What is the Human Right to Food?

The Human Right to Food

Food is the basic necessity for all human beings, so everyone should have a right to it. The right to food protects the right of all human beings to live in dignity, free from hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition. It is not about charity, but about ensuring that all are capable of feeding themselves.

Human rights are mainly about upholding human dignity, not about meeting physiological needs. Dignity does not come from being fed. It comes from being able to feed oneself. In any well structured society, the objective is to move toward conditions under which all people can look after themselves.

Fulfilling one’s need for food in the biological sense is different from fulfilling one’s right to food. If people have no chance to influence what and how they were being fed, their right to adequate food is not being met, even if they get all the nutrients their bodies need. Certainly one can provide food for individuals that will meet their basic nutrient requirements, as in a prison or an army. Serving pork to a Muslim prisoner would violate his human rights, even if it contained the nutrients he needed.

The Right to Adequate Food is a fundamental human right firmly established in international law. This right flows from the Charter of the United Nations, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) of 1966. The Right to Adequate Food has been reaffirmed in many pronouncements of the international community over the last 50 years. Noteworthy is also the recognition of the right to food in numerous national constitutions.

The human right to food has its contemporary origin within the U.N. Universal Human Rights framework. The main reference point is located within the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) (U.N. 1948), Article 25, which states, “Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and his family, including food.”

It provided a reference point for human rights legislation that followed but is not itself a binding international legal instrument.  The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (Committee on ESCR) in its General Comment 12 says

The right to adequate food is realized when every man, woman and child, alone and in community with others, has physical and economic access at all times to adequate food or means for its procurement (General Comment 12, 1999, para 6).

About Goodpal

I am a firm believer in healthy people (mind and body both), healthy societies and healthy environment. Please feel free to comment, share and broadcast your views -- I like rational and intellectual discussions. Thanks for stopping by. Have a Good Day!
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