The right to food is
a human right. It is universal, acknowledged at the national,
regional and international level, and applies to every person
and group of persons.
Currently, however, some 852 million persons throughout the world
are seriously – and permanently – undernourished,
815 million of whom are in developing countries, 28 million in
countries in transition and 9 million in developed (“industrialized”)
Out of these 852 million persons, 50% are small farmers, 20% are
landless rural dwellers, 10% are nomadic herders, or small-scale
fishermen, and 10% live in urban poverty. Barely 5% are affected
by food emergency situations arising from armed conflicts, by
exceptional climatic conditions (mainly drought or floods) or
by violent economic transitions.
Thus, the causes of undernourishment and of death from hunger
and malnutrition are immensely complex, and they cannot be simply
attributed to war or natural catastrophes. They are primarily
due to social injustice, to political and economic exclusion and
to discrimination. Hundreds of millions of undernourished persons
suffer from political and social exclusion while their right to
food is violated.
In point of fact, the means of demanding one’s right to
food and the chances of obtaining redress depend for the most
part on the information and enforcement mechanisms available at
the national, regional and international level.
With this in mind, this
brochure can be said to have a double purpose: to contribute to
a clarification of the available information about the right to
food and to set out the monitoring and enforcement mechanisms,
on the national, regional and international level, to which victims
can have recourse when their right to food is violated.