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Right to Food Guidelines discussed at the 40th session of the CFS

News - 14.10.2013

Rome – 9 October 2013. In the context of the 40th session of the Committee on World Food Security, FAO organized jointly with the Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights the side event “Right to Food Guidelines: Ten Years of Implementation”. During the side event, a number of points were brought up, which will be useful to consider in the context of the 10 Years Review of the Right to Food Guidelines (retrospective).

The side event offered a platform to exchange stories and concrete examples from countries and also from regional mechanisms currently working together with the common objective of ensuring the progressive realization of the right to food at different levels. These cases also provided valuable guidance on a number of focus areas which could constitute the bulk of the analysis for a retrospective on the right to food. These stories and concrete examples did so by illustrating specific gaps to be addressed in different contexts and by providing a better understanding of what are successful strategies and processes that can really work, at different levels. In a nutshell, they showed that it is possible to make the right to food a reality for all, combating food insecurity and malnutrition.

Photos: ©Tomaso Lezzi

Firstly, they revealed the intrinsic importance ofcoming together in a multi-stakeholder and sectoral way at national level and taking time to build ‘home-grown frameworks’ which empower countries to significantly advance on the realization of the right to food at national level. This is the case of Zimbabwe, a country which underwent a long and thorough inter sectoral process leading to the inclusion of the right to food in the country’s new Constitution.

Secondly, it stressed the need to invest in regional and national mechanisms relevant for the right to food and encourage them to work closely together. The most exemplary case is the one of the fourteen National Parliamentary Fronts Against Hunger in Latin America and the Caribbean and the approval in January 2012 of the framework law on food sovereignty, food security and nutrition, and the right to food in the PARLATINO.

Lastly, the event helped reflecting on the importance of assigning public budgets to the guarantee, protection and fulfillment of the right to food; on the critical role and participation of partners and stakeholders such as Academia and Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) in ensuring that countries maintain their commitments towards the realization of the right to food; of increasing capacity, education and awareness at all levels; and lastly on the importance of maintaining coherence between human rights and national policies, accountability and the role of the private sector. These concrete recommendations were made in the context of the experiences from countries like Cambodia and Laos, which highlighted the intricate linkages with areas such as access to justice and land, recently embedded in the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests (VGGT), and how they can significantly contribute to the implementation of the right to food at national level; and finally, the case of India which showed how timely and efficient research and assessment have ensured taking concrete steps towards the realization of right to food with minimum financial costs, which often represent a burden for countries wishing to implement the Right to Food Guidelines.

The issue of accountability and the private sector was further exemplified by a discussion on the amount of money spent on promotional campaign by food companies, the role of governments and their obligations related to the right to food, and the consequences of individuals’ access to impartial and accurate information in order to make informed nutritional choices to address health related problems. Lastly, to remind us of the different factors that can influence the implementation of the right to food at national level and which can both improve governance and close governance gaps on food security and nutrition issues at national level, a few remarks considered the newly adopted Indian National Food Security Act, and how it will be submitted to the WTO regulations in order to review its compliance with India’s WTO obligations.

These insights and experiences were illustrated and shared by a distinguished group of right to food experts, coming from different backgrounds, who were assembled as panelists. This group included: Olivier De Schutter, UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food; Ambassador Mary Sibusisiwe Mubi, Permanent Representative of Zimbabwe to Rome based UN agencies; Guadalupe Valdez, Member of Parliament of the Dominican Republic, Regional coordinator of the Parliamentarian Front against Hunger in Latin America and Caribbean; Flavio Valente, Secretary General of FIAN International; Christophe Golay, Project Coordinator on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights. Moreover, Jomo Kwame Sundaram, Assistant Director-General of the Economic and Social Development Department of FAO acted as the moderator.

The side event was attended by over 100 people and provided also an opportunity to discuss how stakeholders can be involved in the process leading up to the 41st session of the CFS.

Since the adoption of the Right to Food Guidelines in 2004 by the FAO Council, important developments related to the right to food have taken place. At its 39th session, the CFS decided to undertake a ten year retrospective on progress made in the implementation of the Right to Food Guidelines which will be reviewed during its 41st Session in October 2014.

As the first step of the process that will lead to the 10 Years retrospective, the ideas and outcomes put forth during the side event pave the way for a participatory and inclusive process that will look back on progress made, exchange experiences and lessons learned, and document best practices so as to move forward and enhance the contribution of the Right to Food Guidelines in the fight to eradicate hunger and realize the right to food for all.

Permanent link to webcast (only in English):


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