Report of the World Food Summit

13-17 November 1996


Rome, 1996

Part One


Part One












I. Statements
II. Reservations, Interpretative Statements
III. Reports on Parallel Events
IV. Participating Countries and Organizations
V. List of Documents
VI. Closing Statements


The text of the Rome Declaration on World Food Security and the World Food Summit Plan of Action are appended to this report.


1. The World Food Summit was held at FAO Headquarters in Rome, Italy, from 13 to 17 November 1996, in conformity with the FAO Conference Resolution 2/95 of 31 October 1995. During that period, the Summit held nine Plenary Sessions.


2. Immediately prior to the Summit's Inaugural Ceremony, His Holiness Pope John Paul II addressed the assembly with a special message. The text of His Holiness' message is included in Annex I.


3. Mr. Jacques Diouf, Director-General of FAO, welcomed the distinguished delegates and observers and conveyed the gratitude of the Summit to His Holiness Pope John Paul II for his message of faith and for the generosity of Italy in hosting the Summit.

4. H.E. Oscar Luigi Scalfaro, President of the Italian Republic, underlined in his statement the significance of the Summit and welcomed to Italy all participants in this historic event.

5. H.E. Boutros Boutros-Ghali, Secretary-General of the United Nations, in addressing the Summit, stressed its continuity with other high-level conferences organized by the United Nations.

6. In his statement, Mr. Jacques Diouf, Director-General of FAO, emphasized the need for concrete measures to translate into action the decisions and commitments of the Summit.

7. The full texts of the statements delivered during the Inaugural Session are included in Annex I.


Election of the Chairman

8. The Summit was declared open by the Director-General of FAO, who recalled that, in its Resolution 2/95, the FAO Conference had decided that the FAO Committee on World Food Security would serve as the focal point for all aspects concerning its preparation. He reported that Ambassador Pedro Medrano Rojas, Chairman of the Committee on World Food Security, had informed him that after consultation with the Regional Groups, a unanimous consensus had emerged on the nomination of H.E. Romano Prodi, President of the Council of Ministers of the Italian Republic, to chair the Summit. President Prodi was elected Chairman of the Summit by acclamation.

9. Following a short welcome address by Mr. Francesco Rutelli, Mayor of Rome, H.E. Romano Prodi then addressed the Summit. President Prodi's statement, and that of Mayor Rutelli, are included in Annex I.

Adoption of the Programme of Work and Rules of Procedure

10. The Summit adopted the Programme of Work as contained in document WFS 96/1 and WFS 96/INF/4, and the Rules of Procedure as contained in document WFS 96/2.

Election of Vice-Chairmen and Appointment of the Members of the General Committee

11. The Chairman noted that Election of the Vice-Chairmen and Appointment of the Members of the General Committee would be considered jointly since, in accordance with Rule 8 of the Rules of Procedure, the General Committee would consist of the Chairman and six Vice-Chairmen of the Summit. The Chairman reported that, as a result of consultations held among participating countries before the Summit, a consensus had emerged with regard to nominations for the six Vice-Chairmen of the Summit. The Chairman proposed the following nominations:

12. The Summit agreed to the nominations proposed by the Chairman by acclamation.

13. The Summit appointed the Chairman and the six elected ViceChairmen members of the General Committee.

14. Furthermore, the Summit agreed that, taking into account the long working hours of the Summit, the Vice-Chairmen would be allowed to designate a senior member of their respective delegations to chair any session or part of a session. In the course of the Summit, the following Senior Officials chaired sessions or part of sessions of the Summit:

Appointment of the Credentials Committee

15. The Chairman reported that, following consultations with the Chairman of the Committee on World Food Security and among the Regional Groups, it had been agreed to propose the following nominations for members of the Credentials Committee:

16. The Summit endorsed the proposals made by the Chairman and appointed the members of the Credentials Committee by acclamation.

17. The Chairman noted that in accordance with Rule 3 of the Rules of Procedure, the Committee should elect its own Chairman.

18. The Chairman of the Summit indicated that in accordance with Rule 4 of the Rules of Procedure, pending the report of the Credentials Committee, Representatives were entitled to participate in the Summit.


19. The Chairman expressed appreciation to all those who had participated in establishing a consensus on the Rome Declaration on World Food Security and World Food Summit Plan of Action. In this context the Chairman expressed gratitude to the individual participants in the negotiations, to the Regional Groups and to FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf.

20. The Chairman stressed the role played by the Council of FAO and its Independent Chairman, H. E. Jos� Ram�n L�pez Portillo, in facilitating the work of the Committee on World Food Security. The Independent Chairman of the FAO Council, H.E. Jos� Ram�n L�pez Portillo, delivered a statement to the Summit, the text of which is included in Annex I of the present report.

21. The Chairman paid a special tribute to the Committee on World Food Security for its role in preparing the Rome Declaration on World Food Security and World Food Summit Plan of Action, and to its Chairman, Ambassador Pedro Medrano Rojas, for his successful stewardship of the negotiating process.

22. The Chairman of the Committee on World Food Security, Ambassador Pedro Medrano Rojas, introduced the Rome Declaration on World Food Security and World Food Summit Plan of Action. The text of Ambassador Medrano's statement is included in Annex I of the present report.

23. The Summit adopted by acclamation the Rome Declaration on World Food Security and World Food Summit Plan of Action, as contained in document WFS 96/3, and appended to the present report.

24. The Chairman noted that, as agreed by the Committee on World Food Security, any delegation having reservations on aspects of the documents or wishing to make interpretative statements should make them available to the Secretariat, preferably in writing, before 13:00 hours on 16 November. The reservations and/or interpretative statements received by the Secretariat, as circulated to the Summit in document WFS 96/INF/6, are contained in Annex II.


25. The Chairman declared open the General Debate, and called the first speaker to address the Summit.

26. Heads of Delegation of 176 countries and of the European Community addressed the World Food Summit. In addition, representatives of an observer state, of 19 United Nations organizations, of 23 other intergovernmental organizations, and of 13 NGO caucuses delivered statements. The Summit also received reports from events taking place in parallel to the World Food Summit - the NGO Forum, a meeting of Parliamentarians and the International Youth Forum (Annex III). Four countries exercised their right of reply pursuant to Rule 20 of the Rules of Procedure of the Summit.*


27. Of 186 participating countries, 41 were represented at the level of Head of State, 15 at the level of Deputy Head of State, 41 at the level of Head of Government and 15 at the level of Deputy Head of Government. In addition, 74 other high-level representatives participated in the Summit on behalf of the remaining countries. A list of countries and organizations participating in the World Food Summit is given in Annex IV. A separate document (WFS 96/INF/1 Rev. 1) lists the names of all members of country, member organization and observer delegations.


28. At its first meeting on 13 November 1996, the Credentials Committee, constituted by seven countries, elected Ambassador Fotis G. Poulides (Cyprus) as its Chairman.

29. The Credentials Committee during its four meetings examined the credentials of 182 delegations and found them to be valid. Furthermore, in accordance with the Committee's decision at its final meeting, the Chairman of the Credentials Committee, acting on behalf of the Committee, examined and found valid three additional credentials. The total number of credentials found valid was thus 185.

30. At its first meeting, the Committee considered the credentials of the members of the delegation of Afghanistan headed by "H.E. Professor Burhanuddin Rabbani, President of the Islamic State of Afghanistan". The Committee, noting the decision of the Credentials Committee of the United Nations General Assembly to defer any decision on the credentials of the representatives of Afghanistan to the General Assembly at its first meeting on 11 October 1996, decided also to defer any decision on their credentials. The Committee noted that, in accordance with Rule 4 of the Rules of Procedure of the Summit, representatives were entitled to participate provisionally in the Summit pending the report of the Committee on their credentials. The delegation of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan requested the Secretary-General of the World Food Summit "to place on record its reservation in regard to the credentials of the delegation of Afghanistan, headed by Professor Burhanuddin Rabbani, present at the World Food Summit".


31. In addition to the documents listed in document WFS 96/INF/3 Rev. 1 (Annex V) a three-volume series of technical background documents and a volume containing a synthesis of the above documents were also distributed in advance and made available during the Summit.


32. The World Food Summit concluded its work and was declared closed on 17 November 1996, at 12:15 hours. The closing statements of the Director-General of FAO and of the Chairman of the Summit are contained in Annex VI.

ANNEX I: Statements

His Holiness Pope John Paul II

H.E. Oscar Luigi Scalfaro, President of the Italian Republic

H.E. Boutros Boutros-Ghali, Secretary-General of the United Nations

Mr. Jacques Diouf, Director-General of FAO

H.E. Romano Prodi, President of the Council of Ministers of the Italian Republic and Chairman of the World Food Summit

Mr. Francesco Rutelli, Mayor of Rome

H.E. Jos� Ram�n L�pez Portillo, Independent Chairman of the FAO Council

H.E. Pedro Medrano Rojas, Chairman of the FAO Committee on World Food Security

His Holiness Pope John Paul II - 13 November 1996

Mr. Director-General,
Mr. Secretary-General of the United Nations Organization,
Your Excellencies,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

I was particularly grateful to accept your kind invitation to speak to the delegations of the 194 countries taking part in the World Food Summit. I thank you for your warm welcome. Sharing your concerns, I am anxious to acknowledge and encourage your efforts to come to the aid of those children, women, elderly people or families who are suffering from hunger or who are not properly nourished. To find an appropriate response to the tragic situations of many countries, you are responsible for studying the technical problems and for proposing reasonable solutions.

In the analyses which have accompanied the preparatory work for your meeting, it is recalled that more than 800 million people still suffer from malnutrition and that it is often difficult to find immediate solutions for improving these tragic situations. Nevertheless, we must seek them together so that we will no longer have, side by side, the starving and the wealthy, the very poor and the very rich, those who lack the necessary means and others who lavishly waste them. Such contrasts between poverty and wealth are intolerable for humanity.

It is the task of nations, their leaders, their economic powers and all people of goodwill to seek every opportunity for a more equitable sharing of resources, which are not lacking, and of consumer goods; by this sharing, all will express their sense of brotherhood. It requires "firm and persevering determination to commit oneself to the common good; that is to say, to the good of all and of each individual, because we are all really responsible for all" (Sollicitudo rei socialis, no. 38). This spirit calls for a change of attitude and habits with regard to life-styles and the relationship between resources and goods, as well as for an increased awareness of one's neighbour and his legitimate needs. It is to be hoped that your reflections will also inspire concrete measures to combat the food insecurity, which claims as its victims too many of our brothers and sisters in humanity, for nothing will change at the world level, if national leaders do not put into practice the commitments written in your plan of action for implementing economic and food policies based not only on profit but also on sharing in solidarity.

