SE082 Fighting hunger between rights and inequalities: Too many left behind! How can human rights be used to reduce inequalities and overcome discrimination for achieving food security and nutrition for all?


  • CFS Civil Society and Indigenous Peoples' Mechanism (CSM)

The good news is, that the voices of those social groups most affected by hunger and malnutrition are becoming stronger globally. Member States have recognized this. They made great progress with the UN General Assembly's adoption of the Declaration of the Rights of Peasants and other People Living in Rural Areas in December 2018, and the Commission on the Status of Women adopted important conclusions on rural women and girls in March 2018.

The UN Decade of Family Farming 2019-2028 and its Global Action Plan also provide an opportunity to address the needs of small food producers and food unsecure as well as the structural causes of the disadvantages faced by women and youth in access to land, water and other natural resources. The Global Thematic Event on the Right to Food at CFS 45 provided evidence on the struggles of women, youth, indigenous peoples, small-scale and family farmers, peasants, workers, consumers, fisherfolks, pastoralists, landless and urban food insecure in their territories, capitals and global fora. Many of their key positions, demands and proposals were successfully included in CFS policy outcomes, which aim at fostering the right to food for all, but especially for those most at risk to hunger, malnutrition, and other human rights violations.

The bad news is that most of these very same people at risk continue to be discriminated and excluded from policy discussions, interventions, and the "growth and development" discourse. The promise of the SDGs to not leaving anybody behind does not seem to apply to hundreds of millions of people. Economic and social inequalities grow within most societies, and among countries, generating and reproducing conditions of hunger and malnutrition. As global inequalities continue to grow and perpetuate- across the global south and global north- it is fundamental to reconsider policy interventions that are designed to build "equality"- and how they often contribute to further discrimination and marginalization.

The CFS, the UN Agenda 2030 and the UN Decade of Family Farming could provide an adequate institutional framework where the voices of those left behind are included, where the root causes of inequality and food insecurity should be addressed within the Human Rights Framework. Communities and groups continue to fight discrimination and inequalities by claiming their equal rights: sometimes they are successful, and their voices are heard. But very often, the response is intimidation, threats, and violence. Many of those who fight for their rights, or who fight for the rights of others, face stigmatization and criminalization. In such context, the Side event will discuss the key question: How can human rights be used to reduce inequalities and overcome discrimination for achieving food security and nutrition for all?

Key speakers/presenters

  • Ms. Stefania Tripodi, Human Rights and Economic and Social Issues Section, Office of the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights
  • Mr. Agung Hendriadi, Head of Food Security Agency, Government of Indonesia
  • Mr. Gabriel Ferrero, Director General for Sustainable Development Cooperation Policies, Government of Spain
  • Mr. Shantanu Mathur, Lead Adviser Global Engagement and Partnerships, IFAD
  • Ms. Elizabeth Mpofu, International Coordinator, La Via Campesina
  • Ms. Sofía Monsalve, Secretary General, FIAN International

Main themes/issues discussed 

  • Too many are left behind. The 2019 SOFI states clearly that increasing inequalities are among the main drivers of the dramatic raise of those suffering from hunger and malnutrition.
  • We witness an extreme concentration of health in few hands, 1% of the population concentrate the same wealth of the 99% of the rest of the world. Inequalities are hampering the achievement of the 2030 Agenda.
  • How can human rights be used to reduce inequalities and overcome discrimination for achieving food security and nutrition for all? The CFS Vision points to the elimination of hunger and malnutrition and the progressive realization of the right to adequate food. All CFS policy guidelines and recommendations explicitly aim to contribute to this vision.
  • Why is reducing inequalities essential for advancing the right to adequate food?
  • What are the lessons learned from experiences on the local, national and global levels, especially from the smallholder, women and youth perspectives?
  • How can peasants’ rights and inequalities be addressed within the UN Decade of Family Farming?

Summary of key points

  • Inequalities within and among countries limit economic growth and foster instability (conflicts and social arrest), by rise of food prices, unemployment and unequal access to social services. Inequalities brings to patterns of discriminations. Addressing economic inequalities is necessary but not sufficient to solve poverty which is multi-dimensional and prevent many to realize their human rights.
  • Human Rights offer a magnifier lens to read the power imbalances within societies and understand discrimination and inequalities. They also offer an important normative guidance to address and solve them.
  • Indonesia has developed a legal framework conducive of the Right to Food. To foster the right to food a food law was adopted in 2012, focusing on food availability, affordability and utilization. It is fundamental to fight hunger in the framework of human rights. In Indonesia this approach has led to a significant reduction of poverty rate in the rural areas from 2015-2018. 
  • Inequalities are often even higher in rural areas. These inequalities are forcing the rural youth to migrate and uproot themselves from their communities, to move to cities or overseas.
  • Inequalities are also inter-generational: the 30% of the infant population in Spain are suffering from and increased poverty risk and social exclusion. In Spain, the 2030 Agenda has been assumed by the entire Council of Ministries and is informing in a coherent way Spain’s internal and external policies, guided by the principles of human rights and the fight against the drivers of climate change and inequalities.

Key take away messages

  • The respect, protection and fulfilment of human rights is fundamental for  achieving food security and nutrition.  Discrimination, inequalities, violation of women’s rights, social exclusion and the corporate grabbing of natural resources are obstacles to the achievement of the Right to Food.
  • The Right to Food is an inclusive right, it is linked, among others, to Women’s Rights, the rights to land and seeds, decent work and living wages. If governments address inequalities, including the gender, social, economic and political dimensions in which the inequalities are rooted, they can effectively contribute to the realization of the right to food.
  • Social, political and environmental inequalities need to be addressed holistically and public policies need to have an integral and coherent approach in order to achieve the 2030 Agenda.
  • Small-scale food producers and indigenous peoples need to be active participants in the design of such policies and are at the core of an inclusive rural transformation agenda.
  • The new Report of IPCC on Climate Change and Land underlines the urgency to radically change our food systems, putting at the center agroecological approaches and the fight for social justice and climate justice.
  • CFS has a huge opportunity with the upcoming MYPoW to meaningfully contribute to the struggle towards the reduction of inequalities. Fundamental normative tools such as the Declaration of Peasants Rights should strongly inform this CFS policy work and the activities  of the UN Decade of Family Farming. The workstream on reducing inequalities for food security and nutrition should be a priority for the CFS in the upcoming period 2020-2023. 
CFS 46 Side Event: SE082 Fighting hunger between rights and inequalities: Too many left behind! How can human rights be used to reduce inequalities and overcome discrimination for achieving food security and nutrition for all?


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