International law recognizes every person’s right to food and the fundamental right to be free from hunger. The Voluntary Guidelines on the Progressive Realization of the Right to Adequate Food in the Context of National Food Security were adopted unanimously by the governing council of the FAO in 2004, representing the first time that the there was agreement on the meaning of the right amongst states. The Right to Adequate Food is outlined into the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR). The main concepts of the right to food include:
  1. Availability: Ability to feed yourself and your family directly from productive lands and other natural resources or from markets and stores.
  2. Adequate: You have enough food to satisfy dietary needs throughout your lifecycle. This takes into account needs linked to gender, age, occupation, and culture.
    1. To be adequate, food must not contain adverse substances (as outlined or established by international standards agencies).
    2. Must include values relates to food preparation and consumption.
  3. Accessibility:
    1. Economic accessibility: household or personal financial means to attain food for an adequate diet.
    2. Physical accessibility: food is available to everywhere, everywhere (rural, urban).
  4. Stability: Availability and accessibility must be guaranteed in a stable manner.
Despite the limitations and problems associated with development, the term and associated actions are present and ongoing. Approaching “development” cautiously then, let us consider what a human rights approach means for development. Does it help address some of the concerns outlined by Estava? The FAO uses the acronym PANTHER to coordinated a development approach that is consistent with human rights.
  • Participation
  • Accountability
  • Non-discrimination and attention to vulnerable groups
  • Transparency
  • Human Dignity
  • Empowerment
  • Rule of law
Before moving on to a discussion on the what a human rights approach means for development, I think it is important to reflect on what development means, where it comes from and some of the implications associated with this very political and politicized term. In the book The Development Dictionary: A Guide to Power as Knowledge, Gustavo Esteva (2001:8) warns that “development occupies the centre of an incredible powerful semantic constellation.” Esteva is suggesting that our application and use of the term necessitates careful reflection because in saying “development”, most people end up saying the opposite of what they intend to convey (Esteva 2001:6).
Since we are on the subject of the right to food: Press Release FIAN International FIAN calls for seed trade regulations to respect right to food Heidelberg, April 15th  2011 - On the International Day of Peasants’ Struggle, April 17th, FIAN joins millions of peasants in demanding the  European Union respect their right to adequate food in the regulation of the seed trade. Online at FIAN calls on the European Union to meet its commitments to human rights, and specifically the right to food, by facilitating and strengthening people's access to productive resources including land, water and seeds.

*I have updated this post with some more information about the history of human rights within the UN system.* [caption id="attachment_423" align="alignleft" width="141" caption="UN Human Rights Council logo"][/caption] As I mentioned yesterday,...

I have been a bad blogger. I went home for the first time in over two years and decided to spend as much time as I could away from my...


In an early edition of the journal Global Governance, Lawrence Finkelstein (1995:368) rather boldly stated that “‘Global Governance’ appears to be virtually everything” and that “we say ‘governance’ because we...

Last week I presented some of my reflection on global governance to my supervisors and others in the Department. I had some fun playing around with James Rosenau's understanding of...