Seven principles for ending hunger:

Recognition and Respect of rights


Sixth principle: Recognition and Respect of rights

Recognition and Respect of the rights of rural communities to natural resources (land, water, forests and genetic resources) and the right to food

The renewed interest in agriculture that has followed the increase of prices of agricultural commodities observed since the middle of the first decade of this century has led to a multiplication of attempts by various economic agents to take over natural resources. This has increasingly challenged the rights of rural communities (especially in relation to their rights to land, water, forests, genetic resources in particular). Land and water grabbing, forest and carbon concessions, costly access to improved seeds and the commercial use of traditional knowledge are the best known modalities of these take overs. [read]

These threats to the rights that gave rural communities access to the natural resources indispensable for their survival, have often led to their deprivation and have contributed to putting millions of rural people in an increasingly difficult situation. The reaction to this dangerous trend has been at best confused. On the one hand, there has been a series of more or less binding and unevenly suitable and effective conventions, guidelines and declarations, the content of which has often been criticised and found not to be adapted to the situation in the field. On the other hand, encouragement has been provided for a growing presence of private interests (multinational, regional, national or local corporations and enterprises, investment funds, etc.) that are getting more organised and engaging in operations in the field that have led to takeover of resources, marginalisation of local people and, in some cases, forced displacement of population groups.

An organised mobilisation is required as a reaction to the violation of these rights. When the rural population gets organised (first principle), it offers an effective means for assuring respect of their rights, particularly if this mobilisation it is also supported by an international campaign. The case of the Masai of Loliondo district is a good recent example. More systematically, a broader consultation involving actively all stakeholders should allow improvements in the international texts ruling the governance of natural resources. These texts should however also become legally binding to make rights enforceable before an international court.

The Right to Food should not only be included in the Constitution of countries, but policies should be aligned on the right to food and practical steps should be undertaken so that an enabling environment for people to feed themselves in dignity is put in place and appropriate safety nets established for those who are unable to do so [read], in coherence with what is proposed here, particularly with principles two and seven proposed here

Finally, to take fully into account the fact that hunger is a result of human decisions and that it is not unavoidable, it should become possible to prosecute before an international court the authorities of countries where hunger persists and who do not demonstrate by facts that they have a real will to eradicate it, as is the case for those responsible for crimes against Humanity. Let it be remembered that chronic hunger kills every year around 2.5 million people, three times as many victims as the Rwanda Genocide.

Materne Maetz

(October 2013)


Last update:    October 2013

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