UN rapporteur pushes for legally binding right to food

Paul Mobbs mobbsey at gn.apc.org
Sun Oct 27 08:11:02 GMT 2013

The UN rappoeteur's report is on-line at



UN rapporteur pushes for legally binding right to food

Euractiv, 25th October 2013

Olivier De Schutter, the UN special rapporteur on the right to food, has
told the UN general assembly to press governments to make the once
“forgotten right” legally binding worldwide.

In his report, based on eleven country missions in different regions
globally, De Schutter detailed progress made on the right to food over
the past decade.

South Africa, Kenya, Mexico and Niger have all taken steps to
incorporate rights to nutrition into their constitutions.

A number of South American countries, including Argentina, Guatemala,
Brazil and Colombia, have adopted food and nutrition security laws.

But governments must combine laws with food and nutrition strategies to
ensure real progress on the ground, De Schutter said.

“Treating food as a human right brings coherence and accountability. It
helps to close the gaps by putting food security of all citizens at the
top of the decision-making hierarchy, and making these decision-making
processes participatory and accountable,” he said.

Rule of law

The UN expert further pressed for the right to food to be upheld by the

“Often we labor under the misconception that the right to food is not
like a political right such as freedom of speech.  But economic and
social rights – to food, water, housing, social protection – are just as
real, just as binding, and can be upheld just as legitimately in court,"
he said.

“By further upholding this right, national and regional courts can help
to set important precedents and make the right to food fully
justiciable,” De Schutter added.

In 2012, the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the
Economic Community Of West African States Court of Justice ruled that
Nigeria had violated the right to food of the Ogoni people by failing to
protect their land from environmental damage in the Niger delta.

But the Ogoni, a southwestern group of one million people, has benefited
from strong civil society support. The campaign group Movement for the
Survival of the Ogoni people has previously led large protests against
Shell Oil, the Anglo-Dutch multinational energy company, which is active
in the delta.

The Indian Right to Food Campaign uses social audits and freedom of
information laws to assess compliance with decisions by the country’s
courts, for example the distribution of food and delivery of school

De Schutter said: “Civil society has an indispensable role to play at
every level: driving forward right to food movements, participating in
the design of policies, taking part in monitoring, and developing new
forms of accountability.”


"We are not for names, nor men, nor titles of Government,
nor are we for this party nor against the other but we are
for justice and mercy and truth and peace and true freedom,
that these may be exalted in our nation, and that goodness,
righteousness, meekness, temperance, peace and unity with
God, and with one another, that these things may abound."
(Edward Burrough, 1659 - from 'Quaker Faith and Practice')

Paul Mobbs, Mobbs' Environmental Investigations
3 Grosvenor Road, Banbury OX16 5HN, England
tel./fax (+44/0)1295 261864
email - mobbsey at gn.apc.org
website - http://www.fraw.org.uk/mei/index.shtml
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