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An Examination of La Vía Campesina’s Global Campaign for Agrarian Reform

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Progress Report for “An Examination of La Vía Campesina’s Global Campaign for Agrarian Reform: History, Issues, and Successes


The essay will be about the effectiveness of La Vía Campesina Global Campaign for Agrarian Reform, and is tentatively entitled, “An Examination of La Vía Campesina’s Global Campaign for Agrarian Reform: History, Issues, and Successes.” This topic was specifically chosen because it draws on discussion from course material on food sovereignty and agrarian reform, with historical links to colonialism. Inequitable land distribution on the global food industry are discussed to be impact all members in society rather than only affecting the peasants. Links can also be made to the complex relationship between civil society, the state, and the markets, as this specific campaign attempted to influence policy changes and business practice during its prevalence to varying degrees of success. This topic is also relevant as it sheds light on the power relations and inequalities that continue persist within the organization due to a complexity of interests, an important theme in the discussion of civil society as a sphere of actors in development.

Tentative Thesis Statement

La Vía Campesina’s Global Campaign is moderately successful in attaining its goals and addressing inequalities because of its influence over key debates, but limited success in affecting procedural or policy change due to class-related, cultural, and ideological differences between member organizations.

Discussion of the THREE most important academic sources in the bibliography

“La Vía Campesina: the birth and evolution of a transnational social movement”

This source can be used for the first section of the essay, wherein the origins, goals, strategies, and memberships must be described in depth. The main argument of this source is that throughout La Vía Campesina five phases of changes regarding its, goals, strategies, and memberships, it saw constant struggle with the multitude of peasant issues it deals with, due to both pressures from external actors and internal actors. The circumstances in which the Global Campaign for Agrarian Reform was created are described in depth and can also be used to describe what lead to its formation. The associated memberships with this particular campaign and their horizontal and vertical linkages are described with brevity. The various strategies and tactics that La Vía Campesina focuses on through the campaign are illustrated in the section that discusses the movement’s leadership role in calling for collective action for food sovereignty (its third phase). Additionally, this source also contains detailed information on La Vía Campesina’s networks and memberships, such as with the FoodFirst International Action Network (FIAN), and the nature of its relationship to Vía Campesina through the Campaign for Agrarian Reform. Lastly, the source discusses how the paradigm of agrarian reform are redefined within the campaign, which is essential to explaining how the campaign is distinguished from other agrarian reform-oriented movements.

“Re-thinking agrarian reform, land and territory in La Via Campesina”

This source can be used for the second section of the essay, which will go in depth on the development issues that the campaign addresses, which is agrarian reform and the problems associated with neoliberal mechanisms for reallocating resources. The main argument of this source is that La Vía Campesina demands both state-implemented “land reform from above” and “land reform from below” to achieve their goals of comprehensive agrarian reform for peasants worldwide. This source discusses the reason and strategies behind the Global Campaign on Agrarian Reform against market-assisted land reform (MLAR) programs implemented by the World Bank, linking the re-concentration of land to the trade liberalization and privatization introduced by the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT). The source also shows the various and evolving views on the issue of agrarian reform, showing multiple perspectives on how the movement dealt with the issue. Specifically, there is a section on the role of the state in agrarian reform in different regions, and how redistributive land reform cannot be accomplished without a radical shift in policy frameworks. By showing the perspectives of multiple actors engaged in the issue of agrarian reform, the essay can create a more nuanced discussion on how the strategies of the campaign evolved. Lastly, the source links how agrarian reform is linked to the primary objective of La Vía Campesina, which is food sovereignty. This is vital for showing the links between the movement and the campaign.

“La Vía Campesina and its Global Campaign for Agrarian Reform (GCAR)”

This source can be used for the third section, discussing the impacts and levels of success of the campaign in terms of the opportunities and obstacles it encountered throughout its course. The main argument is as follows: while GCAR has made significant influence on broad land reform debates, it has not been able to significantly impact other major dimensions of the issue such as policy reform. It can do so by better integrating campaigns “from above” and “from below” to better strengthen “campaign transnationalization.” It devotes a section to exploring the opportunities that the campaign had for its success, such as the introduction of new technologies and the creation of common meanings and representations to unite member organizations in support of the campaign. This can be added to the discussion of how GCAR achieved varying degrees of success in various regions throughout its network. The differentiated impacts of the GCAR can also be explored through the examination of its influence on key debates, affecting policy, and behavioral changes in target actors. Specifically, the heavier influence of the campaign on policy-framing rather than policy-making is a contentious issue that can be discussed in the essay. The section devoted to the class, cultural, and ideological differences between member organizations can also be incorporated in the essay. Such inequalities between participating organizations can be highlighted as an obstacle to the success of the campaign.


