The Right to Food

A landmark commitment

The Voluntary Guidelines to support the Progressive Realization of the Right to Food in the context of national food security are a practical tool to help implement the right to adequate food, which are founded on human rights principles.

They were endorsed by the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) at its 30th Session and adopted by FAO Council in November 2004, after two years of intergovernmental negotiations that counted with the relevant participation of civil society.

While they are not legally binding as such, they provide policy recommendations to States and other stakeholders on relevant issues, including access to natural resources, education, legislation and markets.

Political legitimacy of a right to food strategy is strengthened when all relevant stakeholders are involved in the design, implementation and monitoring phases. Thus, the Guidelines are a valuable document for any individual or institution that works on food security and nutrition.


The Right to Food Guidelines address a range of activities that States should ideally undertake in order to realise the human right to adequate food. They are divided into three sections.

The first section explains the objective of the Guidelines and refers to relevant international instruments, and explains what the right to adequate food and the achievement of food security mean.

Section two deals with creating an enabling environment for the implementation of the right to adequate food, assistance and accountability mechanisms and outlines the nineteen Guidelines, identifying a wide range of components integral to the realisation of the right to adequate food.

The third section refers to commitments that States, relevant international organisations and other stakeholders should make towards the fulfilment of the human right to adequate food, and to a range of actions they should undertake to meet those commitments.

A pathway towards the 2030 Agenda

Since the adoption of the Right to Food Guidelines, stakeholders, and particularly States, have made great strides in designing, developing and monitoring measures geared towards the realization of the right to adequate food.

The Guidelines anticipated the urgency to address today's most pressing global challenges, which requires to be overcome by leaving no one behind. They have influenced the global agenda to eradicate hunger and malnutrition over the past 15 years and are still relevant to today’s global efforts for achieving the SDGs. They claim to prioritize the most vulnerable, not just the needs but their entitlements, which should be appropriately met through the responsability and accountability of duty-bearers.



The Right to Food Guidelines represented the first attempt by governments to interpret an economic, social and cultural right and recommend actions to be undertaken for its realization.

The Guidelines have contributed to make notable progress towards achieving the 2030 Agenda.

The realization of the right to adequate food is an overarching goal of a variety of policy instruments that resulted from the commitment at the time of the adoption of the Right to Food Guidelines.

The main difference between the right to food and food security is the legal dimension: food security is acknowledged as a right and cannot betreated as a non-binding policy goal.

The 15th anniversary of the adoption of the Right to Food Guidelines was marked in 2019.

States can request to FAO the translation of the Guidelines in their official language.

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