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Rights-based Civic Actions for Food

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Lecture at IUC Turin as part of a Module on Social Food Movements. Here I present the right to food constituency, NGOs, associations, legal scholars and the few institutions and countries that actually support politically and financially this fundamental right (closely linked to right to life). I explore major barriers (normative, academic and political) to the full implementation, and analyse the different developments in Latin America (progress) and Europe (stalemate).

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Rights-based Civic Actions for Food

  1. 1. Rights-based Civic Actions for Food Module “Social Food Movements” Master Food, Law & Finance March 2017 – Turin JOSE LUIS VIVERO POL PhD Research Fellow in Food Governance
  2. 2. Achievements Challenges Barriers Proposals
  3. 3. 3
  4. 4. 4 Food & Nutrition Security Law 2006 Constitutional Reform 2010
  5. 5. 5 FNS Law Mexico DF 2009 Constitutional Reform 2011
  6. 6. Legal Common Sense Associated to right to life, right to be, right to thrive, freedom from want Immediate dimension: free of hunger Progressive: Access to adequate food Understood as commons sense in most cultures & groups (Hossain et al., 2015)
  7. 7. • Pasamos de la “Seguridad Alimentaria existe cuando…” a “la realización de un derecho…”, Leyes de SAN de Guatemala y Brasil (2005 y 2006) • De “situación” a “derecho”, que se ha de garantizar (por el Estado) y se puede exigir (por los ciudadanos) • El DA está desarrollándose desde hace 20 años (PIDESC), luego su reconocimiento en los países y ahora con la justiciabilidad.Same LEGAL CONSIDERATION & LEVEL OF PROTECTION than Right not to be tortured or freedom of speech Foto:SandeepThukal
  8. 8. 8 THE RIGHT TO FOOD is a right (duties and entitlements). States must respect, protect & fulfill As a legal approach, it does not question the proprietary rights, specially the private property right (a sacred pillar of capitalism). ICESCR is a binding agreement for 156 states Justiciable Foto: Jorge Salamanca
  9. 9. Latin America is leading • Awareness, protection and justiciability (Vivero, 2010) • 17 Parliamentary Fronts Against Hunger • Regional Framework Law (Parlatino,2012)
  10. 10. Legal Frameworks FNS Framework Laws (12) Armenia (2002), Argentina (2003), Guatemala (2005), Brazil (2006), Venezuela (2008), Ecuador (2009), Mexico DF (2009), Nicaragua (2009), Honduras (2011), Zanzibar (2011), Indonesia (2012), India (2013) FNS draft laws in Parliaments (13) Bolivia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Haiti, Malawi, Mexico, Mozambique, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Uganda
  11. 11. LAC (13% of world´s countries) • 65% (15 out of 23 countries) explicit RtF in Constitution (Knuth & Vidar, 2011) • 66% (8 out of 12) FNS Laws including RtF • 70% FNS law drafts in Parliaments • 28% signatories of OP ICESCR (2016) 11
  12. 12. Food Security Laws (Vivero, 2010; 2011) • Although not main driving forces, anchor institutional set up and keep momentum in transitions between governments • Create national FNS systems • Process as important as results: Enable civil society to participate, implement & monitor (accountability) • Necessary but not sufficient
  13. 13. Justiciability • Jurisprudence is mounting: More 60 RTF cases (IDLO, 2015) • LAC leading: Honduras (2007), Guatemala (2006), Argentina (2007), Paraguay (2002, 2006) (Vivero, 2011) • Judges/lawyers become more aware of possibilities (Vidar et al., 2014)
  14. 14. Main actors supporting the Right to Food
  15. 15. Countries supporting RtF Few countries investing in the Right to Food
  16. 16. Lessons learned for RTF achievements to date • Useful Policy Guide to question balance of power in food systems (De Schutter, 2013) • Subversive analysis of root causes (Lambek, 2015) (avoiding the “we have a situation”) • Glue of diverse constituencies (Claeys, 2015; Callenius et al., 2014) • Aspirational driver, becoming object of social struggles (Hossain et al., 2015) • Mutually reinforcing food sovereignty (De Schutter, 2014; Lambek, 2014) • Process as important as output (Vivero, 2010) • Opening up spaces for civil society participation and monitoring (Lambek, 2015; Vivero, 2011)
  17. 17. Political challenges • Excessive emphasis on State obligations (Claeys, 2015) • Clash of roles: State as violator and guarantor at same time (Lambek, 2015) • Neglecting responsibility of consumers, TNCs, non-state actors (NGOs) (Narula, 2015) • Lack of constituency & representativeness because failed to capture imagination of hungry communities (Claeys, 2015).