  1. Introduction
    1. Description of La Vía Campesina (LVC) and its position on agrarian reform (Desmarais, 2007)
    2. Thesis statement
  2. Section 1: Description of the movement and campaign, Global Campaign for Agrarian Reform (GCAR)
    1. What are LVC’s origins and goals, and the circumstances that lead to the formation (Martínez-Torres and Rosset, 2010) and (Desmarais, 2008)
    2. Strategies and memberships within LVC (Martínez-Torres and Rosset, 2010)
    3. What are the campaign’s goals, and the circumstances that lead to its formation
      1. GCAR’s five interlinked processes (Borras, 2009)
      2. Memberships on the campaign (FoodFirst Information and Action Network and Land Research Action Network), and how was this organized throughout LVC (Borras, 2009)
  3. Section 2: Development issues it addresses
    1. Agrarian reform, and its evolution as an issue within GCAR (Rosset, 2013)
    2. Neoliberalism and market-led agrarian reform (MLAR)
      1. Neoliberal economists view “free market forces” as the most appropriate mechanism for reallocating land resources, necessarily privatized and decentralized. (MLAR) (Borras, 2009)
    3. During the first few years of GCAR, it mainly fought MLAR and then adopted a human rights framework and alternative vision. (Rosset, 2013)
  4. Section 3: Its impacts and levels of success
    1. Defining success as related to the goals of the campaign, and the ability for it to enact changes in state and market actors
    2. Opportunities for its success: its influence in the global agrarian reform debate (Borras, 2009), (Desmarais, 2007), and (Porta, 2006)
    3. Addressing inequalities outside of the movement: success in lobbying for policy change, influencing behavior changes in target actors (Brem-Wilson, 2016)
    4. Inequalities within the movement: relationships of organizations within and around the world, class, political, and ideological differences (Borras, 2009) and (Edelman and Borras, 2016)
    5. Future of the campaign (Borras, 2009)
  5. Conclusion (restatement of the thesis)


  • Borras, S. M. (2009). La Vía Campesina and its Global Campaign for Agrarian Reform. Transnational Agrarian Movements Confronting Globalization, 91-121. doi:10.1002/9781444307191.ch4
  • Brem-Wilson, J. (2016). La Vía Campesina and the UN Committee on World Food Security: Affected publics and institutional dynamics in the nascent transnational public sphere. Review of International Studies, 43(02), 302-329. doi:10.1017/s0260210516000309
  • Desmarais, A. A. (2007). La Vía Campesina: Globalization and the power of peasants. London: Pluto Press.
  • Desmarais, A. A. (2008). The power of peasants: Reflections on the meanings of La Vía Campesina. Journal of Rural Studies, 24(2), 138-149. doi:10.1016/j.jrurstud.2007.12.002
  • Edelman, M., & Borras, S. M. (2016). Political dynamics of transnational agrarian movements. Rugby: Practical Action Publishing.
  • María Elena Martínez-Torres & Peter M. Rosset (2010) La Vía Campesina: the birth and evolution of a transnational social movement, The Journal of Peasant Studies, 37:1, 149-175, DOI: 10.1080/03066150903498804
  • Porta, D. D. (2006). Globalization from below: Transnational activists and protest networks. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
  • Rosset, P. (2013) Re-thinking agrarian reform, land and territory in La Via Campesina, Journal of Peasant Studies, 40:4, 721-775, DOI: 10.1080/03066150.2013.826654”


Currently, the researcher cannot find sufficient sources regarding the relationship with the campaign and agribusinesses; most sources explore its success and the obstacles it has encountered with the World Bank but not with other market actors helping to implement market-led agrarian reform.

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