"Nichts mehr davon, ich bitt euch. Zu essen gebt ihm, zu wohnen.
Habt ihr die Blöße bedeckt, gibt sich die Würde von selbst."
Friedrich Schiller
  May 2008 FOOD

UN Food Chief Denounces Cartels, Biofuels, and "20 Years of Errors," Invokes the Right to Food

Olivier de Schutter, UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, in her concluding remarks to the Special Session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on May 22, characterized the consensus of the event as three-fold: The right to food is a fundamental human right; each nation has an obligation to provide food for its people, while there is also an "international obligation of all States towards all peoples of the world;" and third, a point that is "often underestimated," is the role of "large agricultural cooperatives--transnational corporations had an immense power on the market and were dictating their prices to small farmers."

De Schutter also insisted that the crisis was not simply one of a "lack of purchasing power," but that there was a real supply problem--that more food must be produced. "Emergency measures were not enough," she said, demanding long term supply solutions. She said we were "now paying for 20 years of errors."

De Schutter repeated her condemnation of biofuels, and called for the revesal of the desertification of Sub-Saharan Africa.

A Resolution passed by consensus also called for all countries to send high level delegations to the June 3-5 FAO conference, and for the Special Rapporteur to report back to the Council on that FAO Conference.

Canada's representative Terry Cormier gave the British perspective: They "regretted that the resolution placed the primary responsibility on the international community and not on the States themselves." They also regretted that there was no "language on the need for all States to provide free and safe access for humanitarian assistance," clearly referring to the "responsibility to protect" argument that the West should invade Myanmar and others who resist British demands. Nonetheless, said Cormier, "aware of the importance of the resolution, Canada would not block consensus on it." The British had a similar statement, ranting about Burma.

Other comments of importance:

  • {{Russia:}} "It is not right that one-sixth of the world's population did nmot have access to adequate food, when it was possible to feed 12 bilion people, twice the number of the present world population."
  • {{Bolivia:}} The Bretton Woods Institutions had placed "an excessive focus on exports, weakening the role of small producers," while the "sources of subsistence themselves had been privatized--namely seeds."
  • {{Zambia:}} "If rising prices of food were not controlled, the riots they had witnessed over the past few months were bound to spread to other parts of the world."
  • {{Uraguay:}} "The world had to double its food production by 2050 to avoid starvation."
  • {{Congo:}} "The current crisis was not the result of a natural disaster. It was caused by policies, strategies and activities carried out all over the world."
  • {{North-Xouth XXI (an NGO):}} "Adopting resolutions did not add a single piece of bread to the mouths of the hungry. Changes were needed in policies and programs, and, critically, the policies of the World Bank and the IMF. They also needed to re-examine the policies of unbridled free trade imposed by countries of the north on countries of the south via the WTO."