Report of the Special Rapporteur: The Right to Food (Feb 2008)

Despite government and international commitments to halve hunger by 2015 the number of people suffering from starvation has increased. Women, children and indigenous people are particularly vulnerable to poverty and malnutrition. Hunger should not be inevitable as the world produces enough food to feed the entire population and the right to food should be a basic global human right. Problems lie in a number of areas. A lack of coordination and coherence within state governments and the UN system results in one department introducing policies that jeopardises the right to food. For example, a rights-based approach is undermined by trade policies that have a negative impact on food security. People that are forced to flee from hunger and starvation are not internationally recognised as being refugees or granted protection under international law but are seen as economic migrants and they are returned to the countries that they have come from. The Special Rapprteur urges States to consider a new legal instrument to assist people fleeing because of necessity. Transnational corporations have increasing power and ownership of land and resources, such as water, but only 1 per cent of research and development is spent on crops that may be developed for arid and drought afflicted regions. A growing problem of desertification and land degradation requires global efforts if hunger is to be eradicated. New targets for using renewable-fuel in the European Union have led to a rush for land to be used for biofuels, at the expense of crops for food. The Right to Food Guidelines produced by The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) provide an important step to implementing right to food as part of overall poverty reduction strategies. Global initiatives are challenging current models of trade and market liberalisation to focus on food sovereignty to allow people to determine their own economically and culturally appropriate agriculture, food and land policies.

Download (PDF, 458KB)