The mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food

September 26, 2007

Mister President,

Please allow us to begin by expressing our admiration for the  excellent work accomplished by
Mr Ziegler during his mandate as Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food.

His reports have  repeatedly  helped us to understand both the simplicity of the principle of the right to food and the complexity of the factors which prevent its implementation. He has also explored in depth the  scope of this right by explaining diverse judicial aspects , such as food sovereignty , the extra-territorial obligations of States, and the role and obligations of transnational corporations. By identifying the major economic obstacles to the implementaion of the right to food, Mr Ziegler, in his first report in 2001, clearly  highlighted the fundamental contradictions inherent in the policies put into practise  by many countries,   particularly  in the developed countries.

These same countries, while recognizing  within these walls the right to food as it is commonly defined (1), firmly defend, within the WTO, subsidies to industrial export farmers that lead to distortions in the international markets. In Washington, through the World Bank and the IMF,  these same countries both uphold  and  maintain a system  which  keeps in ever-increasing debt countries who have already repaid their debt  several times,  and impose economic and social policies that greatly contribute to the  under-development of the Southern hemisphere.

This duplicity leads to contradictions within the  United Nations Organisation itself, and  also finds its expression  in lack of political will  regarding  the implementation of the recommendations made by the Special Rapporteur.

For this reason  the efforts accomplished by Mr Ziegler regarding the development of national legislation on the right to food must be recognized.

Violations of the right to food are also  intensified by choices made by world industry. The constant increase of emissions of greenhouse effect gases contribute to  global warming of the climate of the planet and  amplify  the phenomenon of drought. Land needed for food crops is being converted to new technologies, such as agro-carburants, which require enormous quantities of water. The price of water is constantly rising, especially since privatisation,  contributing to spiralling prices of essential goods,  and subsequent violations of the right to food.

Consequently entire populations are now obliged to  migrate and sometimes  to  cross frontiers.  Do these people have proper documents? Should they be considered to be  political refugees?  Certainly in the wider sense they should be. Should the status of food refugee be created? This question requires  serious consideration on the part of the international community and could be the object of a High Level debate  in the next session of this Council.

In the meantime , we invite the Council to renew and reinforce the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the right to food.

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(1) The right to food is the right to have regular, permanent and free access, either directly, or by means of monetary payment, to adequate and sufficient food  in  quantity  and quality, corresponding to the cultural traditions of the people of the consumer¹s origin and which ensure physical and psychological, individual and collective life, free from anxiety, and provide satisfaction and dignity.

Human Rights International Human Rights Council UNHCR Statement

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