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Right to Food

Enough food is produced to feed everyone – however over 820 million people are currently suffering from chronic hunger. Every woman, man and child has the right to adequate food.

Working to realize the fundamental right to adequate food.

FAO promotes a cross-cutting human rights-based approach to food security and nutrition that strengthens legal, policy and institutional environments. It is the key to tackle the root causes of hunger and malnutrition and to achieve zero hunger.

Freedom from hunger is a constitutional objective of FAO. In 2004, FAO Member Nations adopted the Voluntary Guidelines to support the progressive realization of the right to adequate food in the context of national food security.

FAO encourages countries to implement the Voluntary Guidelines by: developing methodologies and analytical tools; assisting in the formulation, implementation and monitoring of policies and programmes; promoting global and regional governance of food security and nutrition and facilitating partnerships.

Key policy messages

·        The right to adequate food is a legal obligation under international law. First recognized as a human right in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Article 25) in 1948, there are now 169 States Parties (as of May 2019) to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. This is a binding agreement, which provides a legal guarantee for the fundamental right to be free from hunger as well as the progressive realization of the right to adequate food (Article 11).

·        Governance is improved by enhancing stakeholders dialogue and coordination mechanisms. Better and more coherent policies are achieved through inclusive and transparent processes. In this sense, empowering right-holders and ensuring their meaningful participation throughout processes contribute to increased accountability and transparency.

·        Addressing the underlying causes of hunger requires periodic assessments of human rights standards and principles, policies, programmes and laws to provide decision-makers with evidence-based support.

·        The effectiveness and efficiency of public expenditure on food and nutrition security is improved due to increased capacity of government representatives, parliamentarians and civil society in budget analysis and expenditure tracking. The Right to Food Guidelines offer concrete guidance to promote a set of human rights principles in policy processes through: participation, accountability, non-discrimination, transparency, human dignity, empowerment and rule of law.

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