As you have observed, demographic considerations alone cannot explain the poor distribution of food resources. We must abandon the sophism which consists in affirming that "being numerous means being condemned to poverty". Man, by his intervention, can modify situations and respond to increasing needs. Education provided for everyone, equipment adapted to local situations, wise agricultural policies and equitable economic networks can be so many factors which will produce positive effects in the long run. A numerous population can become a source of development, for it involves the exchange of and a demand for goods. This does not, of course, mean that demographic growth can be unlimited. In this area, each family has its own duties and responsibilities, and State demographic policies must respect the dignity of human nature as well as the fundamental rights of individuals. To believe that any arbitrary stabilization of world population or even its reduction could directly solve the problem of hunger would nonetheless be an illusion: without young people's work, without the contribution of scientific research, without solidarity between peoples and generations, agricultural and nutritional resources would probably become less and less reliable and the poorest categories would remain below the poverty line and excluded from economic circulation.

It should also be recognized that populations subjected to conditions of food insecurity are often constrained by political situations that prevent them from working and producing normally. Think, for example, of the countries ravaged by conflicts of all kinds or sometimes struggling beneath the stifling weight of an international debt, of refugees forced to leave their land and all too often deprived of help, of the peoples who are victims of embargoes imposed without sufficient discernment. These situations require the practical application of peaceful means to settle controversies or differences which may arise, such as those proposed by the World Food Summit Plan of Action (cf. no. 14).

I am of course aware that among the most important long-term commitments are those concerning forms of investment in the agricultural and food sector. It seems essential here to make a comparison with the sums allocated for defence or the superfluous spending which is customary in the most developed countries. Urgent choices are required, both at the national and international levels and at the level of the different communities and families, for identifying significant ways of guaranteeing food security in the majority of countries. This is a component of peace which does not only consist in building-up considerable food reserves, but especially in giving each individual and family the possibility of having sufficient food at all times.

Your intention is to make demanding commitments in these fields, especially as regards their economic and political dimension. You would like to find the most suitable measures to encourage local agricultural production and the protection of farm land, while safeguarding natural resources. The proposals contained in the Plan of Action aim, by political action and legal measures, at guaranteeing a just sharing of productive land, at promoting the activities of agricultural and cooperative associations, and at protecting market access for the benefit of rural populations. You have also drafted suggestions for international aid to the poorest countries and for a fair determination of trade terms and access to credit. All this will certainly be inadequate if efforts are not made to teach people justice, solidarity and the love of all human beings, who are their brothers and sisters. The elements contained in your different commitments could serve to boost good relations between peoples, by a constant exchange, a "real 'culture of giving', which should make every country prepared to meet the needs of the less fortunate", as I said on the occasion of the 50th Anniversary of the FAO (cf. Address of 23 October 1995, no. 4; L`Osservatore Romano English edition, 1 November 1995, p.7). Food security will be the fruit of decisions inspired by an ethic of solidarity, and not only the result of mutual aid programmes.

In the letter Tertio millennio adveniente, written in preparation for the Jubilee of the Year 2000, I proposed concrete initiatives of international solidarity. I felt it a duty to call for "reducing substantially, if not cancelling outright, the international debt which seriously threatens the future of many nations" (no. 51). Last week, when I received the plenary assembly of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, I reiterated the Church's esteem for some of the commitments made by the international community. I renew my encouragement here that the steps undertaken will be brought to completion. For her part, the Church has decided to continue her efforts to enlighten those who have to make decisions with important consequences. In its recent document World Hunger - A Challenge for All: Development in Solidarity, the Pontifical Council Cor Unum made several proposals intended to foster a more equitable division of food resources, which, thanks to God and human labour, are not lacking today and will not be lacking in the future. Goodwill and generous policies must encourage human ingenuity, so that the vital needs of all can be met, also by virtue of the universal purpose of the earth's resources.

Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, you realize that you can count on my encouragement, and the presence of an Observer Mission at the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations should suffice to assure you of the Holy See's interest in your work and your efforts to eliminate the spectre of hunger from the world. You know, besides, how many sons and daughters of the Catholic Church are active in numerous local organizations that are working to help the poorer countries improve their production and to discover on their own, "in full fidelity to their own proper genius, the means for their social and human progress" (Paul VI, Populorum progressio, no. 64).

I am pleased to recall that the motto of the Organization that has welcomed us today is "Fiat panis", and that it is closely akin to the prayer dearest to all Christians, taught to them by Jesus himself: "Give us this day our daily bread". Then let us work together without respite, so that everyone everywhere may have bread on his table to share. May God bless all those who produce it and are nourished by it!

H.E. Oscar Luigi Scalfaro, President of the Italian Republic - 13 November 1996

Distinguished Heads of Delegation,
Mr. Secretary-General of the United Nations,
Mr. Director-General of FAO,

In the name of the Italian people - and my own - I offer you all a warm welcome and our sincere thanks. The presence here of so many national leaders reflects the importance of this political assembly which is called upon to grapple with a grave human problem that bedevils the cause of justice: the fact that some people have enough to live, while others do not; that some people can - and do - squander resources, while others die of hunger and malnutrition. This huge contrast serves to remind us that the true importance of this meeting derives not so much from the realm of politics as from that of the human conscience.

The signatories of the San Francisco Charter were well aware that the text establishing the United Nations opened a new era in human history, because this was the first time that the fundamental, inviolable human rights - those rooted in the very nature of the human person - received recognition in the positive law of peoples and states, and became the indispensable and inalienable basis of relations between states.

So today, at this first Summit of Heads of State and Government on the subject of food security, we should all realize that the purpose of our reflection, and I hope our commitment, is recognition of a natural human right which it is our common duty to protect and implement, making sure that what we mouth is more than empty words.

It is unacceptable that over 800 million people are still unable to satisfy their basic food needs. It is unacceptable for Heads of State and Government who are responsible for the life of the international community, but it is even more unacceptable in terms of the moral responsibility that is incumbent on each and every one of us. The suffering - and in many cases the innocent death - of over 800 million men, women and children demands a response from us.

The desperate cry of a large portion of humanity is directed not only towards the governments, but also to the whole of civil society, starting with those who enjoy the greatest - and very often excessive - economic advantages.

We already have some reassuring indications of such solidarity. The forum of non-governmental organizations that is meeting in parallel to this Summit represents a gathering of the forces working on the ground in many parts of the world, struggling day by day to defend human dignity. Its presence so close at hand is not only symbolic, but is also a clear message to us all. And in this very authoritative assembly, I feel we should express our special gratitude to all the volunteers throughout the world who, generously, selflessly and removed from the spotlights of the media, bear precious daily testimony to human solidarity. Our gratitude goes out to these generous souls, whose voluntary and varied work often makes up for the inadequacies of state action, and in any case complements it with intelligence and sensitivity to the needs of the most destitute.

The Youth Forum - also meeting in Rome at the moment - reminds us that we not only have to respond to the present emergency, but must also fulfil our primary and sacred duties toward future generations.

Food security is a human right, but certainly not the only one. The rights that constitute the fullness of human dignity are many and all are essential: the right to political and economic freedom, the right to security of self and property, the right to family and home, the right to work, the right to an effective democratic life, and, above all, as synthesis and result of the effective recognition of these rights, the right to peace.

Peace, the supreme good for every person and all peoples, flows from respect for truth and justice. Hunger will not be conquered in isolation, nor will its defeat automatically confer human freedom and dignity.

The history of the last decades has much to tell us in this respect, but the events of recent days are enough to challenge and accuse us. Hundreds of thousands of human beings like us - women, men and elderly people worn out with suffering, and innocent children who have known nothing but the misery of war, hunger, privation and bloodshed in their short lives - are desperately fleeing for their lives in an endless human river of refugees.

And are we simply going to look on? Are we going to wait for the massacre to end before we establish peace between the untold number of dead and the few hopeless survivors? How can we claim to represent civilization and progress or to exemplify the freedom and democracy that we wish others to emulate?

Thank you, Mr Secretary-General of the United Nations, for your sensitivity, but it seems to us that the Security Council has shown a lack of compassion and justice, and a failure to fulfil a duty of civilization.

This present assembly should loudly condemn those who apply genocide as a rule of conquest and strongly urge that the resolve of an international body does not translate into futile bureaucracy.

The rejection of violence must entail strong stances and actions. It is our bounden duty to hurry to the defence of the suffering and the innocent, whatever the cost, if human dignity is to be upheld.

Are some people waiting to count the economic gains once the appalling massacre is over? Far from being rhetorical, this is a question that demands an answer - and one hopes it will be negative.

This is where the United Nations has a duty, a responsibility and a commitment to fulfil. The United Nations came into being to serve people to the full, addressing every need, every right and every legitimate expectation. For there can be no peace when injustice clamours for redress in the righteous mind; there is no peace without freedom and total respect of all rights.

Italy stands shoulder to shoulder with all countries and all people of good will, as we embark on this great undertaking.

It is no coincidence that Rome has the privilege of hosting three United Nations agencies - FAO, the World Food Programme, and the International Fund for Agricultural Development - which have been working with perseverance and wisdom for many years now, deploying human and material resources to overcome the problem of hunger in the world. The gravity of the situation before us should not mask the achievements that have been made. I would pay special tribute to FAO, which has managed to mobilize the energy and enthusiasm of many sectors of the more developed societies, especially in the scientific world, in order to bring about a sustained global revolution that will soon assure food security and a balanced diet for all.

I am not forgetting the great strides made in the field of education and technical and vocational training for women and men that had previously been left behind by modern progress, so that the human resources and intellectual capacities of the Third World can be used to maximum effect.

This Summit is a great opportunity that can on no account be let to slip. We shall certainly be able to make considerable progress in implementing primary justice towards those struggling for survival, but on two conditions:

(1) that we conceive this duty as an act of love expressing absolute equality among human beings; and

(2) that we all strive together in this affirmation of justice, embodying the brotherhood that was solemnly invoked in the 1948 Declaration of Human Rights.

I extend my best wishes for your work, with the reminder that this is an urgent and serious commitment, for which we shall all one day be held to account.

H.E. Boutros Boutros-Ghali, Secretary-General of the United Nations - 13 November 1996

His Holiness,
Mr. President,
Mr. Director-General,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

The World Food Summit which opens today in Rome must provide the international community as a whole with the opportunity to reaffirm the overriding need to ensure food security for all.

I should therefore like, at the outset, to congratulate Mr. Jacques Diouf, Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), on having urged States to exert renewed efforts and take new initiatives in the context of the Rome Declaration and Plan of Action which are the subject of this Conference.

