This Decade document is unfortunately quite disapointing. It has no teeth. It repeats all the old (predictable) remedies and cliches. It is jargony. It too often states the obvious.
4, 38, 54. multistakeholder platforms are taken as a given. Will not more people oppose this? The conflicts of interest (CoI) issue has not been solved...
9. "Leaving no one behind"… You know the quote that says that this is not an accident.
The para also speaks of a "global accountability framework": where is such to be found?
12, 13, 15, 38, 41, 44, 54, 67, 69, 73. “Stakeholder” is used over and over. In many of these places, using rights holders and duty bearers is what is called for.
12. The SUN initiative is mentioned casually…without quoting what some of its detractors object.
13. 31. Speak of CSOs or NGOs as the same. It should say (private interest CSOs (PICSOs). It mentions ”an enabling environment” for HR and the RTF. Only enabling? Isn't it to be the cornerstone?
13. The para only says “management of CoI”. Will we demand stronger language on CoI?
14. Speaks of “an enabling environment” for HR and the RTF. Will we demand stronger language?
16. Cross-cutting area #4 calls for “trade and investment for improved nutrition”. How? Does past experience teach us something?
17. Asks for “fostering policy dialogue…to ensure that solutions are equitable and people-centered”. This is not what the HR framework calls for! Claim holders demand!
19. Paragraph sooo weak..
20. Calls for “strengthening local food production especially by small holders”. This is not what we stand for. Language already a consensus puts central emphasis on small holders.
29. Mentions “nutrient dense foods”. Which? RUTF?
30. This para on nutrition education is sooo weak and naif. Could have been written in the 1970s.
31. “Lead by example” ????
34. Are only “coherence and flexibility” needed??
35. “Achieve global food and nutrition through trade", i.e. “appropriate trade agreements”? What is that?
38. “Multistakeholder governance mechanisms should avoid Coi”. We certainly need stronger wording here.
41. “Member states are encouraged to translate the commitments of ICN2”. Just encourage?? (Then in para 42 there is a call for them to actually commit…. A contradiction).
The mention of SMART here is a gimmick, just for show.
43. The call is “to raise the level of ambition”. Only? Need stronger language?
45. Speaks of a “commitments repository in FAO and WHO”? Would this work and be binding?
47, 48. The call here is for “champions” and “action networks”; seems to me wishful thinking. I may be wrong.
54. “SUN will provide opportunities”? How many years has SUN been on? What to show for?
59. “The Decade will strengthen the capacities at community level as appropriate? Meaning what? Far from what we are asking for re empowering clim holders and duty bearers...
63. Calls for “Evidence-informed advocacy”. What gimmick is that? Does scientific evidence convince politicians?
64. What “visual identity” is referred here to?
69. We read “FAO/WHO will consult with the private sector” …for governance issues? This sentence is in the governance section!! Needs to be deleted. No private sector in governance.
Table 1. Proposes a “reformulation” of foods group. We all know what Monteiro and Cannon say about this giving BIG Food a way to whitewash their image and the public still staying hooked on ultrprocessed foods.
The table also proposes a nutrition sensitive issues group. We all know this was invented as a (bad) substitute for what are the social determinants of nutrition.
Welcome Christine Campeau!
1. The experience from past 'decades' has not been too good. We need to do better --a challenge. Significant difference will only come from public interest CSOs and social movements pushing MS to commit to action plans and then hold them accountable for it on, at least, a year-to-year basis. Changes will NOT come from above... Moreover, it is time we begin talking about food-and-nutrition-security and NOT food security and nutrition...
2. Critical is to refocus the decade on the HR framework clearly identifying claim holders and duty bearers and doing a capacity analysis of what the expected roles are that pertain to both groups. A massive HR learning process will be the only thing that will lead to this. A process of empowerment of claim holders to organize, mobilize and demand needed changes is key. Withouth this, we can anticipate little happening or just token steps 'to keep up with the Joneses' and save face in front of the intl community. Moreover, it is not for us to top-down decide priorities! It is the claim holders suffering violations of their right to nutrition to lead in deciding priority actions.
