24 September 2012

“Governments must keep their promises on the Right to Food” says the UN Special Rapporteur

It is important to integrate the commitment to the Right to Food at national level and this must include accountability mechanisms, the UN Special Rapporteur on the “Right to Food”, Mr. Olivier de Schutter, has said in an exclusive interview with Caritas Europa.  The Right to Food must be understood in a very participative manner, this means involving Civil Society Organisations in the development of the monitoring mechanisms.

On the occasion of the Panel ‘Free Humanity from hunger’ at the European Development Days (17 October 2012), organised by Caritas Europa, CIDSE and CYNDEP, UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food Mr. Olivier De Schutter presents the importance of integrating the Right to Food in the Beyond 2015 Framework.

“Since the World Food Summit in 1996, the Right to Food has been making tremendous progress in a number of regions, particularly in Latin America but now increasingly in Africa and Asia. That is very encouraging, because the Right to Food can effectively contribute to fight against food insecurity and poverty, says Mr. de Schutter in his video message with Caritas Europa.

“First, the Right to Food means that government’s promises shall move towards sustainable development and reduction of poverty and should be kept. Why? Because the Right to Food establishes accountability mechanisms, mechanisms in which civil society organisations can ask governments to justify their choices.  The Right to Food also requires that whatever progress is made is monitored by independent bodies, on the basis of indicators that track progress and increase pressure on governments, so that they keep their promises,” he says.

For this reason, the Millennium Development Goals adopted in 2000 were not sufficient.  Mr de Schutter considers the Right to Food and its implementation at national level must be supported by locally-led monitoring.  This is essential in reinforcing accountability mechanisms and ownership by the population. The Right to Food is about participation.  It is about seeking the views of those who must benefit from whichever initiatives are adopted.  It provides a means both to empower people in the development process to articulate their priorities while taking greater decision-making control over their lives, and to enable them to hold duty-bearers more to account for delivery and performance.

“Food is essential to life and there is more than enough capacity in the world to ensure that all people are fed”, said IFSW Secretary General Rory Truell.  “Yet our systems of production and distribution result in thousands of tons of food being thrown away in some countries while people go hungry just streets away and are dying of hunger in other regions.  Social workers know the individual and community realities of the unfair distribution of food and support the call for action to challenge this profound injustice.  The Global Agenda for Social Worker and Social Development, supported by IFSW, IASSW and ICSW, commits us to ‘promote community capacity building in responding to environmental challenges and human and natural disasters such as flooding, water degradation and food insecurity’.  We will work with others to create a world where everybody can eat enough”, Rory Truell concluded.

Read the Caritas press release here.