I should also like to thank the Italian authorities for their hospitality and cooperation. For more than 50 years, Italy has acted as host, in Rome, to the headquarters of FAO. And His Excellency President Oscar Luigi Scalfaro has just reaffirmed, in the clearest possible manner, the commitment of his country to the struggle against hunger.

I should like especially to express my profound gratitude to His Holiness Pope John Paul II. Today, by his presence and by his words, he once again honours the entire United Nations family.

And in this way, he recalls that the problem of hunger is not only an economic, social or political issue, but also an ethical and moral one.

For hunger is a direct affront not only to the physical integrity but also to the very dignity of the human person. Hunger is an insult to the fundamental values of the international community. And we are well aware that a society would be doomed to shame and dishonour if, at the end of the twentieth century, there persisted what His Holiness has so appropriately called "the structures of famine".

We are aware that much effort lies before us. For the scandal of hunger still persists.

Even today, one person in five suffers from hunger!

Eight hundred million people suffer from chronic malnutrition!

And 88 States, almost half of which are situated in sub-Saharan Africa, know the pangs of chronic famine and malnutrition!

At this very moment, 200 million children of under five years of age are suffering from malnutrition and food deficiencies.

This is inadmissible!

It is totally unacceptable to see certain parts of the world staggering under an abundance of food, while other parts lack essential foodstuffs.

It is quite intolerable to see certain countries wasting or destroying food, whereas others cannot provide their children with even elementary needs.

The problem of hunger is not only a problem of production. It is also a problem of distribution.

It comes as a rude shock to our conception of equality and social justice.

I should therefore like to associate myself fully with the initiative taken today by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

It is my hope that the World Food Summit will provide the occasion for a new and general mobilization against hunger!

In drawing the attention of everyone to the threats posed by hunger and malnutrition to nations and to vast areas of the planet, the World Food Summit clearly places the problem of hunger among the foremost present and future priorities of the international community.

That is the reason why the objectives of this Rome Summit fall entirely within the framework of the great forward-looking actions which the world Organization has been taking, since 1992, concerning the economic and social future of the planet.

It is, moreover, striking to note that the great United Nations conferences that have been held since that date have all, without exception, and in their field of competence, placed emphasis on the urgency of finding a remedy for famine and malnutrition.

Thus, in 1992, at Rio, the Conference on Environment and Development emphasized the need to ensure food security at all levels, within the framework of sustainable development, as defined in Agenda 21.

The following year, the World Conference on Human Rights, meeting in Vienna, reaffirmed the need to ensure that everyone enjoyed a genuine right to food.

In 1994, the International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo emphasized the linkage between population growth and food production and the need to respond globally to populations' ever-growing food needs.

The World Summit for Social Development, meeting in Copenhagen in March 1995, also made a strong commitment to the campaign against hunger by making it a key element of poverty eradication.

The Beijing Conference, for its part, rightly drew the attention of the international community to the fundamental role played by women in food production, particularly in rural areas, recalling that women produce over 55 percent of the world's food and over 80 percent of Africa's food.

Just recently, the Habitat II Conference in Istanbul showed the importance of establishing healthy linkages between rural and urban areas and emphasized the role of cities in ensuring proper food distribution and drinking water supply.

So, in a way, the Rome Summit marks the culmination of this process of reflection, and it is only right that FAO should have taken the initiative of organizing it since, according to the FAO Constitution, the Organization has the essential goal of "ensuring humanity's freedom from hunger".

It is from this standpoint that I earnestly hope that this Summit will provide us with the opportunity to persuade the international community to make food security an absolute priority and to draw the necessary conclusions as to future action.

As you know, the idea of food security has been circulating for a long time in the international agencies.

As early as 1948, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights affirmed that "Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and his family, including food...".

Article 11 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights put it even more succinctly, in 1966, when it affirmed the "right of everyone to be free from hunger". This right to food is even characterized as a "fundamental right". It is the primary economic right of the human person.

In 1973, when FAO first gave the concept of food security a place in the international legal order, we entered a new stage, for that made it possible at the universal level to define food policies, put in place strategies for action, present medium-term plans and establish emergency and crisis mechanisms.

Likewise, regional organizations in Asia, Lain America and Africa devised procedures and means of action. Real progress was made and it is no exaggeration to say that food security progressed on the planet.

That only makes the catastrophic situations which we are again facing today, particularly on the African continent, even more intolerable.

It was for this reason that I proposed the launching this year of the United Nations System-Wide Special Initiative on Africa.

One purpose of this Initiative, in which the World Bank and the major United Nations agencies are involved, is to underscore the need to ensure food security and safe water supply in Africa more effectively over the long term. FAO will be a key partner in this effort.

At the same time, however, we are also confronting extremely urgent situations.

As this Summit is taking place, over a million starving, frightened refugees are wandering helpless in the mountains and forests of eastern Zaire.

So I should like to make a solemn appeal here to the international community to help those men, women and children who have lost everything and who face certain death unless they receive immediate assistance.

The international community must come to the aid of the refugees in Zaire. We need everyone to help - the great Powers, the African States, international agencies and humanitarian organizations. This is an all-out emergency and every day counts!

If, by our concerted, collective efforts, we manage to bring this tragedy under control, we will have given real meaning to the concept of world food security.

Mr. Jacques Diouf, Director-General of FAO - 13 November 1996

Honourable President of the Italian Republic,
Distinguished Heads of State and Government,
Mr. Secretary-General of the United Nations,
Honourable Heads of Delegation,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Today, as we gather here in the Eternal City, the cradle of Latin culture at the crossroads of the great flows of human civilization since the time of the Caesars, it is not by chance that the peoples of the world should assemble, as in the time of Trajan's Forum, in their shared quest for solidarity in front of the ruins of the Palatine, resplendent in their imperial majesty.

Our meeting, then, takes place under the humanistic auspices of History, Art, Philosophy and Culture.

This is important, for the underlying significance of this first World Food Summit would be lost to us, were we to view it solely through the distorting prism of technology, economics and policy.

It is only appropriate that the leaders of the international community should have journeyed to Rome:

Firstly, because we all belong to one human race, each of us with the same rights and obligations, where "each person is all persons", to cite the Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges;

Secondly, because the advance of communications has turned today's world of 5.7 billion men and women of all ages into a planetary village;

Thirdly, and especially, because the platonic ideal of the "just state" is deeply ingrained in the hearts of all human beings, for as Confucius taught us, "a person of virtue places justice above all else".

Thus, the "Rome Declaration" submitted for your approval draws from universal principles that are rooted in ethics.

It reaffirms "the right of everyone to have access to safe and nutritious food".

It considers "intolerable that more than 800 million people throughout the world, and particularly in developing countries, do not have enough food to meet their basic nutritional needs".

It pledges "our political will and our common and national commitment to achieving food security for all... with an immediate view to reducing the number of undernourished people to half their present level no later than 2015".

It also specifies that "food should not be used as an instrument for political and economic pressure".

But ethics without practical application only lead to the sterile formalism and abstractionism of scholastic thought.

So the moral principles had to be given substance in the form of a plan of action.

Seven commitments were therefore negotiated to ensure that "all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food".

This will entail:

Yet these so commendable international decisions risk turning sour if, when taking stock in a few years' time, we see that hopes have been dashed, unless measures are taken here and now to mould these decisions into national projects and programmes.

National, because operational decisions have to be taken at the country level. It is only there that changes can be made, in terms of quantity and quality, that will move the indicators of food security forward and open the way for development options that will conserve the already over-exploited natural resources and guarantee social equity in the distribution of the fruits of agricultural growth.

That is why the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations will be working with its Member Nations in building an appropriate framework for concrete action. It has in fact started to prepare the ground for this colossal undertaking with its partners in the United Nations system, the international financial institutions, the bilateral and multilateral agencies and the non-governmental organizations.

The Special Programme for Food Security which was adopted by the Member Nations to spearhead the fight against rural poverty in the 82 low-income food-deficit countries, is already underway in 15 countries, and will soon be extended to others. It should help raise productivity through the transfer of appropriate technology and safeguard production thanks to the harnessing of water and the construction of small irrigation schemes with the involvement of rural communities.

The programme will thus serve as a central thrust in the implementation of policies to increase food supplies in countries that lack the means to purchase their food shortfalls on the international market.

This programme has already been given new impetus and wider scope by the support of several developed countries and the participation of advanced developing countries under South-South cooperation. As more funds become available, its activities will move from the participatory aspects of production to the technical and socio-economic issues of storage, marketing, processing, land ownership, access to inputs and products and, finally, employment.

The Emergency Prevention System for Transboundary Animal and Plant Pests and Diseases, which presently focuses on rinderpest and the desert locust, should help protect the rewards of farmers' labour. The sustainable development programme of Agenda 21 of the Earth Summit is the last component of the three-pronged strategy to reverse the cruel fate of the victims of hunger, malnutrition and poverty.

However, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations was required to function better and to adjust to a new environment if it was to deserve the trust that its Member Nations placed in its ability to play a decisive role in the only battle worth waging: the fight for life and for the consolidation of peace. And that is what the Organization has been doing for almost three years, with the help of its governing bodies and by changing its priorities, structures and policy.

In a few days, a first evaluation of this effort will be submitted to distinguished personalities from different parts of the world and cultures, with a view to submitting it later to Member Nations. It will therefore be a revived and revamped Organization that, with your help, will take up the challenge of world food security as we enter a third millennium, which could be a time of conflict over water and food unless we take the necessary care.

We could, of course, question the chances of success of such an initiative, when the world's governments would appear to accept, without much compunction, a reduction in the budget of the Organization of the United Nations system that they have entrusted to help over 800 million people suffering from hunger and malnutrition; a budget that in fact amounts to less than what nine developed countries spend on dog and cat food in six days and less than 5 percent of what the inhabitants of one developed country spend each year on slimming products to counter the effects of overeating.

There is also no denying that the lights and shades of selfishness, scepticism and cynicism sometimes cloud the bright paths of hope, but the glimmerings of generosity, confidence and goodness always shine through in the end in the radiant splendour of the miracles of conscience which, to cite the French essayist Alain, always distinguishes what "is" from what "should be".

So it is with faith that, under the celestial skies, we look to the future, sharing the conviction of the German philosopher Kant who in the "Metaphysics of Morals" wrote that "all the praises of the ideal of Humanity, viewed in its moral perfection, remain untouched by the examples to the contrary, showing what humans are, what they were and what they will probably be".

We are convinced that the two-and one-half years spent preparing this Summit and drafting the technical documents on the many aspects of food security have given a more informative picture and raised awareness among public opinion and policy makers.

