Re: The e-Consultation on Hunger, Food and Nutrition Security

Dear Moderators,

 

Many thanks for providing this opportunity for sharing views and contributing to the post-2015 agenda for hunger, food and nutrition security. Please find below (and also attached) contributions by OHCHR.

 

Theme 1:

 

Challenges:

 

The efforts to eradicate hunger and malnutrition in the pre-2015, including MDGs, have been facing several challenges.

 

Firstly, the challenge to ensure equitable distribution of food has not been tackled sufficiently. In 1974, the Universal Declaration on the Eradication of Hunger and Malnutrition recognized that both higher food production and a more equitable and efficient distribution of food as fundamental responsibilities of the Governments. Since then, the world has had enough food to feed its entire population so far, but the efforts have been focused mostly on food production, and not on how to eradicate structural obstacles, such as discrimination and denial of rights, that prevent certain groups of people to access existing food.

 

Secondly, the world has been facing the challenges arising from globalization, including growing demand for resources (such as land, energy, water)  across the borders, intensifying impact of international markets and trades on national food markets, and increasing number and scale of extreme climate events. These are causing food price volatility and harsher competition over resources, resulting in further reducing the capacity of certain groups, smallhold and landless farmers, fishers, pastoralists, urban poor, in accessing and producing foods with disproportionate impacts on women among them. In order to tackle these issues, due attention needs to be paid to strengthening modes of international cooperation and meaningful reform of global governance institutions, processes and policies.

 

Thirdly, re-investment in agriculture has had positive and negative impacts. After the 2007-08 food price crisis, the international community has made steady progress in increasing investment in agriculture, which has been critically needed. On the other hand, a rush of investments in agricultural lands lead to further food and nutrition insecurity of people who lost access to land due to the investments. It would be crucial to ensure that new investments in agriculture are in support of models of agricultural development which improve local food and nutrition security, reduce rural poverty, and preserve the environment and the ecosystems resilience against threats emerging from climate change.

 

Fourthly, the role of private business enterprises and impacts of their activities are intensifying. While States are primarily responsible for achieving the right to food for people in their territories, it is not feasible to achieve food and nutrition security for all without involving the private sector.  While private business enterprises can have a positive and significant role in achieving food and nutrition security, there are concerns over negative impacts certain activities of the private sector actors have had, including on access to resources and productive inputs, food price volatility, food safety, environmental pollution, labour conditions for employers in relevant sectors, violence against people claiming their rights, etc. It would be important to hold business actors account to their human rights responsibilities.

 

Lastly, there has been a general lack of governance, accountability and justice mechanisms at national and international levels through which people can exercise their right to participation and access to justice and remedies in the area of food and nutrition security. Often, people who claimed their right to food or the right to participation faced exclusion, repression, violence and denial of access to justice, freedom of expression and assembly.

 

Opportunities:

While we are facing challenges, there are initiatives and efforts made to tackle such challenges.

  • Efforts have been made to implement the right to food at country level. The right to food is no longer perceived as a rhetoric or theory. Instead, in the past 20 years, concrete efforts to implement it are being made at many countries. For example, the Special Rapporteur on the right to food documented efforts made at country level, both in Africa and Latin America (http://www.srfood.org/images/stories/pdf/otherdocuments/note06-septembre2012-en-v2.pdf, and http://www.srfood.org/images/stories/pdf/otherdocuments/20120620_briefing_note_05_en.pdf)
  • Reform of the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) in 2009 created a new global centre of governance on food security. It has adopted an innovative participatory process, enabling not only States but also civil society, the private sector and international organizations to participate in deliberation of its strategy, policy discussion, standard setting, etc. The CFS has been addressing several challenges outlined above. For example, it successfully developed the Voluntary Guidelines on the responsible governance of tenure of land, fisheries and forests in the context of national food security (adopted in 2012) through such participatory process, and working on principles on responsible agricultural investment, social protection, etc.
  • UN human rights mechanisms have been actively addressing the right to food. In 1999, the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights articulated the understanding of the right to food provided under the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. The Committee has been monitoring regularly the implementation of the right to food at country level through its review of State party reports and constructive dialogue with States. In 2000, the Commission on Human Rights (predecessor of the Human Rights Council) has created a mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the right to food. Since then, two mandate holders appointed under this mandate have rigorously analysed the issues relevant to the right to food, and recommended concrete measures necessary for the realization of the right to food.  In 2007, the Human Rights Council held the first thematic special session focusing on the food crisis and the right to food.  In 2012, the Council has set up an Open-Ended Working Group to discuss a declaration on the rights of peasants other people working in rural areas. Civil society organizations are actively using the UN human rights mechanisms for monitoring the right to food at country level.
  • FAO has advanced in their tools and expertise on integrating the right to food into food and nutrition security. For example, in 2004 the FAO Council has adopted the Voluntary Guidelines to support the progressive realization of the right to adequate food in the context of national food security, a major tool to operationalize the right to food. FAO has also developed a number of tools and methodologies to implement the right to food.
  • Commitments made at the Rio + 20 conference  reaffirmed “the necessity to promote, enhance and support more sustainable agriculture” as well as “the need to maintain natural ecological processes that support food production systems”, and “resolving to increase sustainable agricultural production” globally (A/RES/66/288, Annex, paras. 110-111). The Outcome document also tasks the CFS in "facilitating country-initiated assessments on sustainable food production and food security” (para. 115). These commitments resonate with their commitment for the right to food.

 

Theme 2:

 

What works:

 

  • Experience shows us that to a large extent the success of efforts to address hunger and food and nutrition insecurity depend on whether such efforts are informed by the view of the victims of hunger and malnutrition.