3. This is a push or pull question. Only pulling from claim holders will move the decade ahead. UN and other intl agencies can do little to push MS to commit. History is clear about this. Forget about private sector actors being involved in empowering claim holders: counterintuitive to them.... This is why so many of us are skeptical about the SUN Initiative with is well exposed conflicts of interest. As said, CSOs have the crucial role in monitoring progress made in the progressive realization of 10 year plans to fulfil the right to nutrition. Annual benchmarks of processes-set-in-motion have to be set so that CSOs can asses progress, stagnation or retrogression on an annual basis with something like shadow reports.
4. CFS, UNSCN and others' (including the CSM) contribution to the decade is very important, BUT along the lines of what I say above. If shy on this, we will be discussing the same shortcomings by the end of the decade.
This is my personal opinion.
Claudio in Ho Chi Minh City
Dear Lucy and Ahmed,
My serious concerns on the matter of this consultation all revolve around question 1.
1. Setting the stage: Why are you interested in Nutrition-Sensitive Social Protection? What is Nutrition-Sensitive Social Protection? What makes a social protection intervention “nutrition-sensitive”?
Your intro piece has, in my view, multiple flaws that will bias the consultation. Let me explain in the form of bullets.
You call for:
Making social safety nets and targeting work better. Safety nets have been designed to throw a crumb of bread to the needy without pulling them out of poverty. So we target ‘the poor’ (grr!) and do nothing about the system that perpetuates their poverty. Ultimately and dispassionately, it is all about avoiding social upheaval that will threaten the haves.
Social protection. To improve social protection, it would be nice to start asking the affected what they think needs to be done, no? This is a fundamental human rights principle… I feel the call may be bringing responses from top-down initiatives around the world which will mostly be localized with little replication prospects.
Stakeholders. (grr!) Isn’t it high time we begin using claim holders and duty bearers instead?
Poverty reduction vs disparity reduction. When will we understand that the challenge is not poverty reduction, but disparity reduction? The pie is only so big; we do not need to make it grow with the same slicing; we must re-slice it far more equitably…. and nutrition-sensitive social protection will simply not do this.
Equity vs equality. You use equity where you should be using equality. Equity is a justice concept; equality is a human rights concept (and nutrition and social protection are HR issues).
Increasing productivity. For God’s sake, we are trying to deal with a HR issue. We do NOT need an economic justification. Nutrition and social protection are a high priority, because HR are being violated. Point finale!
‘Investments in nutrition and early childhood development are therefore (therefore?) key determinants of long term economic growth’. Investing in nutrition is a HR priority, no more, no less. Forget the economic growth justification. Growth for what? for more 99/1? For more depletion of natural resources and environmental degradation and precipitating climate change? We simply have to stop using this fallacious argument.
‘Programs targeted (?? see above) to enhance their impact on nutrition and lock in future human capital’. Ayayay! More of the same…. Human capital is such a neoliberal term. What we need is to lock-in is the respect and fulfillment of, in this case, the human right to nutrition and the human right to social protection.
Activities related to nutrition education and micronutrient supplementation… Nutrition education to teach people what they cannot afford? We have over 4 decades of negative experiences on this. Micronutrient supplementation is a darling of donors….it does not require addressing the thorny issue of the political roots of malnutrition as stunting more does.
I hope this contributes early-on to guide the agenda of the consultation. If this perspective is not brought up in Moscow, we may as well stay in our ivory towers.
Claudio in Ho Chi Minh City
1. In a free-market world economy, Third World countries are not being given the benefits they and their economies need, but rather what-ideologically-motivated-Northern-trade-partners believe they should give them. Conversely, in the local economy, only those who have something to sell --and are not hindered in selling it (!)-- can earn anything from trade.
2. So, when trade rules threaten the right to food of the poor, those trade rules should be challenged on the basis of existing Human Rights Covenants. Therefore, states, independent human rights commissions and/or NGOs should undertake ‘human rights (HR) impact assessments’ of the trade rules the respective country abides by, both during the process of trade negotiations and after negotiations; such an assessment must be public and participatory so as to safeguard people’s and communities’ rights from the avariciousness of commercial interests and patent rights. (AIFO)
3. For the developed countries of the North, free trade means shaping states’ policies worldwide so as to create the environments-most-favorable-to-the-opening-up-of-the-countries-of-the-South-to-globalized-free-markets! It means forcing the hand of these countries to adopt neo-liberal economic policies. The aim here is not really to foster greater democratic participation, but rather state-sponsored market deregulation.
