Global Forum on Food Security and Nutrition (FSN Forum)

UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food comments on the V0 draft of the report on Reducing inequalities for food security and nutrition.

"I wish to congratulate the High Level Panel of Experts on Food Security and Nutrition (HLPE-FSN) for the excellent “0” Version of the report and would like to thank for the opportunity to provide some comments and contributions from a human rights perspective." - Michael Fakhri, UN SR on the Right to Food.

  1. The V0 draft introduces a conceptual framework informed by key principles established in previous HLPE-FSN reports (HLPE, 2017; HLPE, 2020), including agency, equity and justice.

The proposed framework is effective to highlight and discuss the key issues about inequity and inequality for food security and nutrition. However, is extremely important when presenting the framework, to stress how human rights instruments such as Human rights treaties and in particular the International Covenant on Social Economic and Cultural rights can provide practical guide to policy makers to operationalize these principles. They are a means to ensure entitlements and measures to monitor their achievement. Also, instruments such as the most recently adopted UN Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and other People Working in Rural Areas, can provide a guide to incorporate norms and standards of agency, equity and justice into national laws and policies, in favour of those categories of people that are so important for the human right to food.

  1. The report adopts the definition of food security, proposed by the HLPE-FSN in 2020, which includes six dimensions of food security: availability, access, utilization, stability, agency and sustainability.

In my reports I mentioned “structural inequalities” as a root cause of human rights violations. Human rights law requires not only focusing on people who are poor, vulnerable, or marginalized but more importantly to scrutinize how people are made poor, vulnerable, or marginalized.[1]   

Coherently with the framework identified above, equity and justice are indispensable elements to achieve food security. Therefore, these two principles could be added as transversal pillars to grant food security and the right to food in a substantive way. As I underlined in my report, we should scrutinize how inequality is produced, as it is not a natural occurrence but is produced by systems, including food systems.

Ending any form of violence across the food system is also indispensable condition to grant food security in an interdependent world.

  1. The report adopts definitions of inequalities, inequities, injustice, unfairness, exclusion, marginalization, discrimination, patriarchy, racism, colonialism, ableism, empowerment…

In my upcoming report to be presented to the Human Rights Council in March 2023 I am suggesting adding another form of violence, which is in turn a cause of inequality: “erasure”. Erasure can refer to the “practice of collective indifference that renders certain people and groups invisible”[2]. It arises from the narratives that set and are produced by political agendas, raising questions such as, whose stories are taught and told and by whom? Whose knowledge and experience are prioritized? Whose struggles are recognized? Whose dead are mourned? 

  1. The deeper layer of structural drivers fundamental to understanding inequity, including sociocultural, economic and political aspects are examined, as well as actions and policies to reduce inequalities that mirrors these layers of drivers.

In my upcoming report I am suggesting a link between violence and inequality as mutual supportive drivers.  Structural inequality has made mass amounts of people more vulnerable to violence; in turn, systemic violence has been a significant cause of structural inequality. This vicious cycle of structural inequality and systemic violence causes widespread human rights violations.[3] Food systems not only produce food but also generate and amplify violence that makes people more poor, vulnerable, and marginalized. I also highlighted how the “dependency path” whereby many countries are made dependent on food or fertilizer import for their food security made them particularly vulnerable to stress, shock, and crisis. I suggest the dependency on fertilizers, included its harmful impact on human and soil health could be highlighted as a fragility to deal with in the chapter 6 of the HLPE: “Transformations necessary for positive structural change to reduce inequalities in FSN”, coherently with the mention of agroecology as a solution.

                    [1]   See A/HRC/41/39.

                    [3]   See A/75/148, A/75/163, A/75/258, A/77/174 and A/77/177.