Home > Policy Support and Governance > Policy Themes > Right to Food
Policy Support and Governance
©FAO/Ishara Kodikara

Right to Food

Enough food is produced to feed everyone, however 815 million people currently suffer from chronic hunger.

Working to realize the fundamental right to food.

The right to adequate food is a human right. A human rights-based approach (HRBA) to food security and nutrition is key to tackle the root causes of hunger and malnutrition.

Freedom from hunger is a fundamental human right as well as 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 the national food security (Right to Food Guidelines)

FAO supports countries implementing the Right to Food Guidelines (RtFG) by: developing methodologies and analytical tools; assisting in the formulation and implementation of policies and programmes; developing and strengthening the capacities of key actors; promoting sound global and regional governance of food security and nutrition; and facilitating and promoting partnerships and dialogue among different stakeholders.

Key policy messages

·        The progressive realization of 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 166 States Parties (as of October 2017) to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, 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).

·        The Right to Food Guidelines, and subsequent related internationally adopted guidelines such as the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests (VGGTs)  and the Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries (SSF), as well as global frameworks such as the Global Strategic Framework for Food Security and Nutrition (GSF), provide guidance on actions and processes to realize the right to adequate food. They facilitate the design, implementation and monitoring of policy, legal, institutional and programme frameworks at national level.

·        A HRBA helps countries to meet and fulfil their obligations by fostering an enabling environment that enhances peoples' self-reliance and ability to feed themselves in dignity.

·        By prioritizing the most vulnerable and involving all relevant stakeholders at the earliest stages, policies can be more coherent and national efforts more effective, including those aimed at achieving the Goals and Targets agreed upon in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, in particular Goal 2.

·        The Right to Food Guidelines promote a set of human rights principles that include participation, accountability, non-discrimination, transparency, human dignity, empowerment, and the rule of law (PANTHER). Among other things, these principles facilitate feedback and inclusion  that in turn increase the efficiency and sustainability  of policy results.

Featured resources

Share this page