4. This being the case, one can justifiably ask: When creating such ‘favorable’ market environments, has neo-liberalism been able to manage the crisis of the world food system? And the answer has to be a resounding NO. This latest stage of Capitalism has actually not yet shown it can curb the growth of impoverishment in large segments of both the Third and the First World. This fact leads committed HR workers to a very clear path of where the priorities lie. The crude reality of our times has simply led to levels of inequality beyond tolerance.
5. If the context and the framework of our development discourse are wrong, discussions and actions based on the wrong analyses will be like pouring water into a broken vessel; no amount of effort to fill it will be sufficient.
HUMAN RIGHTS AND THE WORLD TRADE ORGANIZATION.
Oblivious to the teachings of history, international free trade is being promoted to the rank of ‘development motor’ as if development would be the same as preparing the population for the market economy. (CETIM)
1. The WTO is driven by a mercantilist philosophy; the focus of what it does is not on the welfare or growth prospects of members. Small, poor countries have little to offer and to gain in the mercantilist WTO exchange. The multilateral-trade-liberalization-drive championed by the WTO has been mainly driven by corporate interests seeking access to foreign markets; the WTO, therefore, is a good vehicle for advancing their interests.
2. It is not that industrial countries need the WTO; their firms can and do obtain access to new markets directly. In fact, the private sector has often concluded that the multilateral system may be good, but is ineffective, so, they use non-governmental routes.
3. On the other hand, it has been estimated that, if all (that is ALL) global trade barriers for the poor countries were eliminated, approximately 500 million people could be lifted out of hunger and poverty over 15 years. (Keep in mind that, if China is excluded, the number of hungry people has actually increased in the last decade. This, despite the right to food being enshrined in Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948 and in the World Food Conference of 1974.
4. As a Human Rights challenge, it is, consequently, more important to advocate for raising income of poor persons than for food self-sufficiency, i.e., raising rural incomes is more important than increasing food production. So, the right to fair social and economic conditions is necessary to allow people to feed themselves (FAO).
6. In addition, and as related, keep in mind that if the debt burden of poor countries were significantly reduced or eliminated as their terms of trade were made fairer, the amount of aid required would also significantly diminish.
7. The worst enemy of developing counties is neoliberalism which means the complete elimination of protectionism. We cannot thus say that if ‘All global trade barriers to poor countries are eliminated, 500 million or more people could be lifted out of hunger’. It is an illusion to think that the problems of underdevelopment are due to trade barriers. Poor countries need protectionism as the air they breathe and, in the developed countries, the ones who suffer most from free trade are the unskilled working classes. The roots of poverty and exploitation are based on the power relations in that country, rather than on world trade.
8. Samir Amin (1985, Delinking: towards a polycentric world. London, Zed Books) has elaborated very clearly the importance of national protection and cultivating South South trading blocks protected from rich world competition. The logic of comparative advantage applies where two countries are at comparable levels of development. Free trade between rich and poor is much more likely to exacerbate the inequalities.
FREE TRADE AGREEMENTS, MILLENNIUM DEVELOPMENT GOALS, AND HUMAN RIGHTS: WORKING AT CROSS-PURPOSES?
Who will live and who will die has already been decided by the economic structures brought about by globalization (P. John)
1. These days, bilateral free trade agreements (FTAs) are totally bypassing the World Trade Organization (WTO). This is because rich countries think that multilateralism is for weak players and is based on long-winded processes with decisions that are typically based on the lowest common denominator arrived at with a one-country-one-vote system. So these rich countries (or the EU) seek their own way through these (often imposed) bilateral FTAs that bypass the WTO. Therefore, WTO critics are, in a way, partly misled when they demonstrate (only) against the WTO in the streets.
2. But, as experience has shown, in FTAs the cost:deception ratio has been high. FTAs pursued by hegemonic powers, despite being nefarious, find developing countries to be complacent, “behaving like animals being blissfully led to their slaughter”. (J. Bhagwati).
