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Gustavson Right to Food

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					   The Right to Food
 An Illustration of Poverty and
    Human Rights in Action
          Daniel Gustafson
FAO Representative in India and Bhutan
Importance of the RtF in relation to
    themes of the Conference
   Specific application within the
    concept of poverty and HR– concrete
    operational implications.
   Complex issues, ideological disputes
    -- the RtF is an exciting arena of
    current action (globally and in India).
   Example of how the law can support
    implementation of abstract rights.
           Poverty and Hunger
Amartya Sen: “Starvation is the characteristic
 of some people not having enough food to
 eat. It is not the characteristic of there not
 being enough food to eat.”

   Hunger is both an effect and a cause of
    poverty.
   Anti-hunger programme requires both
    improved production and improved access.
   Econ. growth contributes to progressive
    realization of the RtF and vice versa.
The efficiency cost of hunger : a quantitative assessment
(Undernourishment and Economic Growth – Jean-Louis Arcand)
        Why Use a Human Rights
              Approach?
   UDHR and ICESCR: right to adequate
    standard of living.
   Secretary-General’s call in 1997 for
    integration of HR in all of areas of UN.
   Most important: Shift from basic human
    needs and view of quantitative deficit to
    “next frontier” where burden of proof
    shifts and “beneficiaries” become active
    subjects and claim holders.
          World Food Summit
   Leaders considered levels of hunger
    intolerable; hunger seen as morally
    unacceptable.
   Problem not quantity of food but lack of
    political will and insufficient resources
    mobilised.
   HR approach builds on this conviction,
    introducing accountability dimension and
    implementation concerns.
           Normative Content
General Comment 12 of CESCR:
“The right to adequate food is realised when
  every man, women and child, alone or in
  community with others, have physical and
  economic access at all times to adequate
  food or means for its procurement.”

   Obligation of state is to take steps to
    achieve progressively the full realisation of
    the right to adequate food.
    Contention/Confusion/Complexity
   Common misunderstanding that RtF
    means state needs to provide food: i.e.,
    right to be fed.
   Food is a private good, unlike other rights.
   Depends on myriad actors: production,
    distribution, safety, etc.
   Complex set of transactions between
    impersonal market and free individual.
   Multiple levels of government involved.
          Areas of Consensus
   State has obligations and responsibilities
    regarding food, which HR approach helps
    spell out.
   Right to be fed is recognized when
    necessary to save lives—as last resort.
   Judgements about policy measures and
    effectiveness of programmes are
    necessary.
   Poverty reduction requires more
    productive households + social safety
    nets.
   Roles for government, private sector, civil
    society and partnerships amongst them.
     Levels of State Obligations
   To respect: limits on state power (e.g.,
    not to interfere in livelihoods).
   To protect: regulate conduct of non-state
    actors (e.g., food safety, environment,
    land tenure).
   To fulfil: positive actions by state to
    identify vulnerable groups, facilitate
    access, provide safety net (e.g., India
    Supreme Court case, KBK districts).
      Utility of a Framework Law on the
                  Right to Food
   Constitutional guarantees in some countries
    (e.g., South Africa, India), but little on who has
    responsibility for what.
   Legal/Regulatory framework could be useful to:
    • Set principles, targets and benchmarks;
    • Assign responsibility to various levels;
    • Improve accountability through more precise
      responsibility and information;
    • Formalise participation and roles of NGOs and civil
      society in general.
    Inter-Governmental Working Group
   1996 WFS request to OHCHR for better
    definition of Right to Food.
   2002 request to FAO to set up IGWG to
    “elaborate voluntary guidelines to achieve
    progressive realisation of the right to
    adequate food in context of national food
    security.”
   March 2003 first session; workshop in Oct.
   Case studies—including India.
   Guidelines to be completed within two years,
    based on best practice, consultations.
                Conclusions
   Human rights and poverty approach
    provides critical value
    • Perspective: Active subjects with claims
    • Need to consider obligations + perfor-
      mance of government programmes
   Right to Food is a human right that
    can be realised and implemented.
   Legal/judicial perspective adds value.
   India is among those at the forefront.

				
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