CL 123/22


Council

Hundred and Twenty-third Session

Rome, 28 October - 2 November 2002

ESTABLISHMENT OF AN INTERGOVERNMENTAL WORKING GROUP FOR THE ELABORATION OF A SET OF VOLUNTARY GUIDELINES TO SUPPORT THE PROGRESSIVE REALIZATION OF THE RIGHT TO ADEQUATE FOOD IN THE CONTEXT OF NATIONAL FOOD SECURITY

Table of Contents



I. INTRODUCTION

1. In the Declaration adopted at the World Food Summit: five years later (WFS:fyl) in June 2002, the Heads of State and Government reaffirmed "the right of everyone to have access to safe and nutritious food" and invited −

"…the FAO Council to establish at its One Hundred and Twenty-third session an Intergovernmental Working Group, with the participation of stakeholders, in the context of the WFS follow-up, to elaborate, in a period of two years, a set of voluntary guidelines to support Member States' efforts to achieve the progressive realisation of the right to adequate food in the context of national food security; we ask the FAO, in close collaboration with relevant treaty bodies, agencies and programmes of the UN system, to assist the Intergovernmental Working Group, which shall report on its work to the Committee on World Food Security." (operative paragraph 10)

2. Thus, the Council is invited, at its present session, to establish a working group that: (i) should be intergovernmental in nature; (ii) should develop voluntary guidelines aiming at the progressive realization of the right to adequate food, in the context of national food security, within two years following its creation; (iii) should perform its mandate with the participation of stakeholders; and (iv) should report on its work to the Committee on World Food Security. In addition, FAO is asked to assist the Intergovernmental Working Group (IGWG), in close collaboration with relevant institutions of the UN system.

3. The purpose of this paper is to briefly review the background on the right to adequate food and to present proposals for the structure and operating methods of the Intergovernmental Working Group, with a view to facilitating the Council’s work.

II. BACKGROUND

The Right to Adequate Food in Human Rights Instruments

4. "Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food …" In these terms, the right to food was first proclaimed in 1948 in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (article 25). The right to food was further codified by the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in 1966. Under article 11 paragraph 1, the right to food is reaffirmed as part of an adequate standard of living, and under article 11 paragraph 2, the fundamental right of freedom from hunger enjoys separate recognition. A number of other human rights instruments, listed in Annex 3, are also of relevance to the right to food.

 


Article 11 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

1. The States Parties to the present Covenant recognize the right of everyone to an adequate standard of living for himself and his family, including adequate food, clothing and housing, and to continuous improvement of living conditions. The States Parties will take appropriate steps to ensure the realization of this right, recognizing to this effect the essential importance of international co-operation based on free consent.

2. The States Parties to the present Covenant, recognizing the fundamental right of everyone to be free from hunger, shall take, individually and through international co-operation, the measures, including specific programmes, which are needed:

     (a) to improve methods of production, conservation and distribution of food by making full use of technical and scientific knowledge, by disseminating knowledge of the principles of nutrition and by developing or reforming agrarian systems in such a way as to achieve the most efficient development and utilization of natural resources;

     (b) taking into account the problems of both food-importing and food-exporting countries, to ensure an equitable distribution of world food supplies in relation to need.
 

The Right to Adequate Food in the World Food Summit Declaration and Plan of Action

5. In the Rome Declaration adopted at the World Food Summit in 1996, the Heads of State and Government reaffirmed "the right of everyone to have access to safe and nutritious food, consistent with the right to adequate food and the fundamental right of everyone to be free from hunger." They pledged their political will and shared commitment to ensuring that all people, at all times, have physical and economic access "to sufficient, nutritionally adequate and safe food," with an "immediate view to reducing the number of under-nourished people to half their present level no later than 2015."

6. 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 of everyone to be free from hunger, as stated in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and other relevant international and regional instruments.", as well as for particular attention to be given to the "implementation and full and progressive realization of the right to adequate food as a means of achieving food security for all." It further called for the proposal of ways to implement and realize this right, "taking into account the possibility of formulating voluntary guidelines for food security for all."

General Comment 12 on the Right to Adequate Food

7. The content of the right to adequate food has been clarified in General Comment 12, adopted in 1999 by the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the treaty body for the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. 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." This implies the "availability of food in a quantity and quality sufficient to satisfy the dietary needs of individuals, free from adverse substances, and acceptable within a given culture," and the "accessibility of such food in ways that are sustainable and that do not interfere with the enjoyment of other human rights." The General Comment identifies and elaborates on three types or levels of obligation imposed on States Parties to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, namely the duties to respect, to protect and to fulfil the right to food.

Other Initiatives Related to the Right to Adequate Food

8. The Commission on Human Rights has annually since 1997 reaffirmed that hunger constitutes an outrage and a violation of human dignity, and mandated the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to work on implementation of Objective 7.4 of the WFS Plan of Action. In this context, the Office of the High Commissioner has convened three expert consultations, the first on the content of the right to food (1997), the second on the role of international organizations (1998) and the third on implementation at the national and international levels (2001). A fourth expert consultation (2003) is expected to focus on the realization of the right to food as part of strategies and policies for the eradication of poverty.

9. In 2000 the Commission on Human Rights established the mandate of a Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food (CHR Resolution 2000/10), who reports to the Commission and to the General Assembly on ways to implement the right to adequate food and on emerging issues related to that right. The Special Rapporteur, Mr. Jean Ziegler, has already submitted various reports in 2001 and 2002, focusing on priority issues for implementation, such as justiciability, the right to food and international trade, water as a human right, and the right to food in international humanitarian law.

10. As part of the preparatory process for the WFS:fyl the government of Norway organized an international seminar on “The Right to Adequate Food: Focus on National Implementation” in Oslo, in April 2002. Furthermore, an international workshop on "Policies against Hunger" was hosted in Berlin, in May 2002, by the government of Germany, in collaboration with the governments of Chile, India, Italy, Norway and South Africa. Both events addressed, inter alia, the right to adequate food in the framework of international and national policies against hunger in light of examples of implementation strategies at the global and country level.

11. Non-governmental and civil society organisations (NGOs/CSOs) have also played an active role in clarifying the content and ways of implementation of the right to adequate food. In particular, they produced a draft Code of Conduct on the Right to Adequate Food in 1997, on the basis of Objective 7.4 of the World Food Summit Plan of Action. Its development was initiated by theNGO Forum which took place in parallel to the World Food Summit in 1996, and subsequently facilitated by three mandated NGOs: the International Jacques Maritain Institute, FoodFirst Information and Action Network, and the World Alliance for Nutrition and Human Rights. The right to food was also discussed at the Regional NGO/CSO consultations held in 2002 in preparation for the WFS:fyl. In its final statement presented to the WFS:fyl, the NGO/CSO Forum reaffirmed participants’ commitment to the right to food.

12. Document CFS:2002/Inf. 7: "Progress in the Implementation of the Right to Food", provides a more detailed review of the subject, and additional documentation of relevance to the right to food is listed in Annex 3.

III. PROPOSALS FOR DECISION BY THE COUNCIL

13. The Council is invited to establish an Intergovernmental Working Group to elaborate, in a period of two years, a set of draft voluntary guidelines to support Member States' efforts to achieve the progressive realization of the right to adequate food in the context of national food security. Assuming that the Council decides to establish an IGWG in accordance with the terms of reference set forth in operative paragraph 10 of the Declaration of the Word Food Summit: five years later (WFS:fyl), other matters that need to be decided by the Council include modalities for the establishment, composition and operation of the IGWG.

14. Since the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) is to be the reporting body for the IGWG in accordance with operative paragraph 10 of the Declaration of the WFS:fyl, it would be appropriate to establish the IGWG as a subsidiary body of the CFS. As such, the membership of the IGWG would be open to all Members of FAO and all Member States of the United Nations, and the IGWG would conduct its business in accordance with the rules of procedure of the CFS. Relevant international and regional institutions, as well as non-governmental organizations, civil society groups, parliamentarians, academic institutions and foundations and the private sector would be invited to participate in the work of the IGWG, in accordance with the criteria governing the issuance of invitations to NGOs for sessions of the CFS. According to these criteria, non-governmental organizations can register as observers, provided that their work is related to the food security mandate of the Committee, is international in character, and demonstrates this through a network of affiliated branches in different countries, or an international board of directors, or both. For the work of CFS, the term NGO is understood to cover all forms of civil society or private sector organizations.

15. As to the mode of participation of members and observers at the IGWG, one option would be that, in accordance with the General Rules of the Organization and common practice at FAO meetings, observers would be invited to speak after members.

