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What is the Right to Food?

2012 Right to Food and Nutrition Watch, Geneva launch - Peter Prove (Director of EAA) Moderating

Please refer to our press release for more information.


The Right to Food says that all people are entitled to adequate food that is sufficient, safe, nutritious and culturally acceptable. The Right to Food was first recognized in the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights and is also part of the 1976 International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. Currently 156 countries have ratified this covenant. In addition, in September 2000, 189 states further expressed their commitment to the eradication of hunger and poverty by endorsing the Millennium Declaration, which was translated into eight time-bound and measurable goals to be reached by 2015, known as the Millennium Development Goals.

The Right to Food is understood as far more than the provision on minimum sustenance through aid to prevent people from starving. It is understood as the right to have the means to feed oneself adequately, either through income to buy food or through land or other productive resources to produce it. If neither of these is possible, adequate social safety net policies are needed. People have the right to be able to satisfy their Right to Food without sacrificing other basic rights, such as health, education or shelter.

People and communities can demand that governments respect, protect and fulfil their needs for appropriate access to sufficient food of an acceptable quality. If people are to actually achieve these rights, government obligations need to be translated into laws.

The obligation to respect the Right to Food requires governments to not to do anything that would take away people’s access to adequate food. The obligation to protect requires the government to take measures to ensure that no one else deprives other people of access to adequate food. And the obligation to fulfill means that states must take active steps to strengthen people’s access to, and use of, resources to ensure their Right to Food is met.
It is recognized that not all states are entirely and immediately able to fulfil their obligations to respect, protect and fulfil. But they must work towards that end; they should not take any backward steps.

It is also up to us to take action, to demand our rights! Under pressure from civil society, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in 2004 adopted “Voluntary Guidelines for the progressive realization of the right to adequate food in the context of national food security”. These got the support of all 187 FAO state members! The text is a useful tool with which to challenge unwilling governments.

It is also up to us to take action through:

Monitoring wrong doers and highlighting both our achievements and struggles through publications like the Right to Food and Nutrition Watch.
Using the EAA model letters (signatories and non-signatories) and press release call on national governments to sign, accede and or ratify the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR)".
Learning about the commitments toward the right to food made by governments and how you can join with like-minded civil society actors to ensure that effective targets are made and kept
Collecting and sharing information of where the right to food is being respected, protected and fulfilled as well as where it is being violated.
Developing and sharing theological reflection and worship materials on the right to food.
Participating in the Churches Week of Action on Food.


Right to Food and Nutrition Watch, 2013 - PDF (EN,FR,SP)

Right to Food and Nutrition Watch, 2012 - PDF (EN)

Right to Food and Nutrition Watch, 2011 - PDF (EN, FR, ES)

Executive Summary, 2011 (EN, ES)

FIAN Right to Food Quarterly - PDF (EN)

Food Campaign Framework for Action (2009-2012) - PDF (EN) (ES) (FR)

Right to Food and Nutrition Watch, 2010 - PDF (EN, FR, ES)

FAO Guide to Conducting Right to Food Assessment (EN)

Press Release of the FAO (EN)

Press Release of the Civil Society Organisations (EN)