UN expert urges legal reforms to fight global hunger crisis

UN expert urges legal reforms to fight global hunger crisis

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[JURIST] UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food [official website] Olivier De Schutter [official profile] on Friday urged reforms [UN News Centre report] to legal systems to fight hunger and promote the right to food. The UN High-Level Task Force for the Global Food Crisis [official website] is meeting next week in Dublin to update the 2008 Comprehensive Framework of Action on Food [text, PDF]. In response to the global food price crisis, De Schutter has been reviewing the progress of countries' national adoption of the right to food, submitting reports on Benin, Brazil, Guatemala, and Nicaragua [texts, PDF] to the UN Human Rights Council [official website]. De Schutter emphasized the need for adequate legal mechanisms in remedying the global hunger crisis:

We tend to forget that in the fight against hunger, processes and institutions are as vital as new seeds; legal frameworks as necessary as agricultural investments; and participatory institutions as impactful in the long term as bags of fertilizers.

De Schutter's review cites successful legal measures that have upheld the right to food. In 2007, the South African Equity Court urged parties in a fishing dispute to develop new legislative policies to recognize fishermen's rights to equitable marine resources. In 2003, Brazil launched a "Zero Hunger" strategy with legal reforms that require 30 percent of school food to be purchased from family farms. Additionally, a 2001 India Supreme Court case has resulted in universal mid-day meals benefiting more than 118 million Indian children.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon [official website] has historically called for an increased effort to uphold the "fundamental human right" to food [JURIST report] for people around the world who suffer from chronic hunger. The right to adequate food is recognized in Articles 24(2)(c) and 27(3) of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, Article 12(2) of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, and Articles 25(f) and 28(1) of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Article 25 of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights [texts] adopted by the UN in 1948 states that "Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food."