16. Another option, taking into account the provision of operative paragraph 10 stating that the IGWG is to be established “with participation of stakeholders” and in light of past experience with similar intergovernmental groups, would be for the Council to decide to invite the IGWG to conduct its meetings in a way which facilitates participation of stakeholders while at the same time making the most effective use of time. Members would be invited to designate spokespersons to present their views and participate in the debate. Similarly, participating stakeholders would be invited to form caucuses and designate spokespersons. Further, it could be convenient for the IGWG to hold at its sessions two types of meetings:

17. In line with the foregoing and based on the indications of operative paragraph 10 of the Declaration of the WFS:fyl, a draft for decision concerning the establishment of the IGWG is given in Annex1 for consideration by the Council. The Council is invited:

  1. to establish an Intergovernmental Working Group for the purposes spelled out in operative paragraph 10 of the Declaration of the WFS:fyl, subject to the availability of extra-budgetary resources consistent with the budgetary implications shown in Annex 2;
     
  2. to adopt a decision based on the draft contained in Annex 1, in which the option presented in paragraph 16 above is presented in square brackets, pertaining to the terms of reference, criteria for membership and stakeholder participation, methods of work, organisational structure, calendar of meetings and consultations, reporting requirements and servicing arrangements for the IGWG; and
     
  3. to appoint a Bureau for the IGWG consisting of a chair and six vice-chairs.

 

ANNEX 1

DRAFT COUNCIL DECISION FOR THE ESTABLISHMENT OF THE INTERGOVERNMENTAL WORKING GROUP

Establishment and Terms of Reference

1. Within the context of the World Food Summit (WFS) follow-up and in line with operative paragraph 10 of the Declaration of the World Food Summit: five years later (WFS:fyl), an Intergovernmental Working Group (IGWG) is hereby established to elaborate, in a period of two years, a set of draft voluntary guidelines to support Member States' efforts to achieve the progressive realization of the right to adequate food in the context of national food security, and to report on its work to the Committee on World Food Security (CFS).

2. The IGWG will be established as a subsidiary body of the CFS and will conduct its business in accordance with the rules of procedure of the CFS.

Membership

3. Membership in the IGWG will be open to all Members of FAO and all Member States of the United Nations.

Stakeholder Participation

4. Relevant international and regional institutions, as well as non-governmental organizations, civil society groups, parliamentarians, academic institutions and foundations and the private sector will be invited to participate in the work of the IGWG, in accordance with the criteria governing the issuance of invitations to NGOs for sessions of the CFS. According to these criteria, non-governmental organizations can register as observers, provided that their work is related to the food security mandate of the Committee, is international in character, and demonstrates this through a network of affiliated branches in different countries, or an international board of directors, or both. For the work of CFS, the term NGO is understood to cover all forms of civil society or private sector organizations.

[Method of Work*

5. To make effective use of the time, Members will be invited to designate spokespersons to present their views and participate in the debate. Similarly, participating stakeholders will be invited to form caucuses and to designate spokespersons.

6. At meetings of the IGWG, or of any subsidiary bodies that it may create, which are convened to present views and conduct open debate, stakeholders will participate fully in the discussions. Any Member or participating stakeholder wishing to express views will be requested to submit a written statement for compilation and distribution as a reference document.

7. At meetings of the IGWG, or of any subsidiary bodies that it may create, that are convened to decide on elements for inclusion in the draft voluntary guidelines, only Members will have the right to make decisions. Members will be invited to designate two spokespersons from each Region. The IGWG may also, at its discretion, invite participating stakeholders to designate one or two spokespersons to speak as observers.]

Organization

8. The IGWG will have a Bureau consisting of a chair and six vice-chairs. The Bureau will be appointed by the Council at its One Hundred Twenty-third Session. In consultation with the Director General, it will decide on arrangements for convening each session of the IGWG and for convening any subsidiary bodies or other inter-sessional meetings that may be called for by the IGWG. The Bureau will liaise with the FAO Secretariat when the IGWG is not in session.

Calendar

9. Given its timeframe, the IGWG may hold up to three sessions, two in 2003 and one in 2004. At the first session, which could take place in March 2003, Members and stakeholders will present views and proposals as to the elements of the draft voluntary guidelines on the progressive realization of the right to adequate food within the context of national food security. At subsequent sessions, which could be held in September 2003, and in February or March 2004, the IGWG will hold meetings to continue the open debate as well as meetings to make decisions on the elements to be included in the draft voluntary guidelines, and to finalise the draft.

10. In addition to those sessions, the IGWG or its Bureau may decide, in consultation with the Director General, to hold other consultations or meetings, as needed and feasible within time and budget possibilities. Such consultations or meetings could be specialized, thematic and/or regional, as required.

