GRAIN recently released a comprehensive and compelling account of the horrendous treatment and human rights abuses of multiple communities in the DRC in a 100 year-old land rights struggle with foreign agribusiness investors. According to GRAIN’s report “Agro-colonialism in the Congo: European and US development finance bankrolls a new round of agro-colonialism in the DRC”, in 2009 a Canadian agribusiness company, Feronia Inc., bought up land previously controlled by Unilever in the DRC. Unilever had chosen to abandon its palm oil plantations on this land — which its predecessor, Lever brothers, had acquired under colonial rule — due to an ongoing war in eastern Congo. The legacy of social injustices that Unilever left behind (read section of report titled “Unilever’s Role” for a horrific and detailed account) has persisted and expanded under Feronia’s ownership, which now carries the support and financial backing of multiple powerful development finance institutions (DFI).
Many of the DFI’s involved in Feronia’s dealings have policies and standards meant to prevent their investment in companies/projects with human rights and social injustice issues. Their investment in Feronia Inc. therefore calls into question the effectiveness of private sector regulation, and draws attention the need for better governance of international land deals at the international, regional and national levels.
We strongly encourage everyone to read the report and to build awareness by sharing it within their networks: