Unpunished Human Rights Violations Challenge Right To Food, Activists Say

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By Catherine Saez for Intellectual Property Watch

Despite international frameworks and mechanisms to protect food security as a human right, a number of violations are committed in total impunity, according to the third edition of the “Right to Food and Nutrition Watch” issued today, this year with a focus on accountability issues.

The publication [pdf], produced by a consortium of 16 civil society organisations, aims to monitor food security and nutrition policies from a human rights perspective.

Among the violations identified by the Watch this year are: “the harassment and murder of peasant farmers and human rights defenders in Togo; [and] the illegal granting of land concessions to the palm oil industry by the government of Malaysia at the expense of its indigenous communities.” More accountability is needed from both government and private actors, it said.

The Geneva launch of the publication, organised by the FoodFirst Information and Action Network (FIAN), gathered several speakers, including Jean Ziegler, vice-president of the United Nations Human Rights Council Advisory Committee and former UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food.

Ziegler said the UN World Food Programme has lost half of its budget in the last year, due to decreasing contributions from main donors. But he said peasant insurrections are growing in the world and that hope remains for policymakers to solve many issues through a democratic process.

Flavio Valente, FIAN’s international general secretary, said that the resistance of the people is growing and governments should be held accountable to the international human right treaties that they sign. He said the problem today is the private sector’s influence and the fact that they “have more say than human rights.”

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