The Right to Food

A human rights agenda brings benefits for policy-making

Events - 06.11.2019

6 November 2019, Rome- “Every day, the very core idea of human rights is threatened; if people are threatened, so are their human rights; we are born with human rights”. Through this powerful extract of a famous quote by Eleanor Roosevelt, Juan Carlos García y Cebolla Right to Food Team Leader of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), begun his speech at the Italian Lower house today.

The Right to Food Team of FAO was invited to a conference organized by the association Peace Generation, and commemorating three important occasions: the 10th Anniversary of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union (CFR), the 70th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and the International Day for Preventing the Exploitation of the Environment in War and Armed Conflict.

García y Cebolla stressed that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights profoundly influenced the Right to Food Guidelines, which were adopted 15 years ago by the FAO Council. This global policy instrument calls to shift from business as usual to a human rights-based approachin order to address global problems. As shown in the implementation of the Guidelines in the last decade and a half, fighting against hunger and malnutrition requires coherence between different policy areas and an overall vision to human development.

One of the issues discussed during the event was the concept of universality for human rights. In this sense, Guido Raimondi, former President of the European Union Court of Human Rights, referred to the European Union Convention on Human Rights: “it is applicable to all, even those who are not subject to a country’s rule of law or jurisdiction”. He added that the Convention is “a legally binding and it is intrinsically linked to the preamble of the UDHR to avoid the risk of regionalisms in how the Convention is intended”, Raimondi added.

During his intervention, he read a letter from Italy’s President, Sergio Mattarella: “Let us remember that the United Nations General Assembly, decided to change the former name of the UDHR from International to Universal to highlight the universality of human rights for all human beings.”

Laying the foundations for a more just world

Since the turn of the XX century, significant progress was made at different levels to respect, protect and fulfil  human rights, among them the right to adequate food. Globally, the starting point was the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948, which was subsequently developed into legally binding agreements such as the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) in 1966. Since then, additional international legal guarantees were afforded to specific groups, such as women, children and persons living with disabilities. However, exclusion, inequality and vulnerability are still hindering the enjoyment of human rights around the globe.

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