  18. 18. Paradigm Barriers • Food as a human right (moral) collides with food as a commodity (amoral) • Food not considered a public good or a commons (Vivero, 2017) • Other ESCR (health, education, water) are considered public goods & they have progressed as enforceable rights
  19. 19. Normative Barriers • RtF not justiciable as Civil & Political Rights (Chilton, 2009) because is feared (Vivero, 2011) • Not in America (San Salvador Protocol), Africa (CHRP) or Europe (Vivero & Schuftan, 2016) but yes in OP ICESCR • RtF actively rejected by US (Messer & Cohen, 2009) & Canada (Margulis, 2015) + Int. Org. (G8, G20, WEF, WTO, WB, IMF) & Corporations (Lambek, 2014) • Rationale: RtF is imprecise, subject to available resources and progressive realization (Vidar et al., 2014)
  20. 20. Operational Barriers • A law that citizens and judges are unaware of is not applied (Vivero, 2011) • How the hungry are reaching the judge? • Lack of pro-bono lawyers (who contracts the defenders?) • No financial support by development agencies, UN or private foundations • Meagre budgetary obligations to progressively fulfill it
  21. 21. Legal technicalities that hamper justiciability • Diffuse responsibility: what ministry is responsible of anyone’s hunger? • Lack of classification of crimes, offenses & punishment on RtF violations • Hunger is not legally a cause of death in most countries (forensic certificates) • Different responsibilities for hunger (lack of choices) & obesity (bad choices)
  22. 22. EUROPA leaving many behind because food is not a right
  23. 23. • 123 M poor EU people (1/4) (Oxfam, 2015) • 50 M severe material deprivation: food, water…(EUROSTAT, 2015) • 2009-15, + 7.5 M poor • 30-40% children (6 EU members) below poverty line (UNICEF, 2014) • Increasing children at school with no breakfast (UK, Netherlands, Spain)
  24. 24. No RtF in EU: How is that possible? • NOT in European Social Charter • NOT in any EU constitution • NOT in MDGs & SDGs narrative • Proposal in Belgium: National Food Policy Council including whole food chain (Eggen, 2014) • Proposal in Spain: RtF in Constitution • European Citizen´s Initiative + EP: water as human right + commons • Universal Food Coverage (non-existing)
  25. 25. Proposals for International Actors
  26. 26. Pro-Bono Public Interest Litigation for Jurisprudence (collective & individual cases)
  27. 27. 27 Time for binding treaties Global Convention on Health (Goslin, 2011) Food Treaty (Macmillan & Vivero, 2011; Vivero, 2014) Human rights & transnational corporations Tackle poor diets and fight obesity media/news/2014/11/open-letter-global-convention/
  28. 28. Proposals for Civic Food Movements 28
  29. 29. To guarantee school meals for all students in public schools 29
  30. 30. Stricter & innovative rules to avoid food waste To recycle all expired food (i.e. France) Supporting citizens´ collective actions to reduced waste, promote food sharing and co-producing 30
  31. 31. Shifting from charitable food (Food Banks) to food as right (Universal Food Coverage) A food bank network that is universal, accountable, compulsory and not voluntary, random, targeted 31
  32. 32. Bibliography • Callenius, C., Oenema, S., & Valente, F. (2014). Preface. In Right to food and nutrition watch: The years of the right to food guidelines: Gains, concerns and struggles. • Claeys, P. (2015). The right to food: Many developments, more challenges. Canadian Food Studies, Vol. 2, No. 2, pp. 60–67. • Claeys, P. and Lambek, N. (2014) Creating an Environment for a Fully Realized Right to Food: Progress, Challenges and Emerging Alternative Policy Models. A Ten-Year Retrospective on Voluntary Guidelines, FIAN International. • Chilton, M. (2009). A rights-based approach to food insecurity in the United States. American Journal of Public Health, 99 (7): 1203–1211. • De Schutter, O. (2012). From charity to entitlement: Implementing the right to food in Southern and Eastern Africa. Briefing Note No. 5. • De Schutter, O. (2013). Assessing a decade of right to food progress. Report presented to the 68th Session of the UN General Assembly, A/68/288. United Nations • De Schutter, S. (2014). Final report: The Transformative Potential of the Right to Food, UN Human Rights Council, Report of the Special Rapporteur on the right to food. • Eggen, M (2014). The law on the right to adequate food: a necessary step in the fight against food insecurity and malnutrition in Belgium. In: Right to food and nutrition watch: The years of the right to food guidelines: Gains, concerns and struggles. Pp. 74-75 • EUROSTAT (2015). • UNICEF (2014). Children of the Recession: The impact of the economic crisis on child well-being in rich countries’, Innocenti Report Card 12, UNICEF,