Moreover, the participatory process forged dialogue with our many partners:

Finally, all these actions have been extensively covered by the media who, with their arsenal of resources, have brought the tragedy of hunger and poverty into the homes of the world's wealthy.

It is on this raising of awareness and awakening of conscience that we rest our belief that the rich countries will eventually direct their assistance towards prevention, so as to limit costly crises such as those which, alas, are casting such terrible gloom over the Great Lakes Region of Africa, crises that could have been avoided with appropriate development programmes.

So much effort must surely have an effect on attitudes and behaviour, on perception and understanding of the scale of the tragedy of the hungry, whose voices so often go unheard.

So much effort must surely give a salutary, redeeming jolt that will drive forward a vast worldwide campaign to ensure "food for all".

That is why I should like first of all to pay tribute to you. By being here, you have shown that the despair of the deprived and of the vulnerable, particularly the women and children, is worth the expense of your journey and a little of your precious time.

In doing so, you have shown that "you are not indifferent to the human condition" and that the issue of determining how to feed 3 billion additional inhabitants in the year 2030 amply justified convening a Summit of Heads of State and Government, for the first time in the fifty years of existence of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

I should also like to thank His Holiness Pope John Paul II for his message of faith which is so important in a day and age when money and the market seem to be the overriding values.

My gratitude also goes to the Government of Italy for its unstinting political, diplomatic and material contributions which have been so decisive for the success of this Summit.

I am of course immensely grateful to the Member Nations and our development partners for all their help and for the strong support and encouragement they have given us in often difficult times.

I should also like to express my pride at being at the head of the FAO staff who have worked so hard behind the scenes to make this event a success. Without their skill, efficiency, dedication and self-denial none of this would have been possible.

But, above all, I should like to say how fortunate I am to have been surrounded by the warm affection of my wife and children. Without their love and patience, I would never have found the necessary energy and composure to embark on organizing a world summit.

Finally, Honourable Heads of Delegation, you will understand if I urge you to envisage, as of now, the measures that will be needed to give practical expression to the professions of faith and commitments that are made at this Summit.

By approving the "Declaration of Rome" and the Plan of Action two weeks before the Summit, the Committee on World Food Security of FAO has given you, for the first time in the history of United Nations summits, the opportunity to focus not on reaching consensus but on identifying the concrete actions that each intends to conduct so that the commitments solemnly made before the international community can be maintained.

May this World Summit, no doubt the last of the century, indeed of the millennium, be an occasion for you to reawaken a sense of reassurance and strong hope in the hearts of those suffering.

May you, the leaders of this world, refute the thoughts of the German philosopher Goethe when he affirms that men of action are always without conscience, and that there is only conscience in the thoughtful.

By demonstrating your compassion so powerfully, here in the birthplace of one of the most outstanding of civilizations, you will be confirming the relevance of the words of the Greek philosopher Protagoras, "Man is the measure of all things", the measure of the existence of things that are and the measure of the non-existence of things that are not. Thank you for your kind attention.

H.E. Romano Prodi, President of the Council of Ministers of the Italian Republic and Chairman of the World Food Summit - 13 November 1996

Distinguished Heads of Delegation,
Mr. Secretary-General of the United Nations,
Mr. Director-General of FAO,

First of all I should like to thank the Summit for the honour it has shown me in appointing me Chairman. I am also grateful for the choice of Rome as site for the conference that I have the privilege of opening today and that I hope will prove to be historic.

Then I should like to recall the major conferences convened by the United Nations over the past five years to deal with the primary challenges facing the world as we enter the third millennium: the Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro, the International Conference on Nutrition in Rome, the Conference on Human Rights in Vienna, the International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo, the World Summit for Social Development in Copenhagen, the Fourth Conference on Women in Beijing, and the Conference on Human Settlements (Habitat II) in Istanbul.

The World Food Summit in Rome is the last link in this dialogue, which the United Nations has initiated in keeping with its terms of reference, its composition and its universal vocation, a dialogue that addresses the important issues of the social, economic and human progress of present and future generations. In conveying a special word of thanks to FAO for having taken on the task of convening and organizing this conference, I should like to emphasize the Organization's ability and willingness to assume special responsibilities in implementing whatever decisions we may reach.

I believe I speak for all of us when I express the hope that our work will produce ambitious conclusions, as well as specific commitments aimed at securing far-reaching results. Today's emergencies reflect problems that we shall meet again in the future. And I would at once cite one that has recently been rousing public opinion throughout the world: the dramatic worsening of the situation in the Great Lakes Region, to which the Security Council of the United Nations itself drew international attention a few days ago, inviting its Member States to undertake humanitarian action. I strongly hope that this action will be carried out rapidly and decisively, and for my part shall do all I can to this end, so that the suffering of the victims can be alleviated without further delay.

The subject of food security is central to the sustainable development that we all see as a primary, compelling objective for the international community. The problem is becoming increasingly complex, and can no longer be treated outside a global perspective, if the various components of the food security equation are to be clearly seen. This complexity is reflected in the Plan of Action that we have the task of defining and must also be fully reflected in the resulting commitments that we shall assume.

We are all well aware of the three basic components of what we refer to as "food security": availability of food, stability of food supply, and access to food. We have to act on all three fronts. Hence the need for a series of actions.

Firstly, we have to do all we can to guarantee and develop agricultural production while maintaining the environmental balance. This entails marshalling the necessary human, financial and scientific resources.

Secondly, we have to pursue the struggle against poverty. This includes a commitment to education and training, human development and a special focus on the role of women, in a context that will ensure the protection of human rights, democracy and good governance.

This is why I believe that food security is the bedrock not only of development policy, but also of every programme for social equity, political stability and universal human dignity.

I am confident that the intense work we are starting today will lead to the adoption of a Plan of Action to be applied at local, national, regional and global level. In this context, we count on the reflections and experiences of all the countries and bodies represented here. The problem is complex, and the search for solutions involves many different players, each with specific responsibilities. The United Nations system, and within it FAO in particular, will implement appropriate cooperative actions, but these will have to be backed by the national policies adopted by the Governments - for each country has the right and duty to decide the course of its own development and establish the conditions for economic and social growth focused on sustainable development and promotion of the human person. In this perspective, the conclusions of the present Summit will serve as a point of reference for future discussions on global issues. I am thinking in particular of the Conference of the World Trade Organization to be held in Singapore in December.

The contribution of all the components of civil society will be essential if public and private resources are to work together. In this connection, I would express deep appreciation for the meeting between FAO and over 200 non-governmental organizations from over 70 countries held in September in preparation for this Summit. I should also like to extend our warmest greetings to the NGOs also presently gathered at a major forum here in Rome.

Let us recall the inalienable right to be free of hunger and malnutrition, as solemnly proclaimed in this same city by the 1974 World Food Conference. Let us recall and reaffirm this right, as we set ourselves the aim of halving the number of undernourished people in the world by the year 2015, in other words within one generation. History will one day judge us on our resolve to fulfil our duty to future generations.

Mr. Francesco Rutelli, Mayor of Rome - 13 November 1996

Respected guests,

I have the honour of welcoming you in the name of the city of Rome. And this is no empty ritual phrase, but one filled with a deep sense of solidarity.

Rome is proud to host FAO, the member of the United Nations family concerned with nourishing the world. Rome is honoured to host this conference, which so many people are looking to with attention and confidence. Rome is happy to have contributed, as best it could, towards creating an atmosphere of friendship and cooperation with the FAO Summit and the related events also taking place.

This very ancient city was responsible for at least two words that mark human history and culture, words associated with agriculture and the soil. The words mensura and limes-measurement and boundary-remind us all of the very practical action of demarcating land by setting stones in fields as boundary markers. We are reminded of this by the simple but solemn action of Romulus who, according to legend, founded Rome 2749 years ago with a farm implement - the plough - on the hill overlooking this FAO building.

If I may be somewhat undiplomatic, I would call on you, the representatives of the governments of our planet, to make sure that your work reflects the down-to-earth approach of our peasant forebears.

The cautus mensor or "careful surveyor" described by the poet Ovid shared out the land. Here in Rome, you can urge all the people of the earth to share in a collective responsibility; that of bread, life, development, food self-sufficiency, and cancellation of the external debt of the poorest countries by the year 2000.

Absolute poverty is the world's scandal as we end this millennium, and the hunger of so many of our brothers and sisters must be eradicated in their own lands, thanks to their own soil.

So welcome to Rome.

Tomorrow evening, with many of our fellow citizens, we shall be marching from the Capitol to the Colosseum, passing through the Roman Forum, as a sign of friendship and of confidence in your work.

The city of Rome offers you its hand, in the knowledge that you will be offering a hand to the world at large.

My best wishes for your work.

H. E. Jos� Ram�n L�pez Portillo, Independent Chairman of the FAO Council - 13 November 1996

The Summit that opens today represents the last great effort of this century and the first of the next century to fulfil an old promise - that of food for all - and the new promise of achieving this in a sustainable manner. It is not therefore the culmination of a process, but rather a new beginning in which the political will, that we see today at the highest level, will help shape and implement a food security strategy that will be more effective than in the past.

When the Director-General proposed the convening of this Summit, the Council encouraged the Member Countries to actively support the proposal and to help successfully complete the preparations in an unprecedently short time. Transparency and democratic participation entailed the full involvement of the United Nations agencies and the collaboration of non-governmental organizations, academic and scientific institutes and private enterprise.

Concurrent activities resulting from recent international conferences were carefully taken into account to avoid duplication and enhance efficiency. Similarly, top-level monitoring and refinement procedures were devised within countries, regions and the United Nations system.

The lead-up to the Summit therefore took the form of a more complex, multidisciplinary and multiparty debate that will now have to be institutionalized if we are to sustain the conditions needed for a dialogue, decision-making and coordination process that involves all the stakeholders. Unless we achieve this, we run the risk of disastrous conflicts and, indeed, the use of violence and oppression to settle differences between countries and peoples, a situation further exacerbated by the fact that today's global economy and the interlinkages of social and ecological problems would endanger the whole of humanity.

All the parties must therefore work together in a united effort to ease the anguish of the hungry and malnourished. That is why this Summit also focuses on people, besides food, and on the ethical and moral dimension of hunger and malnutrition. It centres on life and on the right to food. The concern is not just to produce and distribute more food, but to do this in a sustainable manner and to guarantee the access of present and future generations to a wholesome and nutritious diet.

The future of food and agriculture cannot rest on strategies that offer more of the same, even if they were to offer much more of the same. We are now facing the limitations and dangers of such an approach. The challenge before us lies in mobilizing an agriculture driven by inputs and oriented towards production; an agriculture that is in tune with environmental conservation and that is capable of responding effectively to the nutritional needs of all people. As things now stand, many of these needs do not find expression in effective market demand or affordable prices.

