De Schutter Identified Where And How Progress Had Been Made And Where Further Steps Were Needed.

De Schutter Identified Where And How Progress Had Been Made And Where Further Steps Were Needed.

The right to food is about more than just food policy, according to the report. For instance, illicit capital flight undermines the capacity of states to attain the millennium development goals. Similarly, insufficiently progressive levels of taxation or the failure to adopt certain practices may be a violation of the state’s duties to uphold its citizens’ rights, including to food.

Those who have made progress in reducing hunger have shown common characteristics, said De Schutter, including: political commitment at the highest level – such as in Brazil, where the government was committed to its “zero-hunger” policy; the involvement and empowerment of civil society; a long-term approach; co-ordinated policies in the areas of education, gender, water, sanitation, pro-poor economic development, and trade and domestic financial investment backed by external matching funds. One-time efforts, over short periods, failed to achieve significant impact.

Africa Food Security Change Lab

National human rights institutions also played a vital role in monitoring compliance. In India, investigations by the national human rights commission eased the work of the supreme court by inquiring into the implementation of schemes securing livelihoods. The South African human rights commission supported the Southern Africa Food Security Change Lab (pdf), linking the various groups of the food chain with NGOs.

However, the adoption of laws to bolster the right to food has shortcomings, says De Schutter. “They do not designate the judicial, quasi-judicial and administrative bodies to which claims relating to the violation of the right to food can be presented, nor are sanctions for non-compliance set out in national law.”

He also acknowledged that vested interests might want to block right to food initiatives, citing Guatemala as probably the worst case of sound intentions blocked by a small land-owning elite. “The poor may experience considerable difficulties in accessing judicial redress mechanisms, which is why social audits matter. The role of other actors, national human rights institutions and civil society, is therefore essential.”

The UN rapporteur cited the importance of parliamentarians and civil society in holding governments to account. India’s right to food campaign used social audits and right-to-information laws to assess compliance with court-mandated decisions, such as the distribution of subsidised foodstuffs and the delivery of school meals. The 2011 reform to insert the right to food into the Mexican constitution followed 20 years of advocacy from civil society groups. Quoted from the site page mofongos philly

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