Tue, Nov 12, 2013 - Page 9 News List

The right to eat

Right-to-food framework legislation has been adopted in a number of countries, often leading to the kind of participatory approach to policymaking that enables lasting inroads against hunger to be made

By Olivier De Schutter

Right-to-food framework legislation has been adopted in Argentina, Guatemala, Ecuador, Brazil, Venezuela, Colombia, Nicaragua and Honduras. This has often led to the kind of participatory approach to policymaking that empowers the poor and enables lasting inroads against hunger to be made.

In Brazil, for example, civil-society representatives comprise two-thirds of the National Council on Food and Nutrition Security, and thus have the opportunity to influence policymaking at the highest level.

In Mexico — where the right to food was constitutionally recognized in 2011 — an inter-ministerial commission includes 19 government departments and institutions. It is no coincidence that these countries now boast bold social programs that are dramatically reducing hunger among the poorest groups.

Clearly, courts have made a signal contribution to the fight against hunger, by upholding and making fully operational the right to food. Last year, South Africa’s High Court ordered a revision of fisheries legislation to protect the livelihoods of small-scale fishers.

In Nigeria, Argentina and Nepal, the right to food has recently been invoked on behalf of regions and population groups — including indigenous peoples — whose access to food was threatened.

Breakthrough crops, fertilizer subsidies and aid campaigns may grab the headlines, but it is the right-to-food movement that holds the greatest promise for ending hunger. The good news is that its power is only just being realized. With a truly global right-to-food movement now emerging, the best is yet to come.

Olivier De Schutter is the UN special rapporteur on the right to food.

Copyright: Project Syndicate

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