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Re: Call for experiences and good practices in the use and application of the Voluntary Guidelines for the Right to Adequate Food in the Context of National Food Security

Simon Blondeau
Simon BlondeauFAO ESAItaly

Title of the experience   

The Right to Food around the Globe

Geographical coverage

Global

Country(ies)/Region(s) covered by the experience

194 FAO member states

Your affiliation

FAO

How have the VGRtF been used in your context? Which specific guidelines of the VGRtF was most relevant to your experience?

On the one hand, some of the international instruments that are evoked in The Right to Food around the Globe are presented in the Introductory part of the Guidelines as relevant documents that served as basis for the elaboration of the Guidelines by FAO member states.

On the other hand, Guideline 7 (Legal Framework) and monitoring its implementation served as a reason why The Right to Food around the Globe was conceived and developed. Constitutions represents a key pillar of legal frameworks and are referred to prominently in Guideline 7.

In addition, several other Guidelines deal with specific issues that are captured in The Right to Food around the Globe, more specifically when examining implicit protections of the right to food, such as Guidelines 8 (Access to resources and assets), 13 (Support for vulnerable groups) and 14 (Safety nets).

Brief description of the experience

Filling a void that had been present at global level since the entry into force of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, a collaborative effort led to the development of an online tool (The Right to Food around the Globe) that showcases the current global situation related to constitutional protections of the right to adequate food in FAO member states.

It was seen as important for a number of reasons, among which the necessity to better monitor results of the work on legislative frameworks across the globe. Considering that constitutional protection of the right to food represents the strongest form of national legal protection that a State can ensures, as constitutions are considered the fundamental or supreme law of countries, a tool such as The Right to Food around the Globe was needed in order to make readily and easily accessible such key information to concerned actors. FAO was the natural place for such a global tool, as it falls in line with its mandate as the key global institution working on the realization of the right to adequate food.

The intent was to make The Right to Food around the Globe as user-friendly as possible so that the broadest possible range of actors could have access to and understand the information, whether it be a representative of a NGO who is trying to advance the right to food in his/her country and want to know what is already there nationally or get inspiration from neighboring countries; or a civil servant who is trying to plan a project on food security and nutrition in line with national commitments; or a citizen, who is trying to understand what he/she can rely upon to ensure his/her right to adequate food is realized; or a private entrepreneur who wants to collaborate with a country while being mindful of the country’s obligations towards human rights.

Over a period of two years, a methodology was established based on normative work developed by FAO and its partners over the years, every constitution was researched and analyzed based on the methodology while the pertinent information as well as original documents (and translated versions when available), were introduced in The Right to Food around the Globe, which was launched online on Human Rights Day in 2014. Meanwhile, during CFS 41 that took place the same year to mark the 10 Year anniversary of the Right to Food Guidelines, CFS Member countries adopted a decision text entitled “Right to Food – Ten Year Perspective” (see page 14 for the Decision Box) which reaffirms their commitment to implement the Right to Food Guidelines and strive for the realization of the right to adequate food in the years to come.

Who was involved in the experience?

It was mainly done through an in-house collaboration amongst different divisions of FAO. The documents that are contained in The Right to Food around the Globe are national constitutions of FAO member states.

How were those most affected by food insecurity and malnutrition involved?

As it contains the national constitution of each FAO member state, where applicable, as well as quotes from key provisions that are closely related to the right to adequate food, it offers a tool that any actor can use to further promote and advocate for the right to adequate food of all. At country level, those most affected by food insecurity and malnutrition are directly impacted by provisions contained in the national constitution, as their fundamental rights are expressed and protected therein. As such, The Right to Food around the Globe contains valuable information, especially for CSOs that work closely with those most affected by food insecurity and malnutrition.

