COMMITTEE ON WORLD FOOD SECURITY
Rome, 6-8 June 2002
PROGRESS IN THE IMPLEMENTATION OF
1. The World Food Summit, 1996, has proven to be a watershed, in the process of highlighting and bringing to the fore the human right to food. Under Objective 7.4 (e) of the Plan of Action on World Food Security, the World Food Summit undertook to: “Invite the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, in consultation with relevant treaty bodies, and in collaboration with relevant specialised agencies and programmes of the UN system and appropriate intergovernmental mechanisms, to better define the rights related to food in Article 11 of the Covenant and to propose ways to implement and realise these rights as a means of achieving the commitments and objectives of the World Food Summit, taking into account the possibility of formulating voluntary guidelines for food security for all.” Pursuant to this objective the Director-General of FAO signed a memorandum of understanding with the High Commissioner for Human Rights in May 1997 regarding follow-up to the World Food Summit.
2. The Commission on Human Rights has annually adopted resolutions on the subject, and has appointed a Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, who reports to the Commission and to the General Assembly. FAO is playing an active role in support of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) in realising the right to food. General Comment 12 (GC 12) adopted by the CESCR, now constitutes the most authoritative interpretation of Article 11 on the right to food in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. It has helped the understanding of what is implied in the right to food in general terms, and provided principles for identifying corresponding obligations and responsibilities of state and non-state actors in implementing it. It has laid the basis for the next phase in advancing the right to food which is to operationalize implementation at the national level. It also led the UN Commission on Human Rights to appoint, in 2000, a Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food (Professor Jean Ziegler) with a mandate to establish co-operation with Governments, intergovernmental organizations, in particular the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, and non-governmental organizations, on the promotion and effective implementation of the right to food. He may “seek, receive and respond to information on all aspects of the realization of the right to food,…” He has undertaken two country visits to date, to Niger and Brazil. His most recent recommendations are highlighted in Box 1.
3. The translation of GC12 into practical legislative, executive and administrative terms in specific country contexts is the required next step on the road to acknowledging, honouring and implementing concretely the human right to food. In 2002, a series of national dialogues are planned for initiation through national seminars in a small number of selected countries, on the implications of applying GC12 principles to guide and to operationalize a rights-based approach to food and nutrition security in those countries. Two such seminars have already been held - in South Africa in January 2002 (organised by South African Human Rights Commission and the University of Pretoria) and in Brazil in March 2002 (coinciding with the visit to Brazil by the Special Rapporteur on the right to food). National seminars were also held in Norway in April (hosted by the Ministries of Agriculture and Foreign Affairs), and in Germany on 22-23 May 2002 (hosted by the Minitry of Consumer Protection, Food and Agriculture). These will be followed later in the year by similar seminars in Uganda (through the Uganda Human Rights Commission with University of Makerere), in Mali (through the Commissaire du Developpement Institutionel) and in Nepal (through the National Human Rights Commission of Nepal). In all cases the focus is expected to be on what needs to be put in place at the national level, if the country were to apply the principles of GC12 as a basis for food security planning and action. A synthesis of the lessons learned from these initial seminars are expected to be available in early 2003. That would provide a basis for other interested member states to set in motion similar processes for internal dialogue and implementation.
4. These national seminars, catalysed by the Norwegian-based International Project on the Right to Food in Development (IPRFD), also offers an opportunity to explore the role and contribution of UN agencies to the implementation of the right to adequate food and related rights, including the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and FAO. The seminars constitute a potential learning ground for international organisations regarding how to orient technical advise and support to member states in these matters, as well as identify needs for internal capacity development for the purpose.
5. FAO has actively followed the development of the Draft International Code of Conduct on the Right to Adequate Food. The Code now has the support of hundreds of other NGOs as well as of some governments. The decision to negotiate such a code belongs of course to the members of FAO and the UN, including a decision as to whether that should take place under the auspices of FAO or somewhere else. The Committee may wish to debate the manner in which a Code of Conduct on the Right to Food may best be pursued.
 UN documents E/CN.4/RES/2001/25, E/CN.4/RES/2000/10, E/CN.4/RES/1999/24, E/CN.4/RES/1998/23 and E/CN.4/RES/1997/8.
 UN documents E/CN.4/2001/53, A/56/210, E/CN.4/2002/58
 General Comments also serve as a guidance to States Parties on the expected content of their obligatory reports to the Committee on ESCR on the implementation of the right concerned.
 Commission on Human Rights resolution 2000/10, 17 April 2000.
 IPRFD provides technical advice and support as needed to these seminars and will prepare a synthesis document in collaboration with the national organisers.