It is generally accepted that the right to food implies three types of state obligations – the obligation to
These types of obligations were defined in General Comment 12 by the Committee on ESCR and endorsed by states, when the FAO Council adopted the Right to Food Guidelines (Voluntary Guidelines) in November 2004.
The obligation to respect requires governments not to take any measures that deprive or prevent people from having access to food.
The obligation to protect means that states should take steps to enforce laws and take other measures to prevent third parties such as individuals and corporations, from violating the right to food of others.
The obligation to fulfill (facilitate and provide) entails that governments must pro-actively initiate steps for utilization of resources in ways that make food more accessible and facilitate people’s ability to feed themselves. As a last resort, whenever any one is unable to enjoy the right to adequate food for reasons beyond his control, the state is obliged to step in and help.
Identification of vulnerable, disadvantaged and marginalized groups and action towards removing the factors determining vulnerability are also implicit under the obligation to fulfill.
To sum up, offering the right to food means that governments must not take actions that result in increasing levels of hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition. It also means that governments must protect people from the actions of powerful others that might violate the right to food. States must also, to the maximum of available resources, invest in the eradication of hunger.