FCTC Article 5.3 Wrongly Exclude Farmers from Policy-Making
FCTC Article 5.3 seeks to protect the legislative process from undue influence.
However, the FCTC and individual anti-tobacco organizations have chosen to interpret this article in a different manner and instead entirely exclude certain parties, including growers, from the process and deny them the right to share their views. In addition, the entire process of developing and adopting policy has been closed off from both the public, concerned parties and even the media. During COP6 in Moscow, at its first plenary meeting, the general public and media were excluded with immediate effect.
The FCTC Secretariat has also refused to deal with the World Farmers’ Organisation and excluded it from its meetings. The International Tobacco Growers Association has been refused entry to all public meetings held by the FCTC on the basis that “their activities may not be in line with the aims and spirit of the Convention”.
NGOs and Activists are also promoting the policy of excluding tobacco Farmers from any consultative role in policy development by national Governments on tobacco control. Exclusion of key stakeholders like farmers from participating in the development of regulations on tobacco is a denial of their constitutional and democratic rights to be consulted and heard in the process of the making of laws that will have a direct bearing on their livelihood.
Excluding growers is wrong. Exclusion ignores the benefits of growers’ participation for the decision-making process.Participation from growers brings the expertise, perspective and ideas of those growers affected by the problem into the policy-making process. It also promotes balance, ensuring that the views of one group are not given disproportionate weight and the voice of the growers is properly heard. It also ensures that regulators gain a practical understanding of how a measure will operate once implemented, avoiding unintended consequences and promoting discussion of alternative solutions.
Fair treatment for tobacco growers should be ensured throughout the FCTC process. The farmers of India want to be included and have applied for ‘Observer’ status to the FCTC.
The Government of India should support this application and also support transparency throughout the FCTC process. FCTC Article 5.3 already sets comprehensive practices and should therefore not be reopened and extended in its scope.