War and violence focus of 2022 State of the Right to Food and Nutrition Report
This year's State of the Right to Food and Nutrition Report coincides with discussions on food and nutrition at the United Nations Human Rights Council. The report is a joint endeavor of the Global Network for the Right to Food and Nutrition which provides an annual snapshot of this key human right around the world.
Reflecting global developments, the report focuses this year on the connection between war, systemic violence, and structural inequality. It examines how powerful economic actors, notably states and corporations, use conflict, occupation, and war to create and perpetuate their dominance over food systems. The report also identifies national and regional trends some of which were also provided as inputs to a major report from the UN Special Rapporteur Michael Fakhri on Conflict and the Right to Food.
Conflict, occupation and structural inequalities
The Russian invasion of Ukraine disrupted the global food system and added another layer to the multilayered global food crisis. However, despite dominating global headlines it was not the only conflict causing record levels of internally displaced people.
Most undernourished people continued to live in countries experiencing armed conflict such as Burkina Faso and parts of the MENA region, which go largely unnoticed by mainstream media.
Across Asia, home to half of all people facing hunger worldwide, deep-rooted inequalities and discrimination, landlessness, and poor wages were exacerbated by poor implementation of anti-poverty schemes and programs. This was compounded by increasing authoritarianism, coupled with shrinking space for civil society which continues to widen the gap between the poor and rich.
Private financial entities continue to hold an increasing part of African countries' external debt, which has reduced the capacities of states such as Ghana, Zambia, Kenya, and Nigeria to adequately respond to the food crisis at the national level.
Hunger increased by 30% in Latin America and the Caribbean in recent years and high dependence on fertilizer imports and rising food prices have impacted livelihoods and access to healthy diets. Some peasant communities have mitigated the impact of the crisis by recovering traditional agroecological practices and native seeds and supporting each other through solidarity initiatives.
No coordinated response to global food crisis
This latest food crisis has not been met by a coordinated multilateral and human rights-based response prioritizing the voices of the most affected countries and peoples. Instead, we have seen a plethora of overlapping and competing initiatives which hinder urgently needed coordinated actions. This could have been avoided by empowering the UN body with a mandate to coordinate, give policy responses and provide for the official participation of the most affected groups: the UN Committee on World Food Security (CFS).
However, the mandate and role of the CFS has been undermined by powerful governments and corporations using the global food crisis to weaken inclusive global food governance and promote multi-stakeholderism. They have introduced piecemeal and ineffective initiatives because they are unwilling to address the root causes of a failing system that serves their interests. This approach ignores the fact that food import dependency means vulnerability, especially for poor countries and peoples. Just eight countries account for 90% of the world's wheat exports, and just four companies control the vast majority of the global grain trade.
Long-term solutions to multiple global crises cannot be found under such conditions of unregulated power and control of dominant food systems by corporations and wealthy governments. Civil society, Indigenous Peoples and social movements are calling for a different approach which supports local food sovereignty and agroecology based on human rights and public interest.
The content of this report is based on inputs from members of the Global Network on the Right to Food and Nutrition (GNRtFN), complemented with information provided by other networks, as well as relevant surveys and reports, such as from the Civil Society and Indigenous Peoples Mechanism (CSIPM). The Report is part of the GNRtFN's broader monitoring initiatives: The Peoples' Monitoring Tool for the Right to Food and Nutrition and the feminist guide to Cooking up Political Agendas.
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