3. We cannot overlook the proven fact that trade (as much as foreign aid) is not even an opportunity and certainly not a guarantee. This is true, not only from an economic development perspective, but particularly from the perspective of human rights (HR). (G. Kent) Unfortunately, in the case of aid, if one aid program misses its opportunity to deliver what it promised (whatever its expected impact was supposed to be), the next one is as sure to come along as day follows night; unhealthy donor competition ensures that. This is dramatically seen in current-day aid directed at ‘helping’ poor countries achieve the MDGs.
4. Few people know the MDGs actually comprise only two (of 30!) paragraphs of the full Millennium Declaration --which calls very strongly for democracy and human rights as the route to achieving the stated millennium goals! Actually, despite the fact that paragraphs 25 and 26 of the Millennium Declaration specifically call to apply a HR-based approach, the ongoing Millennium-Development-Goals-drive has become a global action program without such an orientation.
5. Paradoxically, the negotiation of FTAs assumes capacity and political determination at the national level… when the problems we are trying to solve occur precisely because of shortfalls in technical and political capacity at the national level. [It is not, as so often touted, a lack of political will; most of the cases, it is a deliberate political laissez-faire decision of the national leadership in power].
9. As can be seen, much needs to change for trade, aid and the setting of development goals to work synergistically with HR goals. We all need to contribute our own share to progressively make this a reality.
Note: Not being facetious, if we provide sandwiches for all who are hungry in the world on the first day of 2015, will we have fulfilled the MDG of ending hunger by 2015? (G. Kent)
Claudio Schuftan, PHM, Ho Chi Minh City
The political and economic context within which national planning takes place is strongly shaped by economic globalisation and the increasing power of transnational corporations.
There is therefore a need to clearly articulate the dire dangers to food security and food sovereignty in current trade and investment agreements and to point towards the provisions which should be included in such agreements to guarantee food security and food sovereignty of the most needy. In recommendations 17 & 18 of ICN2’ Framework for Action there is no reference, under monitoring and accountability, to trade and investment agreements.
The People’s Health Movement (PHM) is urging WHO, FAO, the UNHCHR and UNCTAD to create a commission to report on the implications of trade and investment agreements for the right to nutrition in accordance with para 25 of UNGA resolution A/RES/68/177.
Mohamed Ajuba Sheriff wrote that working together with SUN could help harmonize efforts of the different ministries and partners involved in FSN policy making.
Indeed, larger initiatives can serve as intermediaries to help you reach policy makers.
Well, the purpose of the recent consultation is policy outreach, no? SUN is an initiative with uncontrolled active corporate inputs. Not too difficult to imagine what type of policies they are likely to be pushing. The many conflict of interest issues in SUN has NOT been resolved and SUN refuses to respond to CS concerns on this. A bogus consultancy was set up with Gates funds that totally misrepresented the conflict of interes issues SUN has been challenged for.
So, Mohamed, larger initiatives yes, but SUN no.
Thank you facilitators for the responses.
Another devil's advocate issue I would suggest be considered:
How many of us (who want to influence policy) do not only work from the bottom up with claim holders, but go to the pertinent decision makers/duty bearers (hopefully together with claim holders) and ask them what policy alternatives they need to make and how we can help with the evidence/info/data they need to promote certain policies they feel are important and politically feasible?
Policy makers often do not respond, because what we want to recommend does not fall within their 'radar'. A need not to neglect to start from the other end here? Maybe not always, but worth trying.
Indeed the writeshops approach captures this idea. Are there other examples?
I refer to your call for case studies on policy outreach and communications for food and nutrition security.
When your call says:
…information is not always used, undermining efforts to improve food security and nutrition.
…how can we improve the uptake and relevance of FSN information for decision making.
…Technical notes, research reports, policy briefs, etc. on food security and nutrition (FSN) are often targeted at decision-makers and aim at contributing to evidence-based policy making. …Their influence remains unclear.
