Agricultural Development Economics


The right to adequate food in emergencies
FAO legislative study number 77
Lorenzo Cotula, Margret Vidar
Publication date
This study analyses the normative content of the right to adequate food in emergency situations, examining the provisions of human rights law as well as those of other relevant branches of international law, including international humanitarian law, refugee law, criminal law, economic law and environmental law. Under international human rights law, every human being has a right to adequate food. In the words of the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, this means that every man, woman or child, alone or in community with others, has the right to have physical and economic access at all times to adequate food or to the means for its procurement (General Comment No. 12, 1999). Each State has a legal obligation to take steps in order to progressively realize this right, individually and through international assistance and cooperation, and to the maximum of its available resources. As a fundamental human right, the right to adequate food applies in emergency situations. These are defined here as including both natural disasters (droughts, floods, hurricanes, earthquakes, etc.) and man-made disasters (international and internal armed conflicts).