The right to food

Commission on Human Rights resolution 1998/23



The Commission on Human Rights,

Recalling the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which provides that everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for his health and well­being, including food,

Recalling also the provisions of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in which the fundamental right of every person to be free from hunger is recognized,

Recalling further the Universal Declaration on the Eradication of Hunger and Malnutrition,

Bearing in mind the Rome Declaration on World Food Security and the Plan of Action of the World Food Summit, held in Rome from 13 to 17 November 1996,

Recalling its resolution 1997/8 of 3 April 1997,

Recognizing that the problems of hunger and food insecurity have global dimensions and that they are likely to persist and even to increase dramatically in some regions, unless urgent, determined and concerted action is taken, given the anticipated increase in the world's population and the stress on natural resources,

Reaffirming that a peaceful, stable and enabling political, social and economic environment is the essential foundation which will enable States to give adequate priority to food security and poverty eradication,

Reiterating, as did the Rome Declaration, that food should not be used as an instrument of political and economic pressure, and reaffirming in this regard the importance of international cooperation and solidarity, as well as the necessity of refraining from unilateral measures not in accordance with international law and the Charter of the United Nations, which endanger food security,

Convinced that each State must adopt a strategy consistent with its resources and capacities to achieve its individual goals in implementing the recommendations contained in the Rome Declaration and Plan of Action and, at the same time, cooperate regionally and internationally in order to organize collective solutions to global issues of food security in a world of increasingly interlinked institutions, societies and economies, where coordinated efforts and shared responsibilities are essential,

1. Reaffirms that hunger constitutes an outrage and a violation of human dignity and, therefore, requires the adoption of urgent measures at the national, regional and international level for its elimination;

2. Also reaffirms the right of everyone to have access to safe and nutritious food, consistent with the right to adequate food and the fundamental right of everyone to be free from hunger so as to be able fully to develop and maintain their physical and mental capacities;

3. Considers intolerable that more than 800 million people, especially women and children, throughout the world, and particularly in developing countries, do not have enough food to meet their basic nutritional needs, which infringes their fundamental human rights;

4. Stresses the need to make efforts to mobilize and optimize the allocation and utilization of technical and financial resources from all sources, including external debt relief for developing countries, to reinforce national actions to implement sustainable food security policies;

5. Welcomes the initiative undertaken by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to convene, as requested by the Commission in resolution 1997/8, the Consultation on the Right to Adequate Food, as a concrete and practical response to objective 7.4 (e) of the Plan of Action of the World Food Summit, in order better to define the rights related to food in article 11 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and to propose ways to implement and realize those rights as a means of achieving the commitments of the World Food Summit in objective 7.4 (e), and urges Member States to cooperate fully with the High Commissioner in this effort;

6. Endorses the proposal made by the Consultation to have a follow­up meeting in 1998 to pursue the discussions on the content and means of implementation of the rights related to adequate food in order to provide the High Commissioner with a full set of recommendations concerning her response to the request of the World Food Summit in objective 7.4 (e) and, in this regard, invites the High Commissioner to promote and encourage broader participation by experts from Member States, relevant specialized agencies and programmes, in particular the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, and non­governmental organizations;

7. Invites the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights to consider, draft and adopt a general comment as a contribution to the clarification of the content of the rights related to food in article 11 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and as part of its input to the meeting proposed in paragraph 6 above;

8. Requests the High Commissioner for Human Rights to report on the implementation of the present resolution to the Commission on Human Rights at its fifty­fifth session.

51st meeting
17 April 1998

[Adopted without a vote. See chap. V.]


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