  33. 33. • Gostin LO. (2012). A Framework Convention on Global Health: health for all, justice for all. JAMA;307:2087–92. doi:10.1001/jama.2012.4395PMID:22665108 • Golay, C. (2011). The Right to Food and Access to Justice: Examples at the National, Regional and International Levels. FAO, Rome. • Hossain, N., D. te Lintelo, A. Wanjiku-Kelbert (2015). A commons sense approach to the right to food. IDS working paper 458. Institute of Development Studies. approach-to-the-right-to-food • IDLO (in press). Realizing the Right to Food: Legal Strategies and Approaches. International Development Law Organization • Knuth, L. & M. Vidar (2011). Constitutional and legal protection of the right to food around the world. Right to Food Studies, FAO, Rome. • Lambek, N. (2015). The right to food: Reflecting on the past and future possibilities—Synthesis Paper. Canadian Food Studies, Vol. 2, No. 2, pp. 68–74. • Lambek, N. (2014). 10 years of the right to adequate food guidelines: Progress, obstacles and the way head. Civil Society Synthesis Paper for the 41st Session of the UN Committee on World Food Security. FIAN International. Retrieved from • MacMillan, A. & J.L. Vivero (2011). The governance of hunger. Innovative proposals to make the right to be free from hunger a reality. In: Martín-López, M.A. & J.L. Vivero, eds. New challenges to the Right to Food. CEHAP, Cordoba and Editorial Huygens, Barcelona. • Margulis, M.E. (2015). Forum-Shopping for Global Food Security Governance? Canada’s Approach at the G8 and UN Committee on World Food Security. Canadian Foreign Policy Journal 21(2), 164-178. • Optional Protocol (5 Mayo 2013). 21 countries (6 LAC, 11 Europe). • OXFAM (2015). Europe for the many, not the few. Working Paper.
  34. 34. • Vidar, M., Y.J. Kim & L. Cruz (2014). Legal developments in the progressive realization of the right to adequate food. Thematic study, FAO Legal Office. • Vivero Pol, J.L. (2010). El enfoque legal contra el hambre: el derecho a la alimentación y las leyes de seguridad alimentaria. En X. Erazo, L. Pautassi & A. Santos, eds. Exigibilidad y realización de derechos sociales. Impacto en la política pública. Pp 163-188. Editorial LOM, Santiago, Chile. entaria • Vivero Pol, J.L. (2011). Hunger for justice in Latin America. The justiciability of the right to food, In Martin, M. A. & Vivero Pol, J.L. (eds). New Challenges to the Right to Food, CEHAP, Cordoba and Huygens Editorial, Barcelona. • Vivero Pol, J.L. (2014). The commons-based international Food Treaty: A legal architecture to sustain a fair and sustainable food transition. In: Collart-Dutilleul, F. & T. Breger, eds. Penser une démocratie alimentaire Volume II. Lascaux European Research Programme. Nantes. Pp. 177-206. • Vivero Pol, J.L. (2015). Food is a public good. World Nutrition 6 (4): 306-309. • Vivero Pol, J.L. & C. Schuftan (2016). No right to food and nutrition in the SDGs: mistake or success? BMJ Global Health 1: e000040 • Vivero-Pol, J.L. (2017). Food as Commons or Commodity? Exploring the Links between Normative Valuations and Agency in Food Transition. Sustainability 2017, 9, 442. 1050/9/3/442 • Zepeda, R. (2014). The struggle for right to Food Justiciability in Guatemala: A Follow up on the Child Malnutrition litigation Case in Camotán Municipality. In: Right to food and nutrition watch: The years of the right to food guidelines: Gains, concerns and struggles. Pp. 60-62 Retrieved from
  35. 35. 35 I am eager to exchange on right to food, hunger eradication & food as a commons @joselviveropol joseluisviveropol Jose Luis Vivero Pol