RE: Legal developments in the progressive realization of right to adequate food

George Kent University of Hawaii (Emeritus), United States of America

Greetings –

The facilitators for this discussion asked, “Are there any FSN framework laws or sectoral laws where the right to food is an important element, not included in the working paper?”

It should be recognized that there has been little discussion of the right to food as it relates to infants and young children, a vulnerable sector of the population in both low-income and high-income countries.

There is a need to clarify and strengthen the right to food specifically as it applies to children. This could be done through a new Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child that focuses on children’s nutrition. That Convention already has two Optional Protocols associated with it, one on the involvement of children in armed conflict and another on the sale of children, child prostitution, and child pornography. Their forms could suggest a structure for the new Optional Protocol.

The drafters could draw from the many documents that already propose sound principles relating to children’s nutrition such as the World Health Organization’s Global Strategy for Infant and Young Child Feeding and the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes. There are many other relevant documents, now scattered, whose core ideas could be pulled together. This new Optional Protocol would serve as the apex document, setting out important principles. It would help to harmonize the programs of relevant agencies at global and national levels.

In time, another document could be prepared to suggest concrete ways in which national governments could implement the principles of the Optional Protocol, comparable to the Voluntary Guidelines to Support the Progressive Realization of the Right to Adequate Food in the Context of National Food Security.

This approach would place children’s nutrition decisively into the human rights framework. Like other forms of international law, it would establish clear and widely agreed standards, and it would support the formation of strong law and implementation mechanisms at the national level. A new Optional Protocol on Children’s Nutrition, linked to the Convention on the Rights of the Child would help in establishing regulations for ensuring that children everywhere are well nourished.

Aloha, George Kent