Sorry, you need to enable JavaScript to visit this website.

Forum global sur la sécurité alimentaire et la nutrition • Forum FSN

Re: Invitation to an open discussion on the political outcome document of the ICN2

Liv Elin Torheim
Liv Elin TorheimOslo and Akershus University College/Norwegian Network for Global NutritionNorway

This comment is submitted on behalf of the Norwegian Network for Global Nutrition, which is a network of academics and NGOs in Norway. A list of the persons and organizations behind this statement is included in the attached document. We thank for the opportunity to participate in the process of developing the zero draft of the political outcome document of the ICN2. Below are our general comments, whereas specific comments are attached.

  1. Nutrition is higher on the global agenda than ever before in history. The ICN2 needs to be a place to convene, harmonize, strengthen and advance the constructive forces at work, and be a “leading star”. To achieve this, we believe the commitments described in the policy document need to be extensively based on previous achievements (such as those mentioned below), and all relevant global initiatives and actions need to be considered, in particular the Global Strategic Framework of the reformed CFS which is to be a living annual document, the World Health Assembly objectives from 2012, the Global Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of Non-communicable Diseases 2013-2020, the 1000 days initiative of the Secretary-General’s Global Strategy for Women and Children’s Health (WHO, 2010) and the SUN movement. The only initiative mentioned in the Zero Draft is the Zero Hunger Challenge!
  2. The document ought to be based in an expressed full recognition of the human right of everyone to adequate food and nutritional health and to be free from hunger, as established  and implied in Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) Article 11 (1) and (2) of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights  (ICESCR), Article 24 (c) of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and Article 12 (2) of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). Properly framing the commitments of the ICN2 in a human rights framework will enhance previous achievements in (a) defining the content of adequate food as a human right (called for in the World Food Summit in 1996 and interpreted in 1999 in General Comment No. 12 by the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights); (b) the development by FAO Member States of the Voluntary Guidelines to support the progressive realization of the right to adequate food in the context of national food security (2004); and (c) the decisive integration of food and nutrition as human rights in a range of recent global policy food and nutrition policy and technical documents from the UN and other stakeholders, in particular the Global Strategic Framework on Food Security and Nutrition of the reformed Committee on World Food Security (CFS). Aligning the document to a human rights framework should recall the framework of corresponding State obligations in  general use by the United Nations, many states and civil society (respect, protect, fulfill (facilitate and/or provide), and which helps clarify and contextualize the responsibilities of the State; likewise the United Nations Guiding  Principles on Business and Human Rights (UN Human Rights Council, 2011) reiterates these responsibilities especially that of protect, and the implications for the private sector companies to respect human rights in their activities and relations and internal risk accounting, all pertinent to the performance also of food related companies in diverse food systems. Last but not least the extraterritorial obligations of states, meaning obligations to protect the human rights, including the right to adequate food and nutrition, of persons living within or beyond their national boundaries and, therefore, must put into place effective rules and regulations that ensure that private actors, including transnational corporations, do not infringe upon these rights (Maastricht Principles ref! 23-27). The rights of women in their often conflicting productive and reproductive roles need special attention as can be inspired e.g. by CEDAW and the ICESCR Article 14 which especially focuses on rural women.

Thus the document as a whole needs to be reviewed with a human rights lens, taking into account the key human rights principles of  participation, accountability, non-discrimination, transparency, human dignity, empowerment, and respect for the rule of law in encouraging the design of policies and conduct of interventions.  FAO has particular competence in this area and reference should be made to the Organization’s own record and achievements in developing tools and aids to assist governments and civil society in meeting their right to food responsibilities.

We also believe the various key human rights instruments that are particularly relevant to the right to food and nutritional health need to be explicitly recalled, this because of the high number of Member States that have ratified them and thus are bound by their previous commitments which will be important in the final negotiations. 

  1. We appreciate that improving food systems is highlighted as playing a key role to improving food and nutrition security. Food systems is an important concept but has different meanings for different people and interests. In this context account must also be taken of how different food systems and changes in these affect different groups’ very livelihoods, which will determine the way households access food or resources for food.  It is important that ICN2 adopts a strong stance on what food systems are expected to deliver; in this context we refer as inspiration to the very last report to the Human Rights Council by  the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food,  professor Olivier De Schutter: “The transformative potential  of the right to food”  where he deals both with these expectations for, i.a., poverty reduction, and looks at the way forward  in terms of reshaping local food systems, deploying national strategies and shaping an enabling international environment. (U.N.Doc.A/HR/C/25)
  2. However, we also agree with many other commentators that the document fails to take adequately into account the many other important underlying and basic factors determining nutritional problems. Key underlying challenges include intra-household distribution and infant and young child care and feeding practices which should be reflected in the document; furthermore the need to underline women’s many, often competing, productive and reproductive roles - as food producers and processors,  and in bearing, breastfeeding and taking care of their children, and at the same time often being discriminated and economically marginalized in many societies.
  3. Important basic causes include gender inequality, inadequate access to education and other resources, misuse of resources and corruption, and, as has unfortunately been repeatedly shown in the past and increasingly during the last years – internal conflict, where food even has been used as weapon which is completely unacceptable and a severe breach of the human right to adequate food.
  4. The key term “malnutrition” is not used consistently throughout the draft. Consider revising with clear use of the terms undernutrition and malnutrition (as referring to both under- and over-).