Human Right to Food

PakistanThe human right to food is recognized in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. National governments have a duty to respect this right in their own actions, to protect the right from the actions of others, and to fulfill the right for their citizens.

One of the most effective ways that marginalized hungry people can ensure that their governments consider their food needs is by calling on their governments to implement their human right to food commitments.

What are we trying to do?

The Canadian government has ratified the United Nations declarations on the human right to food and Canada’s Overseas Development Assistance Accountability Act stipulates that all foreign aid must be consistent with international human rights standards. The Foodgrains Bank encourages Canada to take this commitment seriously in its foreign policy, which includes not only aid, but also its actions on international trade and investment.

What have we accomplished?

In 2012, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Olivier de Schutter, visited Canada to examine how the right to adequate food is being realized in Canada and how Canadian policies impact the right to food internationally. Foodgrains Bank policy staff briefed de Schutter on how Canadian food aid impacts on the right to food, as well as on Canada’s action on climate change and the right to food internationally.

In a report released in March 2013, de Schutter generally praised Canada’s international efforts to realize the right to food, whilst raising concerns about Canada’s actions at home. For more information, click here.

The Foodgrains Bank occasionally supports international projects on the human right to food, and Public Policy staff work closely with International Program staff on these projects.

The Foodgrains Bank (working as part of the Mennonite Committee on Human Rights) developed an art exhibit to explore the interface between food, faith, and human rights. The Just Food exhibit opened in Manitoba in May 2010 and toured across Canada for three years. The Foodgrains Bank has developed educational resources on the right to food, including a Just Food Art Activity.

What are we still working on?

The Foodgrains Bank continues to promote the human right to food in our dialogue with Global Affairs Canada and other government officials, especially the full implementation of the ODA Accountability Act, pointing out how a human rights approach can be beneficial in prioritizing the needs of vulnerable people. We have conducted several workshops with constituents across Canada, to help them understand what the human right to food means, and how it can help in ending hunger.

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