Digest 1 – Online discussion – Rights-based approaches to Food Security in Protracted Crises


We would like to share with
you the comments received during this first week of online discussion on 
Rights-based approaches to Food
Security in Protracted Crises

With this discussion, Joseph
and Mauricio
ask you to share your views and inputs on whether human
rights based approches 
can be a valid approach to increase food security in
areas affected by 
protracted crises.

This is the third discussion
of a series of four, which form part of the process to elaborate an 
for Action 
to address food insecurity in protracted crises. The
inputs received through these discussions will inform and shape the elaboration
of an Agenda for Action, which will be considered by the Committee on World
Food Security (CFS) 
in 2014.

Please read the full topic,
including the guiding questions, on the 
web page and join the discussion.

The text is also available in ArabicChineseFrenchRussian and Spanish and we accept comments in any of these languages. This discussion
will be open until
12 November 2013.

We thank you very much in
advance and look forward to reading your comments!

Feedback from
Joseph Schechla, convener of the discussion:

The “human
rights based approach” (HRBA) is—or should be—more than just lofty
philosophical notions conveyed in convoluted legal language. Indeed, one of the
most challenging aspects of the HRBA to food security in protracted crises is
in “operationalizing” the rights. For Human Rights advocates, this means also a
challenge to translate abstractions into actionable choices in the field, or
otherwise on the job, while also simplifying legal texts. Human Rights are
synonymous with human needs that all organs of states bear a corresponding
obligation to respect (by avoiding violation), to protect (by regulating third
parties) and to fulfil (through positive steps and measures). In Human Rights
law, states and their constituent parts bear these obligations severally and
collectively, domestically and extraterritorially. UN Charter-based
organizations share this framework, as Human Rights form one the three
inter-related purposes of the United Nations (with peace and security, and
forward development).

When a food-security
crisis becomes prolonged, fulfilling a Human Right and human need to nutritious
food requires longer-term considerations consistent with development
approaches. Human Rights principles necessarily guide such approaches by
reminding those in the field and the bureaus how food is related to other Human
Rights such as adequate housing, information, physical security, livelihoods
and participation. As the Human Rights Covenants provide, “in no case may a
people be deprived of its own means of subsistence.” Serial displacement
without consent of the subject population is, or land and water deprivation,
for example, are violations of a bundle of Human Rights.

Among the most
important guiding Human Rights principles to consider in such situations are
“self-determination,” “progressive realization” and “international cooperation”
in implementing obligations. That means that governments and international
agencies must ensure local consent, guarantees of no retrogression in access to
adequate and nutritious food and no deterioration of existing economic activity
in any case of a relocation.

Some of our
background materials for this e-discussion report how serial evictions and lack
of access to land and water have left IDP women to resort to exchanging sex for
food money. In other cases, states’ failure to implementing their
self-executing obligations to correct illegal land confiscations under
occupation have left farmers destitute and entire communities more dependent on
emergency food aid distributed and determined by external agents over long
years, leaving people without self-determination and their own means of

While these
cases have moral implications, neglecting to apply the legal imperatives that
correspond with them may exacerbate suffering, perpetuate open-ended,
“band-aid” solutions and lead us to fail as an international community to
uphold the elements (needs) of a civilized world proposed in the UN Charter
(one of peace and security, forward development and Human Rights). For these reasons,
the HRBA to food insecurity in protracted crises is indispensable if we are to
resolve crises, rather than just manage them with in effectual short-term
responses that may, at once, omit to remedy them.

Read Joseph’s
comment online

* To know more,
visit the discussion page or write to fsn-moderator@fao.org

This discussion is moderated by the Global Forum on Food Security and