The poorest members of society lack the means to realize their preferences. Hence the enormous gulf between potential and real demand. Remember that over half of humanity has a daily income of under three United States dollars and that 10 million people are reported to die each year from hunger or hunger-related causes. But as fifty years of FAO have shown, the food security equation extends far beyond concern over production and access. Broadly speaking, it also encompasses population growth, the changing patterns of food consumption, the convolutions of inequality, the application of appropriate technologies, the participation of local communities and women in development, the deterioration of the natural resource base that underpins agriculture and fisheries, and the contamination and degradation of the environment. The interplay of these factors has an exponential impact that can determine the success or failure of a food security strategy.

For the last fifty years, FAO has played a lead role in defining the normative and operating framework in which the international community has striven to overcome hunger and attain food security. However, FAO's impact is, by itself, limited and its role essentially catalytic. Its advantage lies in the mechanisms that translate its normative function, in its ability to coordinate and cooperate with other United Nations agencies and actors, and in its capacity to demonstrate in the field. FAO's strength also lies in its credibility as a body that is objective, impartial and technically competent and that is efficient and democratic in analysis and decision-making. These are attributes that we should jointly foster, not undermine.

Thank you, Mr Chairman, for your encouraging words on the role of the Council in preparing for this Summit. The Council is answerable to the Conference and, as such, its role is to apply the resolutions of the Conference and to prepare it for new decisions. The Council therefore supervised and supported at all times the mandate entrusted by the top governing body to the Committee on World Food Security to prepare the Summit and draft the Rome Declaration and Plan of Action that have been placed before you for approval. A notable feature of the preparatory process was the goodwill shown by all parties throughout and the constructive manner in which differences were resolved - clear evidence of a common concern to hold high the mandate and objectives of FAO and to ensure the success of this Summit.

H. E. Pedro Medrano Rojas, Chairman of the FAO Committee on World Food Security - 13 November 1996.

Mr. Chairman of the World Food Summit, Prof. Romano Prodi, President of the Council of Ministers of the Government of Italy,
Distinguished Heads of State and Government,
Mr. Secretary-General of the United Nations, Dr Boutros-Boutros Ghali,
Mr. Director-General, Dr. Jacques Diouf,
Mr. Independent Chairman of the FAO Council, Jos� Ram�n L�pez Portillo,
Honourable Delegates,

As you know, Mr Chairman and Honourable Delegates, Resolution 2/95 of the Conference of FAO, endorsing the Director-General's initiative to convene this World Food Summit, designated the Committee on World Food Security as the focal point for all matters related to its preparation. More specifically, the Committee was charged with drafting the Rome Declaration and the Plan of Action that the governments, international agencies and all the sectors of civil society would have to implement to advance towards our goal of world food security.

In executing its mandate, the Committee on World Food Security set up an Inter-sessional Working Group which called on the active participation of the member countries and of representatives of the United Nations agencies, non-governmental organizations, academic institutes and the private sector. The Inter-sessional Working Group and the Committee on World Food Security were also able to draw from the FAO Regional Conferences held in Asia and the Pacific, Africa, the Near East, Europe, North America and Latin America and the Caribbean, along with the work of the national committees established in each country to support the preparatory process for the Summit.

After arduous and complex negotiations at its last session, which began on 23 September and finished on 31 October, the Committee on World Food Security completed its task by unanimously approving the texts of the Rome Declaration on World Food Security and the World Food Summit Plan of Action which are submitted for your consideration and adoption.

The Rome Declaration on World Food Security expresses the broad consensus of the countries on moral and policy issues of paramount importance to the destiny of humankind. It reaffirms, for example, the right of every individual to have access to safe and nutritious food, consistent with the right to adequate food and the fundamental right of everyone to be free from hunger. It also underscores the political will to eradicate hunger and the importance of a peaceful, stable and enabling political, social and economic environment. It emphasizes the need for democracy and the promotion and protection of all human rights and fundamental freedoms, the right to development and the full and equal participation of men and women as essential determinants of success in achieving sustainable food security for all.

As regards the World Food Summit Plan of Action, this reflects the various commitments, objectives and measures of countries to achieve food security at individual, household, national, regional and global levels. The Plan of Action draws upon the experience of previous international conferences and summits, and takes into account present reality and future needs. It also defines the concept of food security, establishes instruments and mechanisms for its realization, specifies targets and time frames for the reduction of malnutrition and explicitly refers to the participation of both governments and civil society for its effective implementation.

Mr Chairman, Honourable Delegates, the finalization of these texts was only made possible by the dedication and willingness to compromise of all the members of the Committee on World Food Security who worked so hard and selflessly. I can assure you that all the members of the Committee, without exception, centred all their efforts on attaining consensus, even on highly sensitive issues, because they were fully aware that this Summit would serve primarily to bring relief to the hundreds of millions of human beings throughout the world who now lack the food to lead healthy and dignified lives.

I should like, on behalf of the Committee on World Food Security, to express our deepest gratitude to all the members. I should also like to thank the Director-General and all the staff of FAO for their efficient support which enabled the Committee on World Food Security to complete its task two weeks before the opening of this Summit. I am equally indebted to Mr Jos� Ram�n L�pez Portillo, the Independent Chairman of the Council, for having facilitated the work and efforts of the Committee.

Finally, I am especially grateful to the members of the Bureau who worked alongside me throughout the process and who gave their very best to bring to successful conclusion the mandate entrusted to us by the Conference of FAO.

Mr Chairman,

This leads me to the inestimable honour of submitting, through your good offices, for the consideration and adoption of the Distinguished Delegates of the World Food Summit, the Rome Declaration on World Food Security and the World Food Summit Plan of Action.

Thank you very much.

ANNEX II: Reservations, interpretative statements



The Argentine Republic has the following interpretative statement to make:

1. Stabilization of the world population should not be achieved through measures initiated by governments or supranational agencies or institutions that run counter to the freedom of decision of individuals and families, and fail to take into account the religious, ethical and cultural values of local communities.

2. Family planning should respect the freedom of decision and the human rights of spouses, without state interference.

3. Population growth is not necessarily a consequence of underdevelopment, nor the cause of poverty and food insecurity. Policies aimed at promoting food security should be based on the education and development of the individual and, most importantly, on social justice in both the local and the international context.


The Argentine Republic has the following reservation, which is grounded on the provisions of its constitution and national law, as laid down in paragraph 12 of the World Food Summit Plan of Action, and, especially, on the universal nature of respect for the right to life:

The reproductive health services should act in conformity with the freedom of decision of individuals, taking into account their religious, ethical and cultural values. The Argentine Republic reaffirms the principle of the paramount responsibility of parents for matters related to the health and education of their children under age, in accordance with the provisions of the International Convention on the Rights of the Child. The reproductive health services should on no account include surgical or chemical abortion, either as an act per se or as a means of birth control.

Carlos Ruckauf

Vice-President of Argentina


The Delegation of Burundi

Reservation of the Republic of Burundi with regard to the 3rd paragraph on page 2 of the Rome Declaration on World Food Security.

While endorsing the principle that food should not be used as an instrument of political and economic pressure, Burundi considers the term "refraining" used in this paragraph to be euphemistic, in view of the dramatic situation occasioned by the embargo. This term should therefore be replaced by "eliminating", thus the paragraph would read as follows:

"Food should not be used as an instrument for political and economic pressure. We reaffirm the importance of international cooperation and solidarity as well as the necessity of eliminating all unilateral measures not in accordance with international law and the Charter of the United Nations and that endanger food security."

Ntiranyibagira Damas

Minister of Agriculture and Livestock



The Holy See joins the consensus on the final documents of the World Food Summit (Rome, 13 -17 November 1996) in conformity with its nature and mission, and with reference to paragraph 12 of the "World Food Summit Plan of Action", wishes to express its understanding of some concepts and terms used in the said documents.

1. The Holy See reiterates its reservations concerning the interpretation to be given to the term "reproductive health services" expressed in the Report of the International Conference on Population and Development (Cairo, 5-13 September 1994).

2. The Holy See reasserts that the stabilization of the world's population must not be achieved by national or international measures which deny the right of spouses to decide on procreation and the spacing of births.

3. With reference to the terms "family planning" and "family planning services", the consensus of the Holy See should in no way be interpreted as constituting a change in its well-known position concerning those family planning methods which the Catholic Church considers morally unacceptable, or concerning family planning services that do not respect the freedom of spouses, the human dignity or the human rights of those concerned.

4. The Holy See understands the use of the term "gender" in these documents according to its Statement of Interpretation which was included in the Report of the Fourth World Conference on Women (Beijing, 415 September 1995).

5. With regard to all references to international agreements, declarations, resolutions and instruments mentioned in the documents of the Summit, the Holy See reserves its position in a manner consistent with its formal acceptance or non-acceptance of them or of any expression found in them, in their related mechanisms or procedures of control and with any reservations it may have expressed.

6. The Holy See requests that these Reservations and Statement of Interpretation be included integrally in the definitive Report of the World Food Summit.


His Excellency, Chairman of the World Food Summit
His Excellency, Director-General of the Food & Agriculture Organization

The Delegation of the Republic of Iraq would like to advise you of its reservations concerning the text of paragraph 33(c) on page 22 of the Plan of Action submitted to the World Food Summit, and requests that the text be amended to read as follows:

"Develop appropriate national and regional plans and policies in the regions where conditions for regional cooperation concerning national and international water exist, and taking into consideration the established rights of States in international waters in conformity with the principles of international law and water management techniques, promote economically and environmentally-sound irrigation improvement, in particular natural irrigation, and ensure sustainable rainfed agriculture, with a view to increasing cropping intensities and reducing the impact of drought and floods on food output, and restore the state of the natural resources, while at the same time preserving the quality and availability of water for other purposes, especially human consumption."

Taha Mohyeddin Ma'arouf

Vice President of the Republic of Iraq




The delegation of the Islamic Republic of Iran wishes to set on record that the Islamic Republic of Iran affirms its commitment to the implementation of the Rome Declaration and World Food Summit Plan of Action with full respect to Islam and ethical values of the Society.

M. Saeed Nouri-Naeeni

Ambassador, Permanent Representative


The Lebanese Republic
Ministry of Agriculture

Distinguished President of the World Food Summit,
Distinguished Director-General of the Food and Agriculture
Organization of the United Nations

The Lebanese delegation to the World Food Summit (WFS) expresses its reservation about the text of paragraph 33 (c), which is among Objectives and Actions of the Plan of Action adopted by WFS on 13 November 1996. The Lebanese delegation requests that the text of the abovementioned paragraph be changed as follows:

"Develop national and regional plans and policies that promote appropriate cooperation with concerned States about national waters, while emphasizing the preservation of the established rights of States in international waters, in conformity with the rules of international law and water management techniques; promote economically, socially and enviornmentally-sound irrigation improvement, in particular small-scale irrigation, and sustainable intensification of rainfed agriculture, with a view to increasing cropping intensities and reducing the impact of drought and floods on food output and restoring national resources, while at the same time preserving the quality and availability of water for other purposes, especially human consumption."

