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The Right to Food around the Globe

Methodology

Constitutional recognitions of the right to adequate food

The protection of human rights through constitutions is the strongest form of legal protection as constitutions are considered the fundamental or supreme law of the country. To provide a constitutional protection of the right to adequate food represents a strong statement that a country can make in progressing towards the realization of the right to adequate food of its citizens. When looking at a constitution with the intent to underline articles or provisions that may be relevant for the right to adequate food, there are a few specific things that ought to be kept in mind. Although each national situation is unique, for the purpose of uniformity and feasibility, we shall be looking for four ways with which a State can crystallize its commitment to the realization of the right to adequate food.

a. Explicit protection of the right to adequate food or freedom from hunger

Over the last few years, there has been an important increase in the number of States that have adopted provisions containing explicit recognition of the right to food or freedom from hunger. In practice, there are two main types of explicit guarantee: either for the entire population or solely for specific groups (such as children, etc).

b. Implicit protection of the right to adequate food through a few broader human rights

Although this method may be more ambiguous than the first one, there are a few selected human rights that are generally considered to implicitly incorporate the right to adequate food, such as the rights to: an adequate standard of living; well-being; a means necessary to live a dignified life; development; or a standard of living not below the subsistence level. Also, different national interpretations of constitutions can render an implicit protection of the right to adequate food through other broader rights; unfortunately such case by case basis cannot be provided for here.

c. Provisions that provide directly or implicitly for the right to food in the form of Directive principles of State policy

These types of provisions demonstrate a commitment of a State towards the realization of the right to adequate food. In this case, the provisions are understood to be non-directly enforceable by a court and are more in the line of pledges, but they do represent an overarching objective of the State.

d. Status of international obligations in the national legislative order

Whether through the direct applicability of international instruments at national level, through the recognition of international commitments as having the same status as constitutional provisions or through the primacy of international obligations over national laws, these are all important means to further protect the right to adequate food at national level.

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