Main activities

The development of an online tool (The Right to Food around the Globe) that provides a platform where what is constitutionally committed to on the right to adequate food at the national level can be found. For each FAO member state, anyone can find quotes of relevant articles on the right to adequate food as well as the ratification status of some key international instruments. It thus provides a one-stop site where every national constitutional protection can be found and further explored.

Timeframe

Ongoing

Results obtained/expected in the short term, with quantitative aspects where feasible (estimate of the number of people that have been or will be affected)

A greater understanding of what constitutional provisions currently exist in different parts of the world to provide protection and incentives towards the realization of the right to food. Furthermore, besides providing such an overview and a detailed methodology, it also provides a baseline upon which future work on legislative framework can monitor tangible progress on the constitutional protection of the right to food.

Results obtained/expected in the medium to long term, with quantitative aspects where feasible (estimate the number of people that have been or will be affected)

With the increased legislative work that has been done on the right to food at country level across different regions in the past decade, showcasing key information on constitutional protection for the right to food and different ways with which a broad variety of countries are doing it, may inspire other governments to follow suit. While its primary purpose is to make readily available and easily accessible the information for a broader audience while providing a baseline to monitor the results of efforts towards the realization of the right to food, especially here in FAO, it is possible and hoped that key actors may build on the momentum. Moreover, it could be expanded to include other key facets such as national laws, policies and programmes that directly contribute to the realization of the right to food, which is fundamental to properly monitor results achieved by FAO’s work.

Results obtained – most significant changes to capture

A key change that has happened over the past few years, while not directly related to The Right to Food around the Globe (although reflected in it), is a greater understanding of the role that legal protection of the right to adequate food, and constitutional guarantees more specifically, plays in progressively realizing the right to adequate food. There is less apprehension and misunderstanding in relation to the constitutional protection of the right to adequate food, whether it be through explicit or implicit protections or directive principles of state policy.

What are the key catalysts that influenced the results?

One such catalyst is the amount of awareness-raising and capacity-building on the right to adequate food that has taken place over the past decade. As such, an ever growing number of actors (from a panoply of professional fields) as well as countries have become central actors promoting proactive measures towards the realization of the right to adequate food. Also, dissemination efforts on progresses, such as is done for constitutional protections in The Right to Food around the Globe, have led to a greater understanding of the wide-range of actors involved in the realization of the right to food at different levels.

What are the major constraints/challenges for achieving the Right to Food?

As for The Right to Food around the Globe, while challenges arose during the planning and development phases, a major constraint resides in ensuring that adequate resources are allocated to ensure that it is maintained up-to-date and, possibly, even expanded to include other key facets such as national laws, policies and programmes that directly contribute to the realization of the right to food. This way, it would greatly improve the visibility of key results in advancing the progressive realization of the right to food as well as enhance monitoring efforts towards achieving that global objective that is central to FAO’s mandate.

What mechanisms have been developed to monitor the Right to Food?

The Right to Food around the Globe in itself provides for the monitoring of constitutional provisions at country level in each FAO member state. Hence, it showcases the global situation of a crucial legislative element for the realization of the right to adequate food at country level, which is to say constitutional guarantees that usually represent the highest possible national legal protection that can be afforded.  

What good practices would you recommend for successful results?

In order to undertake a proper monitoring of actions, baselines are required. As such, by developing The Right to Food around the Globe and keeping it updated, the monitoring of tangible legislative actions (such as constitutional amendments or adoptions) can be done, which reflects an important constitutional protection that is provided to the right to adequate food at country level across the globe, while it may be very seldom mentioned or detailed.

Some of its key features are a clear methodology that is easily accessible and based on previous normative work by FAO and its partners, clear information that reflects exactly what is contained in the different constitutions without judgment of interpretation, access to pertinent additional information and tools to facilitate the comprehension of what is presented and detailed, and an adequate amount of consideration for the dissemination of the information as well as resources to ensure its proper functioning over time.

Links to additional information

The Right to Food around the Globe: http://www.fao.org/right-to-food-around-the-globe/en/

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