(February 8, 2009) This is a special Hunger Notes report on the right to food. Why shouldn’t people have enough food, earned in the usual case by working, to keep themselves alive and alert? A very reasonable goal, but one which is far from being met, though there has been significant progress in the past 10 years. This report examines both the progress and the frustrations.
It is divided into the following sections.
- the human right to food
- the human right to food in developing countries
- the human right to food in the United States
- 1998 articles
The Human Right to Food
Ellen Messer and Marc Cohen in the first section of their article US Approaches to Food and Nutrition Rights, 1976-2008 provide a succinct introduction to the development of the human right to food in the United Nations system. This is a fascinating history.
The human right to food has its contemporary origin within the U.N. Universal Human Rights framework. The main reference point is located within the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) (U.N. 1948), Article 25, which states, “Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and his family, including food.” It provided a reference point for human rights legislation that followed but is not itself a binding international legal instrument.1
The modern human rights framework for a specific right essentially consists of a legal framework in a country that establishes something as a right, including an effective procedure for enforcing the right, a process for adjudicating individual rights cases (which can involve different interpretations of the legal framework), and resources provided to address the outcome of rights decisions. In the United States two good examples would be the right to bear arms or the right to asylum. There is a legal code that defines the right, has the ability to actually influence outcomes, a procedure for adjudicating different definitions, and money provided to facilitate the process and outcomes. In the case of asylum for example, United States has provided various legal reasons permitting asylum in the United States for various groups, a process for adjudicating disputes, and billions of dollars to permit and facilitate this asylum.
What has evolved has been progressive implementation of the right to food.
MET ML 720 SB1 Food Policy & Food Systems