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Trocaire Development Review Launch Dublin, Nov 12, 2010. The Right to Food. Legal, political and human implications for a food security agenda. Dr Su-ming Khoo School of Political Science and Sociology NUI Galway Overview. Food security as a ‘wicked problem’

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the right to food

Trocaire Development Review Launch

Dublin, Nov 12, 2010

The Right to Food

Legal, political and human implications for a food security agenda

Dr Su-ming Khoo

School of Political Science and Sociology

NUI Galway

  • Food security as a ‘wicked problem’
  • FAO and food security
  • Background: wider project of development and rights
  • R2F Framework, incl. 2004 FAO Guidelines
  • Civil society and “adequate food” - India and RTF
  • RBA and the wicked problem: mobilizing change
  • The contribution from ‘development’: entitlement, capability, dignity
food security hunger
Food? Security? Hunger?
  • Food security as a ‘wicked problem’
  • Differing goals cause policy fragmentation
    • Freedom from want...adequate std of living (UDHRArt25)
    • Nutrition and health
    • Disposal of grain surplus – food aid
    • 1972 food crisis – food security (famine warning)
    • Increasing production
    • Controlling trade
    • Entitlement failure – employment, safety nets
    • Structural justice vs. Structural adjustment
  • Hunger and malnutrition repeatedly sidelined, despite efforts
right time for right to food
Right Time for Right to Food
  • 1996 WFS – Kairos for RTF? (Ziegler)
    • Hunger has a unique universal appeal. Nothing touches the consciousness as much as hunger. It brings into man’s immediate consciousness the social injustices and inequalities, the divisions between man and man that encrust the social structure everywhere

B.R. Sen, FAO D-G (1957-67)

  • 1996 Rome Declaration ‘cumbersome and unclear’ but by 2000 RTF as an instrument to deal with ‘a totally unacceptable situation’

Jones & Stokke, 2005, Human rights discourse increasingly frames approaches to development:

Previously, “human rights” and “development” lay as if two distinct islands in mutually uncharted waters

Socio-economic issues comprised a vast channel that put great distance between human rights and development

rtf within rtd approach
RTF within RTD approach
  • 3 ‘planks’ bridging development and rights
    • Recovering indivisibility
    • Democratising development
    • Humanising rights
  • RTD approach: a vector of all indivisible rights (Sengupta) and people-centred process
  • Realization of RTD: 3 immediate action areas
    • Food, Education, Health
cescr comment 12
CESCR Comment 12
  • Comment 12 The right to adequate food (Art.11)

E/C.12/1999/5.“the most authoritative”

  • Art 11.1 ICECSCR

"the right of everyone to an adequate standard of living

…including adequate food, clothing and housing,

and to the continuous improvement of living conditions",

  • Art.11.2 immediate and urgent steps …to ensure

"the fundamental right to freedom from hunger and


hunger as rights failure
Hunger as Rights failure
  • India: Ambekar’s Directive Principles – democracy

“a form and method of government whereby

revolutionary changes in the economic and social life

of the people are brought about without bloodshed”

  • Sen’s entitlement theory: no famine in a democracy
  • But a ‘nutrition emergency’ - 47% of Indian children undernourished
  • gender discrimination
  • Education is affected
  • Intergenerational injustice
the right to food in india
The Right to Food in India
  • 2001 petition in Rajasthan by C Gonsalves (PUCL)

following food crisis

  • Court accepted petition, extended to whole India
  • GoI - many schemes already existed
  • Landmark Interim Order covered 8 federal schemes
    • Focus on School Mid-day Meal Scheme
  • New emphasis on politics and governance
    • 5 recommendations
fao 2004 guidelines
FAO 2004 Guidelines
  • 2004 Guidelines reframe Food Security as context for RTF
  • FAO not Party to ICECSR, so indirectly binding, but play a key role
  • Recommend national actions: framework law, coordination, accountability, participation
  • Also non-state actors – TNCs, NGOs
  • Pressure by NGOs and civil society a major driver transforming abstract right
human development theory
Human development theory
  • Sen, Amartya (1999) Development as Freedom
  • Removing ‘the major sources of unfreedom’.
  • Focus on ‘instrumental freedoms’ and public policy
  • Capability – valued beings and doings
  • complexity of what is valued by humans
  • De Herdt – plurality of concerns (ability to appear in public without shame)