We are looking forward to seeing that our request concerning this vital change will be met.

Accept the expression of my highest esteem and consideration.

Shawaki Fakhoury

Minister of Agriculture of the Lebanese Republic


Permanent Mission
of the Socialist Peoples' Libyan Arab Jamahiriya to
the UN Agencies in Rome

The Libyan Arab Jamahiriya would like to make the observations below as regards the Rome Declaration on World Food Security and World Food Summit Plan of Action hoping that these observations would be reflected in the final report of the Summit.

I - The Libyan Arab Jamahiriya reserves its right concerning the interpretation of the concept of population policies, wherever it appears in the Declaration and Plan of Action, to be within what is sanctioned by the Sharia and religious values, and consistent with our national laws, social traditions, heritage and culture.

II - The Libyan Arab Jamahiriya condemns terrorism in all its manners and guises, and shares with the international community the conviction that it is necessary to combat terrorism. However we should like to put on record that we understand the concept of : "terrorism", wherever it is contained in the Declaration and Plan of Action to be a reaffirmation of the distinction made by the General Assembly in Resolution 51/46 between terrorism and the right of nations to self-determination and struggle for liberation.

The Alternate Representative




In joining the consensus on the World Food Summit Plan of Action, the Delegation of Malta wishes to state that it reserves its position on the use of the term "reproductive health" in paragraph 22 (a) of the Plan of Action. The interpretation given by Malta to this term is consistent with its national legislation, according to which the termination of pregnancy through induced abortion is illegal. It should be recalled that, during the preparations for the World Food Summit, Malta clearly expressed its objection to the use of the term.

The Delegation of Malta requests that its reservation be included in the final document of the World Food Summit.

Francis Montanaro Mifsud




Permanent Representation of
the Federal Republic of Nigeria to FAO
Nigerian Delegation to the World Food Summit

The delegation of Nigeria submits the following reservations and interpretative statements concerning the World Food Summit's Rome Declaration on World Food Security and the World Food Summit Plan of Action.

We would request that this statement by fully reflected in the final report of this Conference.

"We strongly object to the use of the phrases "appropriate Population Policies, Programmes and Family Planning Services: [Para 15(c)] and reproductive health services" [Para 22(a)] without specifically excluding abortion as part of these programmes and services.

The Nigerian delegation understands these terms to exclude abortion, or termination of pregnancy as a component of these programmes and services."


In the Name of Allah the Benevolent , the Merciful

Her Excellency, Secretary- General of the Summit

The delegation of the State of Qatar would like to express its reservations concerning all that is contained in the Rome Declaration and the World Food Summit Plan of Action which is in conflict with the rules of Sharia.

I. Fourth World Conference on Women (Beijing, 1995)

(a) page 12 of objective 1-3

II. World Summit for Social Development (Copenhagen, 1995)

(a) of objective 2-1, page 13

III International Conference on Population and Development (Cairo, 1994) (a) of objective 2-4, page 15

Accept, your excellency, the expression of my highest esteem and consideration

Representative of the State of Qatar
to Arab and International Agricultural Organizations


Permanent Mission of the
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to FAO

Her Excellency Kay Killingsworth
Secretary-General of the
World Food Summit

In reference to document WFS 96/3, the Rome Declaration on World Food Security and the World Food Summit Plan of Action,

I should like herein to emphasize reservations of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia as regards paras. 15(c), 16(a) and 22(a) of the abovementioned document considering that the Kingdom didn't participate in the Conferences referred to in these paragraphs. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia would also like to confirm its reservations to anything in the text that may be in conflict with the principles of Islamic Sharia.

This is in addition to the reservations which the Kingdom had expressed at the Twenty-Third FAO Regional Conference for the Near East held in Rabat in 1996, i.e. that it should be left to each State to adopt what it deems appropriate to implement the commitments set out in the policy statement and the Summit Plan of Action, noting that this had been emphasized in the meeting of the Near East group and in the meetings of the Committee of World Food Security that preceded the Summit.

Accept, your excellency, my best wishes.

Dr. Ahmad Suleiman Al-Aquil

Permanent Representative to the
Food and Agriculture Organization


In The Name Of Allah, The Benevolent, The Merciful

The delegation of Sudan would like to put on record its understanding of some paragraphs in the Rome Declaration on World Food Security and the World Food Summit Plan of Action as follows:

I. The Sudan delegation understands in the reference to achieving "early stabilization of the world population" in paragraph 5 of the Declaration, that methods to achieve this goal should not include abortion or sterilization, and that repression or coercion should not be means to realize it.

II. With regard to references to "appropriate population policies and programmes", "family planning" and "reproductive health" in paragraph 15- objective 1-2(c), 22-objective 2-4(a), the Sudan delegation understands that these do not mean, explicitly or implicitly, abortion as a method to achieve these objectives.

III. The Sudan delegation should like to reassert its understanding of any references to international conferences convened under the auspices of the United Nations mentioned in the Rome Declaration and the World Food Summit Plan of Action, that these must be accompanied by a clear reference to the reports including the declarations, programmes and plans of action of these conferences, together with the reservations of States and their clarifications of their understanding of the texts of these documents.

Dr. Nafie Ali Nafie

Minister of Agriculture & Forestry
Member of the Sudan Delegation to
the World Food Summit


His Excellency, Chairman of the World Food Summit
His Excellency, Director-General of the
Food and Agriculture Organization

The delegation of the Syrian Arab Republic expresses its reservations concerning paragraph 33(c) of the objectives and actions in the Plan of Action submitted to the World Food Summit on 13.11.96, and requests that the abovementioned paragraph be amended to read as follows:

"Develop national as well as regional, plans and policies in the regions where conditions for regional cooperation concerning national and international water exist, taking into consideration the established rights of states in international waters, in conformity with the principles of international law and water management techniques, promote economically, socially and environmentally sound irrigation improvement, in particular natural irrigation, and sustainable intensification of rainfed agriculture, with a view to increasing cropping intensities and reducing the impact of droughts and floods on food output, restoring natural resources, while at the same time preserving the quality and availability of water for other purposes, especially human consumption".

Asaad Mostafa

Minister of Agriculture & Agrarian Reform
Syrian Arab Republic



The Embassy of the United Arab Emirates in Rome presents its compliments to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and wishes to submit to the esteemed Organization the following reservations and interpretative statements concerning the World Food Summit's Plan of Action noticed by the U.A.E. Delegation to the Summit.

The U.A.E. Embassy would like to put on record that its commitment to any objectives on population policies, reproductive health services, and family planning services is subject to their not being in contradiction with Islamic Sharia or with the customs and traditions of U.A.E. society and the Constitution of the State.

The Government of the United Arab Emirates, pursuant of its Constitution and its laws, confirms that life is sacred and belongs only to the Creator, and that every person has a right to life, this being a fundamental and inalienable right, and that this right begins from the very moment of conception.

The U.A.E. Embassy, therefore, wishes to clarify that it is its understanding that the phrases "appropriate population policies, programmes, and family planning services" (para 15 - c), and "reproductive health services" (para 22 - a), do not include abortion.

Also, it is strongly believed that these unresolved and divisive issues should not have been included in a discussion of a document on food security and has diverted our time and attention from the purpose of this Summit - providing food for all.

The U.A.E. Embassy finds it a matter of serious concern that a call for "early stabilization of the world population" (pp.1-2) and population programmes are included in this document of food security. In practice, many population programmes are coercive and lead to serious violations of human rights. Just as no person should ever be coerced into sterilization, birth control or abortion in exchange for food, no international food assistance programme should be conditioned on governmental or institutional implementation of population programmes.

The U.A.E. Embassy would also like to state that whenever a previous UN conference is referenced in this document, that it is understood that the reference is to the conference Report including the reservations and interpretative statements.

The Embassy would like to emphasize that the implementation of the recommendations of this Declaration on World food Security and Draft World Food Summit Plan of Action is the sovereign right of each country, consistent with national laws and development priorities, with full respect for the various religious and ethical values and cultural backgrounds of its people, and in conformity with universally recognized international human rights.

The Embassy of the United Arab Emirates avails itself of this opportunity to renew to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations the assurances of its highest consideration.




First Paragraph

In joining consensus on this and other similar paragraphs of the Rome Declaration on World Food Security and the World Food Summit Plan of Action, the United States does not recognize any change in the current state of conventional or customary international law regarding rights related to food. The United States believes that the attainment of any "right to food" or "fundamental right to be free from hunger" is a goal or aspiration to be realized progressively that does not give rise to any international obligations nor diminish the responsibilities of national governments toward their citizens.

The United States understands and accepts the provisions of the "right of everyone to have access to safe and nutritious food" as an integral component of the right to a standard of living adequate for health and well-being, as set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which includes the opportunity to secure food, clothing, housing, medical care and necessary social services.

Fourth Paragraph

The United States understands and accepts the reference to a "right to development" in this and other paragraphs of the Rome Declaration on World Food Security and the World Food Summit Plan of Action to mean a right inherent in the individual that is an integral part of all human rights and fundamental freedoms. The lack of development cannot be invoked to justify abridgment of internationally recognized human rights.

Seventh Paragraph

The United States understands that the sentences in this paragraph are directly linked and must be read together, in the sense that all measures by a State affecting food security must be consistent with the Charter of the United Nations and international law.

Tenth Paragraph

The United States understands that this paragraph describes the actions States intend to take individually through their own national policies and collectively, as appropriate, with a view to realizing the goals enumerated.


Paragraph 12

The United States understands and accepts this paragraph to require actions taken by governments to implement the Plan of Action through the national laws and policies which must be in conformity with all human rights and fundamental freedoms. Various religious and ethical values, cultural backgrounds and philosophical convictions do not diminish the need for full respect for all human rights and fundamental freedoms.

Paragraph 53

With regard to subparagraph (e), the United States notes that it is not among those countries that have agreed to an official development assistance target. The United States will continue to provide high quality aid on a case-by-case basis as appropriate.

Paragraph 61

The United States understands and accepts that calls for action under particular treaties are germane only to States that are party to those treaties. Moreover, any specific actions called for can only be within the mandates of the organizations or bodies concerned. The United States does not understand this paragraph to support the development of any treaty, international agreement, or code of conduct regarding food security.