Reporting Requirements

11. The CFS, the reporting body for the IGWG, is scheduled to hold regular sessions in May 2003 and September 2004. In view of this timing, the IGWG will report on its work at those two sessions of the CFS. Subsequently, the CFS will report on the work of the IGWG to the Council at its One Hundred and Twenty-seventh session (Fall 2004). The Council will then consider that report and take any decisions that might be required.

Servicing Arrangements

12. As requested in operative paragraph 10 of the Declaration of the WFS:fyl, FAO is to provide assistance to the IGWG, in close collaboration with relevant treaty bodies, agencies and programmes of the UN system. The provision of such assistance will involve internal organizational arrangements, including the setting up of an ad hoc unit within FAO’s Economic and Social Department to service the IGWG and to support its work.

13. FAO will work closely with relevant UN bodies, in particular the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, as well as the two Rome-based food agencies, IFAD and WFP. FAO will also invite other relevant institutions of the UN system and treaty bodies to collaborate in assisting the IGWG, on the basis of their respective mandates.

14. In preparation for the first session of the IGWG and in view of the development of the draft voluntary guidelines, FAO will invite its Members and Member States of the United Nations, as well as relevant stakeholders, to submit written comments and views, including proposals for elements for possible inclusion in the draft voluntary guidelines. Submissions received at least 10 days in advance of the session will be made available to the IGWG in the language in which they are received. Following the first session of the IGWG, draft elements for a set of draft voluntary guidelines will be assembled in accordance with a method to be determined by IGWG, to serve as a basis for the further development of such guidelines.

________________
* See paragraph 16 above.

 

ANNEX 2

RESOURCE IMPLICATIONS

1. The costs for FAO’s assistance to the IGWG will entail staff, consultancy, travel and general operating costs, while the costs associated with the work and operation of the IGWG will involve interpretation, documentation and other meeting and consultation costs, including support for developing country participation.

2. In this regard, it should be noted that the current Programme of Work and Budget does not include any provision to cover costs for the work of the IGWG. However, it is anticipated that initial core funding will be provided by the Government of Germany, and a provisional project document has been submitted to it based on that assumption. Once made available, the German funding will cover the Core Budget shown in paragraph 3 below (second column), which provides for up to 9 days of IGWG sessions, and core staff and operating costs for the ad hoc unit. A Full Budget, covering more working days for the IGWG, developing country participation, additional meetings and consultations, and a larger consultancy and travel budget would require additional extra-budgetary resources, which are currently being sought. In addition, on-going activities of FAO related to rights-based approaches to food security will continue and reinforce the IGWG work programme.

3. Estimated budgets for Core and Full funding scenarios are shown below.

Core Budget (US$)

Full Budget (US$)

Total estimated costs for the work of the IGWG

300,000

950,000

  • IGWG sessions (meetings and documentation)
  • Other consultations and meetings (notional estimate)

300,000
(three 3-day sessions)
(……..)

450,000
(three 5-day sessions)
500,000

Total estimated costs for the ad hoc unit

320,000

600,000

  • 22 months of P-5
  • 22 months of UNHCHR officer*
  • 11 months of P-2 (APO)**
  • 11 months of secretary
  • 11 months of clerical services
  • Consultancy services
  • Travel costs
  • General operating costs

240,000
(under discussion)
(already funded)
45,000
(……...)

10,000
25,000

240,000
(under discussion)
(already funded)
45,000
45,000
 160,000
  55,000
  55,000

Project servicing costs (6%)

37,200

93,000

Estimated costs for developing country participation

 30,000
(initial fund)

300,000 (full fund – two persons from each region)

GRAND TOTAL

687,200

1,943,000

 

*The modalities, including funding arrangements, for the secondment of an officer from UNHCHR are under discussion with UNHCHR.

