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Press Release 98/71

FAO STRESSES IMPORTANCE OF THE RIGHT TO FOOD ON THE 50TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS


Rome, 10 December -- The primary responsibility for ensuring the right to adequate food and the fundamental right to be free from hunger lies with the national authorities of each state, according to a publication released today by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). "This applies both to the obligations contained in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and to the commitments under the World Food Summit Plan of Action," adds the booklet.

The publication, The Right to Food in Theory and Practice, commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, examines the many aspects of the "right to food."

With a foreword by FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf and an introduction by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson, the booklet brings together contributions from leading right to food experts and non-governmental organizations with contributions describing the activities of the Rome-based food organizations, FAO, the International Fund for Agriculture and the World Food Programme in implementation of the right to food.

The World Food Summit Plan of Action committed the world's governments to clarifying the meaning of the rights related to food as set out in Article 11 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and how they could be better implemented. It entrusted the UN High Commissioner of Human Rights with special responsibility in this regard, as a means of achieving the goals of the Rome Declaration on World Food Security to eradicate hunger.

The booklet notes that 20 countries have enshrined the right to food in their constitution and in an article by the FAO Legal Office, says:

"The primary responsibility for ensuring the full enjoyment of the right to adequate food lies with the national authorities of each state. This applies both to the obligations contained in the International Human Rights Covenants and to the commitments under the World Food Summit Plan of Action," the publication notes. "In recognition of this primary responsibility, a number of countries have enshrined the right to adequate food, or at least the responsibility of the state in this area, in their national constitutions. As yet, however, no country has adopted national legislation expressly to implement this right. Neither has any substantial work been done to establish how such commitments can be implemented in national legislation."

In the World Food Summit Plan of Action, governments pledged their political will and common and national commitment to achieving food security for all and to an ongoing effort to eradicate hunger in all countries with an immediate view to reducing the number of undernourished people to half its 1996 levels no later than 2015.

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For further information contact FAO Information Officer John Riddle at:

Telephone: 39 06 57 05 32 59
Fax: 39 06 57 05 36 99
e-mail: john.riddle@fao.org

or visit the FAO Website at: http://www.fao.org


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