…how info has been used by policy makers and influenced policy dialogue and decisions in your country or region.
the flaw here is that all these ask how these eminently top-down efforts influence decisions. Well, we know they do not! Decision makers know in the back (or front) of their minds what is wrong --and often what can/should be done.. The whole concept of evidence-based is flawed. No evidence will convince politicians to go against what their ideological position is.
What innovative strategies and channels should be used?
Can changed communication or policy outreach strategy get better results?
What should information producers consider when trying to increase the use of their evidence by policy makers?
These are all moot questions. Probably none of the answers will ultimately be of relevance for wide diffusion. Case studies? To what avail? Each will be the exception that confirms the rule...
Why do I have to tell you at FAO –-with a strong right to food working group-- that it is only through the process of empowering claim holders (and duty bearers) to forcefully demand (and abide by their obligations) that will ultimately be more effective than (or have to replace) ‘old thinking’ policy outreach?
You will compile a list of recommendations for making sure the FSN information we produce contributes to evidence based policy making.
I rest my case.
Claudio in Ho Chi Minh City
Dear friends at FAO,
You launched an e-consultation on this new document. Here is my contribution:
1. Do you have any general comments on the draft Framework for Action? Yes I do. Plenty.
· Do you have any comments on chapter 1-2?
The Introduction can be significantly shortened by referring to the Political Declaration where the content can be found already. No need to repeat.
· Do you have any comments on chapter 3 (3.1 Food systems, 3.2 Social Protection; 3.3 Health; 3.4 International trade and investment)?
I feel the introductions to 3.1 through 3.4 again are too wordy and repetitive of the Declaration.Suggest cutting with references to the Declaration.
A framework for action must go more directly to points of action expected of members states and particularly of public interest civil society organizations. Crisp is best.
As regards the priority actions recommended, nothing less than a paragraph by paragraph critique will do justice to the draft 0. It is often totally unclear whom the recommendations are made to... This being a framework for action its recommendations must be more precise --which they are not thus allowing for interpretation and loopholes. We went through that already in 1992!
So I have spent the hours needed to do the para by para review. See attached. Such a detailed analysis I think is needed for the JWG to get a feedback on their own text and to (hopefully) consider amendments.
· Do you have any comments on chapter 4-5?
Chapter 4 is unacceptably not human rights based. To enforce accountability, both rights holders and duty bearers need to understand what accountability is in the context of the right to food. Nothing is said about the massive HR learning that will be needed for this. I have made pointed comments on this in the text itself.
Chapter 5 on recommendations for follow up is weak to the point of only caricaturizing the role of public interest civil society in giving f/u to ICN2; we know little comes from top-down. Moreover, not a word is said about steps towards the progressive realization of the RTF. This is unconcionable in 2014 coming from a document to be backed by UN agencies.
2. Does the Framework for Action adequately reflect the commitments of the Rome Declaration on Nutrition, and how could this be improved?
Difficult for me to say since I expressed in writing my serious concerns about the contents of the Political Declaration in this same FAO forum. (Given the shortcomings of this Framework, I would say, yes, it reflects the shortcomings of the Political Declaration). Improvements will have to address a good number of the critiques that I make and others will be making in this forum. Will the JWG listen? (Our experience with the Political Declaration seems to indicate not).
3. Does the Framework for Action provide sufficient guidance to realize the commitments made?
To me, clearly not --and I point this out in many a place in the attached.
4. Are there any issues which are missing in the draft Framework for Action to ensure the effective implementation of the commitments and action to achieve the objectives of the ICN2 and its Declaration?
Many, many. They can be found in blue font in the attached so they are easy to find.
Dear friends, I do not see why a critique has to be a collection of niceties. With so little time left, I do think that one has to be direct --as much as it may hurt: Calling a spade a spade; asking incisive questions. I just want to assure you that no disrespect is intended from my part when I sometimes use mordent language. I know the JWG has worked hard and I salute them, the question is with what level of in-house expertise on these complicated issues, especially as relates to human rights and the RTF.
Dear friends at FSN,
After reading the documentation posted, I would like to contribute the attached commentary to the e-consultation.
I apologize for it being a bit lengthy since I go into details.
I also apologize for the devil's advocate tone the comment may have in some places. My overall intention is nevertheless constructive.