The Right to Food and Access to Natural Resources

Edited by Lorenzo Cotula / Contributing authors: Lorenzo Cotula, Moussa Djiré and Ringo W. Tenga.

Right to Food Study, 2008.

In the recent years, focus has grown on human rights arguments and the efforts to improve access to resources. Human rights language has been used to support resource-access claims, and rights-based approaches have been pursued as a means for empowerment. However, beyond enthusiastic appropriations of human rights language and sceptical critiques of those, there is little understanding of the relationship between internationally recognized human rights and access to natural resources according to the authors of this study. They claim that some human rights claims made in support of resource access are based on shaky legal grounds, while other concerns raised about human rights approaches to resource access are based on an incomplete understanding of what those approaches actually entail.

The study combines legal analysis with an understanding of resource-access dynamics at local and national levels and includes tackling questions like:
What are the implications of the international recognition of the right to adequate food for natural resource policies, laws and programmes? Can human rights arguments and mechanisms support the resource-access efforts of poorer and more vulnerable groups, and if so, how?

This study seeks to address these questions. It explores the relationship between human rights, particularly the right to adequate food, and access to natural resources with specific focus on land. It does so through a conceptual analysis based on international treaties and instruments, and through two country studies — one from Mali, which includes a comparison with legislation from Senegal, and the other from the United Republic of Tanzania. While human rights arguments are universal in nature and while the issues tackled by this study are of global relevance, special attention is paid to sub-Saharan Africa, where as discussed the challenge of realizing the right to food is particularly acute.



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