fora and
seek donor assistance for developing the technical capacity for the
analysis that they will need to be effective in them.
A three page executive summary is also available in addition to this
PPLPI, FAO, Rome, Italy, vi+29 pp.