At the national level, appropriate legal and institutional frameworks are essential to: (i) ensure the adequate participation, particularly, of the most food-insecure segments of the population; (ii) identify, at the earliest stage possible, emerging threats to the right to adequate food, by adequate monitoring systems; (iii) improve coordination between the relevant ministries and between the national and sub-national levels of government; and (iv) improve accountability, through the setting of targets, with measurable indicators, defining the timeframe within which particular objectives should be achieved.

  • National parliaments and parliamentarians together with organized civil society groups, social movements and human rights institutions, have played a fundamental role in placing the right to food on top of political agendas.

 

Experiences:

  •  
  • At the regional level, Latin America and the Caribbean have seen positive progress as a result of regional initiatives based on the right to food, such as the Iniciativa América Latina y Caribe Sin Hambre¸ launched in 2005 with the objective of eradicating hunger in the region by 2025, and the Parliamentarian Front against Hunger in Latin America and the Caribbean (PFH).
  • For country experiences, please see the following briefing notes by the Special Rapporteur on the right to food:

From Charity to Entitlement: Implementing the right to food in Southern and Eastern Africa (http://www.srfood.org/images/stories/pdf/otherdocuments/20120620_briefing_note_05_en.pdf)

A Rights Revolution: Implementing the right to food in Latin America and the Caribbean (http://www.srfood.org/images/stories/pdf/otherdocuments/note06-septembre2012-en-v2.pdf)

 

Theme 3:

 

The post-2015 development framework should address the following:

 

  • Aligning itself clearly with States’ normative obligations, including those under international human rights law. This will clarify responsibility of States, including measures they are expected to take, and entitlements of people. This would allow measuring not only outcomes but also means. This would strengthen a basis for accountability of States, not only vis-à-vis donors or the international community, but most importantly, vis-à-vis their people based on the rule of law. The methodology and framework developed for human rights indicators (e.g. see: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Indicators/Pages/HRIndicatorsIndex.aspx) allow linking States’ obligations and realization of food and nutrition security for all, through measuring commitments, measures and outcomes. Already some countries are applying these methodologies and framework to their public policies relevant to food and nutrition security (e.g. Nepal, Bolivia, Kenya)
  • Advancing the three closely-related concepts, i.e., equity, equality and non-discrimination. They should be cross-cutting key principles for any goals/agenda for post-2015. This means that any goals or indicators set should allow for disaggregation to reveal exclusion and inequalities. In particular, it is crucial to guarantee gender equality and place the empowerment of women at the centre of food security strategies, primarily in order to guarantee the right to food of women but also because it is the most cost-effective measure to reduce hunger and malnutrition for all.
  • Ensuring free, active and meaningful participation of rights-holders in designing and deciding on objectives, targets, indicators, and means to achieve goals for post-2015 agenda, as well as monitoring and evaluation of its implementation.
  • Recognising responsibilities of both developed and developing countries, in particular in order to address international factors affecting food and nutrition security, including international markets, trades, investments, environmental protection, biodiversity, climate change, use of resources (energy, water, lands, fisheries, seeds, etc), etc. This angle would be relevant to all ZHCs.
  • Addressing roles and responsibilities of the private sector and States’ duties vis-à-vis activities of the private sector, based on the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. The roles and responsibilities of the private sector and corresponding duties of States should be addressed throughout the food chain, including investments in agriculture and in relevant resources (such as land).
  • Goal and time-frame setting which allow a transformative change, which accommodates long-term change (e.g. for full realization of the right to food), and at the same time fostering accountability and progress in the immediate and medium terms.
  • Ensure coherency and coordination among all goals/issues identified for post-2015 agenda. Likewise, ways to facilitate policy coherency and coordination among actors, institutions and mechanisms to implement such goals at international and national levels would need to be considered. (For example, in order to achieve improved governance and apply a rights-based approach, closer interaction and coordination between the CFS and the UN human rights system may be needed at international level.) 

 

As for ZHC, in addition to over-arching issues mentioned above, which would be relevant to all ZHC, more specific feedback on each Zero Hunger Challenge are as follows:

  1. 100% access to adequate food all year round: Understanding of the concepts such as “access” and “adequacy” of food should be gained in line with the human right to food as articulated by the UN human rights mechanisms. For example, “access” is understood not only as physical access, but also as economic access to food (affordability of food). “Adequacy” of food is understood as being nutritious, safe and culturally acceptable. This challenge should be addressed both through enabling people to produce adequate food for their consumption as well as through decent employment and a social protection system which enable people to afford adequate food without compromising the enjoyment of other human rights.
  2. Zero stunted children less than 2 years old: It would be important, as recommended by the Special Rapporteur on the right to food, that under-nutrition is addressed together with, micronutrient deficiency and overnutrition by reshaping food systems, and through a life-cycle approach. Therefore, means to achieve this target should be defined narrowly, but allow a comprehensive approach to nutrition.
  3. All food systems are sustainable: Need to address challenges of globalization and responsibilities of developed countries, in particular taking into account sustainability of global as well as national food systems. Also, sustainable food systems should be respectful of human rights of people involved, including labour rights of waged agricultural or fishery workers, access to safe and affordable food by consumers, availability of adequate food for future generations, rights of indigenous peoples to their lands, resources, and culture, etc.
  4. 100% increase in smallholder productivity and income: “Smallholders” should include smallhold (incl. landless) farmers, fishers, pastoralists as well as smallhold food processors.
  5. Zero loss or waste of food: Important to address responsibility of developed countries (e.g. food waste at consumption level in developed countries), as well as developing countries.