Today 50 million Americans, including 17 million children, are living in households unable to afford adequate food, according to the International Human Rights Clinic at New York University. The 2013 edition of the Right to Food and Nutrition Watch, an international publication unveiled today in English, Spanish and French, explores global issues surrounding the right to food and nutrition. The Watch’s accessible, timely and relevant analysis and case studies provide grassroots organizations confronted by violations to the right to adequate food and nutrition examples of how civil society groups have taken action at the local, regional, and international levels. The articles generate awareness on alternative food systems and strategies, and encourage resistance to current policies that generate, rather than alleviate, hunger.
“This year’s Watch launch marks an ongoing, six-year effort to bring the human rights framework alive by providing a platform for public interest civil society voices–as rights holders to hold national states–as duty bearers accountable to realize progressively the right to adequate food and nutrition,” says Anne C. Bellows, Ph.D., Watch editorial board member, contributor, and professor of food studies in the Falk College at Syracuse University.
The Watch is scheduled to launch today in major cities throughout the world. In addition to Syracuse, NY, launch sites include Berlin, Bogota, Brussels, Cotonou, Geneva, The Hague, New York City, Oslo, Quito, Rome, Stockholm, Vienna and Zurich. The Watch is published each year by the Food First Information and Action Network, or FIAN, in cooperation with Bread for the World and ICCO Cooperation, three international human rights and development organizations.
The launch in Syracuse demonstrates growing interest in the U.S. to become more involved in international human rights-based approaches to food and nutrition security. Last month, the rights-focused, U.S.-based Buddhist Global Relief program was introduced at Syracuse University. Earlier this year, the International Human Rights Committee at New York University issued a report, Nourishing Change on the right to food in the U.S. “The Watch’s articles have immediate relevance to the day-to-day political struggles in the U.S. Congress and on our Syracuse streets,” notes Bellows. Syracuse University’s Falk College currently offers courses in food studies including a human rights framework in related teaching, research, and local and global community outreach.
As the United Nations’ annual meeting of the Committee on Food Security (CFS) unfolds during October 7-11, and World Food Day approaches (Oct. 16), the Watch’s Oct. 8 release date hopes to bring increased awareness to the widespread violations to the right to adequate food and nutrition experienced throughout the world and to propose creative solutions, most often generated at the local level.
The 1966 International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights was elaborated in 1999 to define the right to adequate food as realized when “every man, woman and child, alone or in community with others, has physical and economic access at all times to adequate food or means for its procurement.” Still, 14 years later and to the shame of the Millennium Development Goals to halve hunger by 2015, the right to adequate food is unrealized for close to one billion people worldwide.