THE RIGHT TO FOOD
This event is open to participants attending the World Food Summit: five years later, who are invited to discuss ways in which the right to adequate food and the fundamental right to be free from hunger can be implemented, in the light of the Declaration adopted by the Summit, the International Alliance Against Hunger.
Opening: H.E. Robert Woonton, Prime Minister of Cook Islands
Objective 7.4 of the World Food Summit Plan of Action called for the clarification of the content of the right to adequate food and the fundamental right to be free from hunger, as stated in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and other relevant international and regional instruments, and for particular attention to be given to implementation and full and progressive realization of this right as a means of achieving food security for all.
The content of the right to adequate food has been clarified in General Comment No. 12 adopted by the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in 1999. According to the Comment, the right to adequate food is realized when every man, woman and child, alone or in community with others, have physical and economic access at all times to adequate food or means for its procurement. States have a core obligation to take the necessary action to mitigate and alleviate hunger, even in times of natural or other disasters.
The Comment identifies three types or levels of obligation imposed on States Parties to the International Covenant, namely the obligations to respect, to protect and to fulfil. While obligations under the Covenant fall on States Parties, all members of society have responsibilities in the realization of the right to adequate food, and the State should provide an environment that facilitates implementation of these responsibilities.
In this context, the Comment referred to the need for a code or codes of conduct jointly agreed by the government and civil society. The Comment gives guidelines for implementation at the national level, including the adoption of national strategies, the formulation of policies and corresponding benchmarks, and the formulation of national framework legislation.
While the international community has frequently reaffirmed the importance of the full respect for the right to adequate food, the Comment noted that a disturbing gap still exists between the standards set out in the Covenant and the situation prevailing in many parts of the world.
In Objective 7.4, the World Food Summit Plan of Action also called for the proposal of ways to implement and realize the right to adequate food as a means of achieving the commitments and objectives of the World Food Summit, taking into account the possibility of formulating voluntary guidelines for food security for all.
The International Alliance Against Hunger adopted by the World Food Summit: five years later invites the FAO Council to establish an Intergovernmental Working Group, with the participation of stakeholders, to elaborate a set of voluntary guidelines to support Member States' efforts to achieve the progressive realization of the right to adequate food. FAO, in close collaboration with treaty bodies, agencies and programmes of the UN system, is asked to assist the Working Group, which is to report to the Committee on World Food Security within two years.
In the light of the above, participants may wish to consider, inter alia, the following issues: