After being approved by popular referendum, the new Constitution of Kenya was adopted and signed last Friday (27 August 2010) by the President. In the new Constitution, the provision related to the right to food is of particular importance. Indeed, article 43 explicitly refers the to the right to adequate food in the context of economic, social and cultural rights that are essential for people to live in dignity.
The contents of Article 43 as well as other provisions in the new Constitution reflect the principles and obligations contained in the International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights, a binding instrument for Kenya since 1972. With regards to implementation and enforcement measures, the Constitution explicitly mentions the “fundamental duty of the State and every State organ to observe, respect, protect, promote and fulfil the rights and fundamental freedoms in the Bill of Rights” (article 21) and foresees different types of claim mechanisms in case of a right being denied (article 22).
By giving these rights the highest legal recognition at national level, the text of the Constitution is definitely a significant step from a human rights perspective as it also includes the human rights principles of human dignity, equality, equity and freedom and non discrimination as well as the obligation to give priority to the most vulnerable segments of the population. (article 20)
If you would like to read the Constitutional text, please click here:
Article 43 of the Constitution
Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
(1) Every person has the right—
(a) to the highest attainable standard of health, which includes the right to health care services, including reproductive health care;
(b) to accessible and adequate housing, and to reasonable standards of sanitation;
(c) to be free from hunger, and to have adequate food of acceptable quality;
(d) to clean and safe water in adequate quantities;
(e) to social security; and
(f) to education.
(2) A person shall not be denied emergency medical treatment.
(3) The State shall provide appropriate social security to persons who are unable to support themselves and their dependants.