"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
  June 2008 FOOD

Guaranteeing the Right to Eat is an Obligation upon States

Speaking on behalf of the 47 member governments of the Human Rights Council, UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food Olivier de Schutter told the concluding day of the FAO summit that establishing "an international environment which is conducive to the full realization of the right to adequate food at the national level," is an {obligation} upon States, under international law. Simply providing international assistance for an emergency is not sufficient; the global food policy system itself must be rethought. Although he never mentioned the words "free trade", "cartels", or "WTO", these were the actual targets of de Shutter's warning.

Implementation of the right to adequate food {requires} adoption of measures by States to ensure "the availability of food in a quantity and quality sufficient to satisfy the dietary needs of individuals," particularly the urban poor and landless laborers, he stated. Laws are needed to guarantee this right, so that under conditions such as those faced today, "when the prices of food undergo a sudden increase, the other branches of government will not be allowed to remain passive."

"A New Deal for Agriculture," with massive reinvestment in agriculture, is required. Prices will not guarantee sufficent private sector investment in agriculture; official development assistance must be mobilized to build infrastructure, provide access to credit, assure the availability of good-quality seed, lower post-harvest losses, etc., he stated.

He singled out three of the worst crimes of the WTO's cartel system -- the patenting of seeds, which limits the availability of quality seed; the "concentration of market power in agribusiness" [i.e. cartels]; and the impact of speculation on food prices -- as features of the global food supply system which must be addressed by the international community. In diplomatic understatement, he noted that States trying to unilaterally address speculation, in particular, haven't been very effective. De Shutter promised that he, and the UN's Human Rights Council (made up of representatives of governments, not supranational bureacrats), will be monitoring and intervening in the coming period, to ensure that such fundamental steps are taken, to prevent further violations "of this most important of human rights."