As to subparagraph (e), the United States believes that the term "voluntary guidelines" refers to voluntary programs to be implemented at national level to ensure that governments do not interfere with the effective opportunity or ability of their citizens to obtain safe and nutritious food, and which can be supplemented by other voluntary measures such as donor guidelines for humanitarian food aid.

ANNEX III: Reports on Parallel Events

NGO Forum, 11-17 November 1996

International Youth Forum, 15-16 November 1996

Parliamentarians' Day, 15 November 1996



In the next few minutes the diverse voices of civil society will speak as one. We are representatives of more than 1 200 organizations from some 80 countries, from all regions of the world. We seek to bring the message of the more than one billion hungry and malnourished people of the world, most of them children and women. Through regional and global consultations we have discovered and affirmed our mutual solidarity. Our collective vision derives from our knowledge that food security is possible. We regret that we will have but four minutes to share this vision with you.

We affirm first and foremost the basic human Right to Food. Everyone has the right to secure access at all times to safe and nutritious food and water adequate to sustain an active and healthy life with dignity.

Neither food nor famine can be used as a national or international political weapon. Access to food cannot be denied to any nation, ethnic or social group for political, economic, religious or other reasons. Economic embargoes or international sanctions affecting populations are incompatible with food security. Those currently in place must be terminated.

The shame of global hunger and malnutrition compels action by all. At the same time, we insist that governments have the primary and ultimate responsibility to ensure national and global food security.

The representatives of civil society gathered at the NGO Forum are in full agreement on some of the fundamental causes of food insecurity.

The globalization of the world economy, along with the lack of accountability of transnational corporations and spreading patterns of overconsumption have increased world poverty. Today's global economy is characterized by unemployment, low wages, destruction of rural economies, and bankruptcy of family farmers.

Industrialized agriculture, intensive animal husbandry methods, and overfishing are destroying traditional farming, poisoning the planet and all living beings. Subsidized exports, artificially low prices, constant dumping, and even some food aid programmes are increasing food insecurity and making people dependent on food they are unable to produce. The depletion of global grain stocks has increased market instability, to the detriment of small producers.

Family farmers and vulnerable people are forced under International Monetary Fund and World Bank policies to pay the price of structural adjustment and debt repayment. National policies too often neglect these same groups. Official corruption erodes all efforts to achieve food security.

The proliferation of war, civil conflict, and environmental degradation is a growing source of hunger and food insecurity. Hunger and malnutrition are most severe in cases where these combine with natural disasters.


We propose a new model for achieving food security that calls into question many of the existing assumptions, policies and practices. This model, based on decentralization, challenges the current model, based on a concentration of wealth and power, which now threatens global food security, cultural diversity, and the very ecosystems that sustain life on the planet.

We highlight six key elements of this alternative model, along with steps toward its development and implementation. An integrated approach is required, thus simultaneous action is needed in each of these areas.

1. The capacity of family farmers, including indigenous peoples, women, and youth, along with local and regional food systems must be strengthened.

All aspects of food and agriculture must be reoriented in favour of family farmers. This should include technical, managerial and financial support, credit, and direct access to markets for farmers' associations. It also should include a greater emphasis on safe and sustainable urban agriculture.

Women play a central role in food security and must be guaranteed the right to productive resources and equal opportunities to use and develop their skills.

Resources must be shifted in favour of local and regional food producers and food systems. Investment resources should be made available through debt exemption and debt relief, through a reallocation of existing international cooperation and allocation of additional resources by rich countries which should fulfil their commitment to appropriate 0.7 percent of Gross National Product to official development assistance.

Family farmers must be assured access to information and communications systems.

2. The concentration of wealth and power must be reversed and action taken to prevent further concentration. In particular:

Agrarian reform in favour of rural poor people who will work the land must be implemented immediately and priority placed on integrated rural development.

Genetic resources are essential to food security and must never be subject to intellectual property rights. Farmers' and community rights and the rights of indigenous peoples must be self-defined and implemented nationally and globally.

3. Agriculture and food production systems that rely on non-renewable resources, which negatively affect the environment, must be changed toward a model based on agro-ecological principles.

National and international research, education and extension services must be reoriented to integrate the agro-ecological paradigm, which incorporates the knowledge and experience of men and women farmers. Agro-ecological mapping should be carried out to detail areas of partial and total environmental degradation.

To prevent and reduce the impact of drought and desertification, access and sustainable management of water resources, rehabilitation, conservation and sustainable use of natural vegetation must be ensured.

Policies and practices that favour organic agricultural production should be adopted, with the goal of reducing or eliminating the use of pesticides and other agro-chemicals.

Environmental and social costs of industrial agriculture should be included in the prices of products in order to avoid unfair competition with sustainable agriculture.

A diversified, culturally acceptable, well-balanced diet and safe, high quality food for all must be ensured.

4. National and local governments and States have the prime responsibility to ensure food security. Their capacity to fulfil this role must be strengthened and mechanisms for ensuring accountability must be enhanced.

National policies to overcome poverty by guaranteeing means for sustainable livelihoods, employment opportunities for all, and an equitable income distribution must be implemented to improve the access of poor and vulnerable people to food products and to resources for agriculture.

States must guarantee the political and economic rights of those within their borders, including consumers' rights. States also must ensure a climate favourable to development and democratic processes, with efforts to protect the environment and prevent violence, terrorism, and discrimination of all kinds. States should respect international law.

Current structural adjustment programmes imposed by the International Monetary Fund and World Bank should be suspended. Future economic reforms and plans for debt repayment must be formulated with the participation of civil society.

States must make greater efforts to prevent and resolve conflicts peacefully; together with donor agencies, they must guarantee food for vulnerable populations, including displaced persons and refugees.

5. The participation of peoples' organizations and NGOs at all levels must be strengthened and deepened.

The right to free association must be guaranteed, including the right of family farmers, consumers, women, indigenous peoples, youth, and others to organize themselves.

Civil society should monitor the impact on food security of policies, programmes, and actions of international financial and trade organizations and should participate in the formulation and monitoring of national policies and programmes.

Civil society organizations also should participate in the efficient implementation of projects for food and agricultural development.

6. International law must guarantee the right to food, ensuring that food sovereignty takes precedence over macro-economic policies and trade liberalization. Food cannot be considered as a commodity, because of its social and cultural dimension.

Each nation must have the right to food sovereignty to achieve the level of food sufficiency and nutritional quality it considers appropriate without suffering retaliation of any kind. Market forces at national and international levels will not, by themselves, resolve the problem of food insecurity. In many cases, they may undermine or exacerbate food insecurity. The Uruguay Round agreements must be reviewed accordingly.

All countries and peoples have the right to develop their own agriculture. Agriculture fulfils multiple functions, all essential to achieving food security.

Negotiations should be carried out to develop more effective instruments to implement the right to food. These instruments should include:

- A Code of Conduct to govern the activities of those involved in achieving the Right to Food, including national and international institutions as well as private actors, such as transnational corporations.

- A Global Convention on Food Security to support governments in developing and implementing national food security plans and to create an international network of local, national, and regional food reserves. Such a convention must be signed to ensure that the Right to Food will have precedence over any other international agreements such as the World Trade Organization.

Structural food aid must be replaced progressively by support to local agriculture. When aid is the only alternative, priority should be given to local purchase and triangular aid, in which food is purchased in one country for distribution in the country of need in the same region.


Civil society organizations are committed to ensuring follow-up to this World Food Summit, particularly in monitoring the Food Summit commitments and active participation in the Food for All Campaign. In addition to the Global Convention on Food Security and the Code of Conduct, the Food for All initiative should become the basis for broad-based, participatory implementation at the local, national, and international levels of efforts to ensure the legal right to food. We also call for an expansion of the Committee for World Food Security to include all actors of civil society in the follow-up tasks assigned to the Committee.

Finally, hunger and malnutrition are fundamentally a question of justice. Unless we agree that the right of every human being to the sustenance of life comes before the quest for profit, the scourge of hunger and malnutrition will continue. Our message is simple: Queremos una tierra para vivir.

17 November 1996


We, the youth of more than 130 countries of the World, here united in the name of the International Youth Forum for the World Food Summit, do declare:

People must become aware about the universal need for bio-diversification. International organizations must collaborate with both governments and NGOs to implement innovative scientific farming techniques to improve agricultural production in developing nations. Investments must also be made in academic research institutions in order to ensure the execution of measures for the promotion of biological diversification.

Local resources in underdeveloped countries need to be developed through the greater exploitation of arable land, increased machinery use and scientific and technological developments. We ask that multinational corporations stop the exploitation of natural and human resources in underdeveloped nations. These international conglomerates should continue to invest in underdeveloped countries, but indigeneous people should assume the management of these regional plants.

A solid background in environmental education will give us a knowledge about ecology and an awareness of hydrologic contamination, atmospheric problems, toxic wastes, non-essential production facilities and other environmental problems which are gradually killing all life.

The countries of the world need to be educated about the positive effects of gender equality. We recognize that traditional attitudes towards women have to be changed to achieve this ultimate goal. Women must have basic human rights and global participation in society.

Traditional farming re-evaluation is a crucial issue for global food self-sufficiency. It is affected by the dissemination of commercial farming, the lack of arable lands and poor ecological conditions. Therefore, it is necessary to raise the awareness of people in these matters, to revise the agricultural policy of each country, to redistribute lands through agricultural reform and set up farmers' cooperatives in order to achieve food self reliance in countries.

There is an imbalance between the high consumption rates in wealthy countries in proportion to the global population. We need to change the mentality through education and awareness by advertising through media controlled by the Government and by emphasizing global environmental and intercultural awareness in schools by creating a special subject on the matter concerning both pratical and theoretical knowledge.

In order to create a balance, developing countries must show greater commitment to the production of food and developed countries must undertake to assist them in sustainable methods of production.

We call for the establishment of an international mediating committee to work for the cancellation of the debts of the poor and developing countries by the end of this millenium. This would signal a fresh start in strenghthening the economic foundation of these countries. The poor nations should use this opportunity to become independent by using their own resources thereby severing any dependence on the rich countries. It is imperative that global input is provided on the implementation of new ideas and advanced technology to aid in the enhancing of public facilities in the developing nations. The presence of a mediator such as FAO, IFAD, IMF and the World Bank is necessary when private organizations and developing countries attempt to arrive at a compromise to prevent private financial interests controlling the needs of those living below the poverty level.

We ask goverments to invest in public education systems since this gives individuals chances to become aware of and fight hunger and malnutrition. Education opens the path for the exploration of individual talents, ablities and resources. Only through education for all and its stable long-lasting effects will we be able to eradicate poverty and hunger.

