Policy Support and Governance Gateway
©FAO/Olivier Asselin

Right to Food

Enough food is produced to feed everyone – however, up to 828 million people suffer from hunger and 3.1 billion cannot afford a healthy diet. Every woman, man and child has the right to adequate food.

Working to realize the fundamental right to adequate food.

FAO promotes a cross-cutting human rights-based approach to food security and nutrition that strengthens legal, policy and institutional environments. It is the key to tackle the root causes of hunger and malnutrition and to achieve zero hunger.

Freedom from hunger is a constitutional objective of FAO. In 2004, FAO Member Nations adopted the Voluntary Guidelines to support the progressive realization of the right to adequate food in the context of national food security.

FAO encourages countries to implement the Voluntary Guidelines by: developing methodologies and analytical tools; assisting in the formulation, implementation and monitoring of policies and programmes; promoting global and regional governance of food security and nutrition and facilitating partnerships.

Key policy messages

·        The right to adequate food is a legal obligation under international law. It was first recognized as a human right in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Article 25) in 1948. In 1966,the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights was adopted, which provides a legal guarantee for the fundamental right to be free from hunger as well as the progressive realization of the right to adequate food (Article 11). To date, 171 States Parties have ratified this binding agreement.

·        Governance is improved by enhancing stakeholders dialogue and coordination mechanisms. Better and more coherent policies are achieved through inclusive and transparent processes. In this sense, empowering right-holders and ensuring their meaningful participation throughout processes contribute to increased accountability and transparency.

·        Addressing the underlying causes of hunger requires periodic assessments of human rights standards and principles, policies, programmes and laws to provide decision-makers with evidence-based support.

·        The effectiveness and efficiency of public expenditure on food and nutrition security is improved due to increased capacity of government representatives, parliamentarians and civil society in budget analysis and expenditure tracking. The Right to Food Guidelines offer concrete guidance to promote a set of human rights principles in policy processes through: participation, accountability, non-discrimination, transparency, human dignity, empowerment and rule of law.

·        COVID-19 is putting people’s right to adequate food at stake in all countries of the world, even to those who have never been under risk before. The pandemic is demonstrating the importance of prevention, preparedness, access and affordability of healthy diets. There is a need to adopt an integrated approach that pays closer attention to the linkages between food, health and all the human rights.

·        Collaboration with diverse stakeholders, including consumer organizations, is a vital element in ensuring the right to adequate food for all. In order to ameliorate food governance on issues such as food safety, fair prices, correct labelling and consumer protection, it is necessary to raise awareness, disseminate vital information and promote inclusivity throughout decision making processes. Listening to consumers increases knowledge, and knowledge leads to well-informed, sustainable practices. 


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