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. Moreover, while not exhaustive, a fifth category exists for provisions that do not fall under the stated categories, but are nonetheless pertinent for 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 and development. 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. Finally, it should be noted that protection of related rights, such as the right to work or the right to social security is not counted as implicit protection of the right to food under this methodology and rather fall under the “Other relevant provisions” category.

c. Provisions that explictly recognize the right to food or standards of nutrition 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. For the sake of this tool, a narrow interpretation was used and only provisions that explicitly recognize the right to food or standards of nutrition were included. Broader Directive principles that have an impact on the realization of the right to food appear under the “Other relevant provisions” category.

 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. In the tool, all provisions related to international instruments are grouped under this category.

e. Other pertinent provisions for the realization of the right to adequate food.

Given the methodology used to categorize implicit protections and Directive principles of State policy, relevant provisions that do not fall under the two aforementioned categories can be found here. It is worth noting that this category is not an exhaustive list of relevant provisions that fall outside the scope of the other categories, as the interpretation of such provisions are specific to each national context.

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