We call upon civil authorities and policy-makers to develop strong commitments to the promotion and emphasis of an agricultural policy alongside industrial development. This can be achieved through effective education and communication means as well as infrastructure development in rural areas. Scientific innovations should be applied to agriculture to increase the quality and quantity of produce through breeding varieties that can easily adapt to different climates.

We request the help of the Heads of State in the establishment of Youth Associations at a school level where a delegate will be specified. These representatives will put forward their claims to national and international Bodies. These associations will have an acknowledged mandate to participate in FAO activities. Their role will consist of developing awareness-raising programmes at every level and encouraging the introduction of agronomic subjects in the academic system.

We ask that no more action plans should be undertaken without the participation of youth. This could be achieved through the formation of an International Youth Council which will promote the worldwide exchange of ideas without any discrimination of political, racial or social status.

We ask the Food and Agriculture Organization and the International Fund for Agricultural Development, which have stimulated and promoted the Youth Forum for the World Food Summit, to submit this declaration to all world leaders to enhance the policy of youthful involvement in the various sectors of civil society.

We further call for a follow-up to the International Youth Forum for the World Food Summit. In the next two years, youth in each country must review whether the promises of their countries have been translated into effective actions against the food crisis. To achieve this, youth must be empowered to participate in these projects, guaranteeing that they play a role in the evaluation of national policy changes and global progress.

17 November 1996


We, the parliamentarians gathered together in Rome on 15 November 1996 for a meeting organized by the Inter-Parliamentary Union on the occasion of the World Food Summit and at the invitation of the Italian Parliament, declare the following:

1. We express our keen concern at a situation where close to 800 million people throughout the world, in particular in the developing countries, suffer from chronic undernutrition. It is intolerable that almost 200 million children under five suffer from protein and energy deficiencies threatening their future, most often irremediably. Unless strong measures are taken urgently, hunger and food insecurity will persist and may even worsen dramatically in some regions of the world. The problem manifests itself on a global scale, even in some of the most affluent societies. This situation is an affront to human dignity, a social disease and a threat to democracy.

2. We recognize that food insecurity - for families, regions and nations alike - has many interdependent physical, geographical, political, economic and social causes. These affect economic development and have an impact on the income of individuals and entire nations alike, although the agricultural sector is particularly concerned. In tracing the root causes of food insecurity, we place particular emphasis on poverty, which must be eradicated if the proclaimed goal of "food for all" is to be attained.

3. Whereas peace, social justice, democracy and transparent and responsible governance are all preconditions for a nation's sustained economic and social development, increasing the efficiency of agricultural and food production is the key to ensuring an adequate food supply, which should be maintained at affordable prices worldwide, but especially in low-income, food-deficit countries.

4. Food production must be environmentally friendly. To this end, there is a need to widen public and private investment in the development of appropriate technologies and enhance the effectiveness of the transfer of such technologies to rural populations via training and outreach programmes.

5. Physical constraints on agricultural production, such as lack of water control, insecure input distribution circuits and limited access to markets, should be eliminated. Economic and social policies conducive to the creation of a favourable environment for agricultural production should be adopted, notably to ensure that all farmers and in particular rural women and young people enjoy access to know-how and means of production, including land and credit. Efficient mechanisms for ensuring the food security of the population will have to be implemented, in particular as regards access to adequate food for the poorest and the constitution of sufficient reserves.

6. Attainment of food security requires sustained action at the international level in a spirit of cooperation and solidarity between nations, with due consideration given to differences between their levels of development. Such action should be aimed at the promotion of trade and enhancement of trade liberalization, realized on equitable terms, at the development of environmentally-sound new technologies, protection of the planet's natural resources - in particular by promoting renewable energy and using biodiversity, at making genetic resources accessible in such a way as to guarantee the inalienable rights of the depositing nations, as well as at advancement of technical cooperation and the exchange of information. The contradiction between the needs of economic development per se and the imperative of making this development sustainable necessitates increased international assistance.

7. Whereas official development assistance - be it bilateral or multilateral - should be increased and restructured to take into account the needs of the agricultural sector, private investment in this sector should be likewise encouraged. Donors and financing agencies need to adopt a more radical approach towards improving the quality of development proposals that will make it possible to reverse the current downward trend of official development assistance. The amount of food aid to developing countries should be made sufficient to meet their emergency needs and be supplemented by assistance programmes which are focused on rehabilitation of the agricultural sector and are linked with social protection schemes ensuring adequate food for the poorest.

8. Reaffirming the right of all human beings to enjoy an adequate, healthy and well-balanced diet, we

9. We commit ourselves to the task of promoting the implementation of the Summit's Plan of Action within our respective parliaments. More particularly, we undertake to:

10. We urge the participants in the World Food Summit to give adequate attention to the present Declaration, we undertake ourselves to promote its ideas within our respective legislatures and request the Inter-Parliamentary Union to make it widely known in the world's parliaments and to set up, in cooperation with FAO, a mechanism to monitor the implementation, at parliamentary level, of the commitments taken in Rome.

15 November 1996

ANNEX IV: Participating countries and organizations



The Observer from the Sovereign Order of Malta was represented


United Nations

- United Nations Economic Commission for Africa

United Nations Children's Fund

United Nations Conference on Trade and Development

United Nations Development Programme

United Nations Environment Programme

United Nations Population Fund

World Food Programme

United Nations Centre for Human Settlements (Habitat)

Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees

United Nations University

International Labour Organization

United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization

World Health Organization

World Bank/International Finance Corporation

International Monetary Fund

World Meteorological Organization

International Fund for Agricultural Development

United Nations Industrial Development Organization

International Atomic Energy Agency

World Trade Organization

United Nations Volunteers

United Nations Interim Secretariat of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification

United Nations Development Fund for Women

United Nations Non-Governmental Liaison Service



























GROUP OF 77 (New York Office)































A large number of non-governmental organizations attended the Summit. The full list is given in document WFS 96/INF/1 Rev.1.

ANNEX V: List of documents


WFS 96/1 Programme of Work of the World Food Summit

WFS 96/2 Provisional Rules of Procedure of the World Food Summit

WFS 96/3 Rome Declaration on World Food Security and World Food Summit Plan of Action

WFS 96/3-Corr.1 (E F S only) Rome Declaration on World Food Security and World Food Summit Plan of Action - CORRIGENDUM

WFS 96/INF/1 Provisional List of Participants

WFS 96/INF/1 Part II Provisional List of Participants

WFS 96/INF/2 The "Quebec Declaration" and the "Report of the Ministerial Meeting on World Food Security" (Quebec City, Canada, 14-16 October 1995)

WFS 96/INF/3 List of Documents

WFS 96/INF/4 Extract from the report of the 22nd session of the Committee on World Food Security

WFS 96/INF/5 Statement by the Director-General

WFS 96/INF/6 Reservations and/or Interpretative Statements on the Rome Declaration and Plan of Action

WFS 96/LIM/1 First Interim Report of the Credentials Committee

WFS 96/LIM/2 Second Interim Report of the Credentials Committee

WFS 96/LIM/3 Third Interim Report of the Credentials Committee

WFS 96/LIM/4 Final Report of the Credentials Committee

ANNEX VI: Closing statements


My first words will be words of gratitude to all of you who have flown from the different parts of the world and very often from very far away. You have done it because you considered that you belonged to the same international community and the same family of nations and human beings.

Despite your very important responsibilities, in view of the high position you hold, you have determined that coming here, to try to get together with a view to helping 800 million people around the world, would hold some hope that their situation will improve. The fact that so many Heads of State and Government, so many Deputy Prime Ministers, so many Ministers, so many representatives of your people are here, in the true spirit of universality of the United Nations, to work together, is certainly, for us, the best reason to consider that our efforts of two and a half years to prepare for this Summit have not been in vain.

It is also the reason for us to be convinced that the dedication, the commitment and the ethical sense of the issues you have shown, will guarantee action, will guarantee follow-up, will guarantee that beyond international commitments and policies, we will go over to the national level where decisions are made; and that we will find the leaders at national level themselves in the forefront with their people, because they are the ones responsible for, and the only ones who can ensure, their economic and social development. That we also have by their side those who live in the developed world, the international community, FAO and sister institutions of the UN system, the Bretton Woods institutions and the regional financial organizations, assures us that we will all work together hand-in-hand to ensure that young children and babies will not cry of hunger and that mothers will not be looking at children who have no hope. We have the possibility to do it, we have the know-how, we have the resources, and with the Rome Declaration and the Plan of Action we have shown that we have the will.

Let us now run against time to go beyond the set goal of halving the number of hungry by the year 2015. This is not a maximum goal, it is a minimum goal and I am convinced that what you have shown here, during these days that are history, is certainly the greatest indication that together we will win against poverty, we will win against scepticism, we will win against cynicism, we will win against egoism, and that the best of human values will prevail in the relations among nations, among states, among countries and within communities.

Thank you for having given me your support, and may God bless you.


These past five days have been for all of us an important milestone, a milestone in our common path toward lasting food security for all the world's people. With the adoption of the Rome Declaration and the World Food Summit Plan of Action we have concluded a negotiating process. We have achieved significant consensus on what needs to be done to relieve the suffering of those who are hungry and to ensure accessible food supplies for an expanding population in the years ahead. We have succeeded in focusing the attention of today's busy world on the fact that hundreds of millions of people still live in chronic hunger.

This is a shameful reality, often forgotten, continuing even as thousands of others may suffer and die in the course of events such as those unfolding this week in Central Africa. Before the eyes of the world we have made a public commitment to take the steps that will move us forward closer to the ultimate goal of "food for all". We have done all these things and yet it is only now that the real work begins. The Plan of Action gives us a clear indication of the work at the community level, at the regional level and internationally. It speaks of national responsibility and international solidarity, the involvement of civil society and the involvement of the private sector, the need for investment, policy review, serious attention to the role of women. There is much to be done.

The Rome Declaration calls upon us to reduce by half the number of chronically undernourished people on the Earth by the year 2015. Many have said that this goal is too modest, that it would leave behind too many millions. This is fair criticism and one that I take to heart. I think that as we go out from here this evening and return to our homes and to our daily routines, it is incumbent upon us to incorporate the commitments we have made here in November 1996, to allow them to inform and influence the work we do whether it be government, community service, farming, advocacy, the private sector, or emergency relief. If each of us gives his or her best I believe that we can meet and even exceed the target we have set for ourselves. Twenty years from now, and I wish everybody may be here twenty years from now, that is how history will judge the World Food Summit of 1996.

Thank you very much to all of you.

I am proud and happy to declare closed this wonderful meeting.