27 October 2003, Rome --
Governments, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and
other civil society groups from around the world started a
three-day meeting at FAO today to debate how states should best
implement a fundamental human right, the right to food.
According to international law everyone has
the right to adequate food and the fundamental right to be free
How to translate these
principles into practice is on the agenda of an
Intergovernmental Working Group on the Right to Food, which came
together for its second meeting.
adequate food people cannot go out to work, they cannot care for
their children, their children cannot learn to read and write.
Civil and political rights also become
meaningless for the person who must devote all her resources to
finding enough food to stay alive.
right to food therefore cuts across the entire spectrum of human
The group will attempt to reach
consensus between all the nations present as they draw up a set
of voluntary guidelines which support the progressive
realization of the right to adequate food within the context of
national food security.
The group was set
up following a request made by Member States during the 2002
World Food Summit: Five Years Later.
Individual right, collective
Adequate access to
food is both an individual right and a collective responsibility
under both the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights and
the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural
Rights developed nearly 20 years later.
majority of countries, 147, have recognized the right to
adequate food as contained in the International Covenant on
Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.
21 States have already enshrined food rights explicitly in their
national constitution, while many more recognize and protect
closely related rights, such as the right to an adequate
standard of living, the right to social security, minimum wage
and care for specifically vulnerable groups.
To be able to enjoy the right to food people need
access to health care and education, respect for cultural
values, the right to own property and the right to organize
themselves economically and politically.
Ensuring the right to food involves many factors,
opportunities for earning income, in particular employment;
access to land, water and financial
market systems, complemented by social safety
food safety and
guidelines are intended to provide governments with a practical
instrument to implement the right to food for their population
and to fulfil a basic obligation to their peoples.
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