**Services of an FAO Legal Officer (APO, funded by the Government of Germany) provided on a half-time basis.

 

ANNEX 3

LIST OF SELECTED DOCUMENTS AND LINKS RELEVANT TO THE RIGHT TO ADEQUATE FOOD

Declarations of FAO Conferences
Declaration of the World Food Summit: five years later (operative paragraph Nr. 10), 2002
http://www.fao.org/DOCREP/MEETING/004/Y6948E.HTM
Rome Declaration on World Food Security, 1996
http://www.fao.org/Legal/rtf/public-e.htm
World Food Summit Plan of Action (Objective 7.4), 1996
http://www.fao.org/docrep/003/w3613e/w3613e00.htm#PoA
 

International Conventions and Other Major Instruments

Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Article 25, paragraph 1), 1948
http://www.unhchr.ch/udhr/index.htm
International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (Article11), 1966
http://www.unhchr.ch/html/menu3/b/a_cescr.htm
Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (Article 12, paragraph 2), 1979
http://www.unhchr.ch/html/menu3/b/e1cedaw.htm
Convention on the Rights of the Child (Article 24 and 27), 1989
http://www.unhchr.ch/html/menu3/b/k2crc.htm
 

Other Documents

General Comment No.12, Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights,
E/C.12/1999/5, 12 May 1999
http://www.fao.org/Legal/rtf/cescr-e.htm
International Code of Conduct on the Human Right to Adequate Food,
Draft prepared by the Food First Information and Action Network (FIAN), the World Alliance for Nutrition and Human Rights (WANAHR) and the International Jacques Maritain Institute and endorsed by more than 800 NGOs, 1997
http://www.fian.org/
Commission on Human Rights, Summary of the First Expert Consultation on the Right to Food
E/CN.4/1998/21, 15 January 1998
http://www.unhchr.ch/Huridocda/Huridoca.nsf/TestFrame/be3725ce9033fb35c1256605005168b4?Opendocument
Sub-Commission on Promotion and Protection of Human Rights, Report updating the study on the right to food prepared by Mr. Asbjrn Eide
E/CN.4/Sub.2/1998/9, 29 June 1998
http://www.unhchr.ch/huridocda/huridoca.nsf/fb00da486703f751c12565a90059a227/2430d424e0ec0d3a802566520037f268?OpenDocument
Commission on Human Rights, Report of the Second Expert Consultation on the Right to Food
E/CN.4/1999/45, 20 January 1999
http://www.unhchr.ch/Huridocda/Huridoca.nsf/TestFrame/f3feb03551bfdb6c8025673800383b11?Opendocument
Commission on Human Rights, Report of the Third Expert Consultation on the Right to Food
E/CN.4/2001/148, 30 March 2001
http://www.unhchr.ch/huridocda/huridoca.nsf/AllSymbols/5E778041C2EAF5ADC1256 A29002995E6/$File/G0112339.pdf?OpenElement
Report by Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Mr. Jean Ziegler, submitted in accordance with Commission on Human Rights resolution 2000/10
E/CN.4/2001/53, 7 February 2001
http://www.righttofood.org
Preliminary Report of the Special Rapporteur of the Commission on Human Rights on the Right to Food, Jean Ziegler, to the 2001 UN General Assembly
A/56/210, 23 July 2001
http://www.righttofood.org 
Report by the Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Mr. Jean Ziegler, submitted in accordance with Commission on Human Rights resolution 2001/25
E/CN.4/2002/58, 10 January 2002
http://www.righttofood.org
  Addendum: Mission to Niger Report
E/CN.4/2002/58/Add.1, 23 January 2002
http://www.righttofood.org
Mary Robinson, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights: The Right to Food: Achievements and Challenges,
Report at the World Food Summit: five years later, 2002
http://www.unhchr.ch/html/menu2/WFS.doc
 

Publications

Borghi/Postiglione Blommestein (eds.), For an Effective Right to Adequate Food, Fribourg 2002
FAO, The Right to Food in Theory and Practice, Rome 1998
http://www.fao.org/Legal/rtf/public-e.htm
Extracts from International and Regional Instruments and Declarations, and other Authoritative Texts Addressing the Right to Food
FAO Legislative Study No. 68, 1999
http://www.fao.org/Legal/rtf/public-e.htm
Food Policy, Special Issue on Nutrition and Human Rights, Volume 21, 1996
 

Links:

Homepage of the Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food
http://www.righttofood.org/
United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights – Right to Food
http://www.unhchr.ch/html/menu2/i2ecortf.htm
International Project on the Right to Food in Development
http://www.nutrition.uio.no/IPRFD/introduction.html
Seminar on the Right to Adequate Food: Focus on National Implementation", Oslo, 2002
http://www.nutrition.uio.no/IPRFD/Norwayseminar.htm
International Workshop “Policies Against Hunger”, Berlin 2002
http://www.verbraucherministerium.de/workshop-615/index.html
FIAN - FoodFirst International Action Network - for the human right to feed oneself
http://www.fian.org
Further links can be found on FAO’s Right to Food homepage:
http://www.fao.org/Legal/rtf/rtfood-e.htm