| 08-10-2018

A people’s perspective on the most violated right in the world

A civil society-led report draws attention to the main challenges for the right to food and demonstrates that ‘business as usual’ simply does not work.

Following a broad consultation amongst social movements, indigenous peoples, small-scale food producers and NGOs, a new report is shedding light on the main obstacles – often unaddressed – that we face to meet one of our most basic right. Evolving around the use and implementation of the Voluntary Guidelines to Support the Progressive Realization of the Right to Adequate Food in the Context of National Food Security (the RTF Guidelines)*, its findings demonstrate that the primacy of private sector interests is in fact perpetuating world hunger. There still remains a significant gap between policy and normative development and the realization of the right to food, as evidenced by the increasing rates of global hunger and malnutrition.

The report is a contribution from the Civil Society Mechanism (CSM) to the Global Thematic Event on the RTF Guidelines to be held during the 45th session of the CFS in October 2018. As such, it aims to promote “learning from experience” and accountability in the CFS, the foremost inclusive international and intergovernmental platform on food security and nutrition, and to reinforcing the important role of monitoring within this policy space.

Addressing the unaddressed root causes

Today, hundreds of millions of individuals –     some 821 million according to the latest updates – remain food insecure. Mainstream reports cite the increasing number of conflicts and climate-shocks as the main driver of rising levels of hunger and malnutrition, together with growing rates of unemployment and the deterioration of social protection nets. However, this analysis fails to fully address key root causes linked to gender, race, class, and access to resources – present in the daily lives of the majority of the population.

These lead millions to lack consistent physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs. They face obstacles to securing an adequate income to purchase the food needed to feed their families in a dignified manner, and to acquiring rights and access to the resources – water, land, seeds, biodiversity – necessary to produce food.

Business as usual, lack of state support

By the same token, the increasing influence of corporations in food production and consumption habits, pricing, and marketing, is often disregarded. Currently, many laws and policies support industrial, mono-culture modes of agricultural and food production that feed corporate supply chains and harm the environment. Meanwhile rates of malnutrition continue to soar, with massive impacts on the health and wellbeing of populations across the globe.

Meanwhile, those who seek to defend their own right to food, and that of their communities and peoples, face retaliation, criminalization, persecution and – all too often – death. These and many other violations occur daily, in all corners of the planet, most often in the absence of any possibility of recourse, access to justice, or enforcing state accountability.

Right to food, a powerful tool

The right to food remains an indispensable tool for ensuring a world free from hunger and malnutrition, with sustainable food systems that respect human dignity.  Its realization is foundational for achieving food security, poverty eradication, sustainable livelihoods, social stability, peace and security, economic growth, and rural and social development. What’s more, ambitious targets set forth in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for 2030 simply won’t be achieved without it.

It is key that while space for human rights is shrinking, we pay attention to a sobering warning: unless we change course, right to food violations will continue to increase.

You can access the report     here.


* Spurred by a determined alliance of governments, civil society organizations (CSOs) and UN offices, the RTF Guidelines were negotiated through a participatory process in the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) and adopted unanimously by all member states of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in 2004. Since their adoption, the RTF Guidelines have been used to create tool kits and policy guidance to assist states with national implementation. They have also been used, particularly by the Right to Food Unit at the FAO, to assist governments in adopting national strategies and legislation aimed at right to food realization.