Accountability as important as feeding the hungry, says UN right to food expert on follow-up to Summit on World Food Security

6 June 2008

Geneva:- -“The right to food is not only about feeding the hungry in times of emergency. It is about improving accountability. It requires that we focus on the most vulnerable segments of the population. It brings into the debate requirements of accountability and participation which, regrettably, are absent from the current responses of the international community” stated the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food, Olivier De Schutter, today in Geneva.

In his presentation of the results of the Rome High-Level Conference, the Special Rapporteur commented on the Final Declaration adopted at the Conference and the Draft Comprehensive Framework for Action which is to guide the efforts of UN agencies in tackling the global food crisis. “An approach centered on the right to adequate food could contribute to these initiatives and oblige us to address the questions of power and accountability which distinguish the global food crisis from a natural disaster.”

“Hunger is man-made. What misguided policies have caused, better focused policies can undo,” noted Mr. De Schutter.

“While there is general agreement about the need to massively reinvest in agriculture in developing countries, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa, a number of questions remain open after the Rome High-Level Conference on World Food Security convened by the FAO”, said the Special Rapporteur. “Those questions include how to promote agriculture so as to increase global food production and ensure that supply matches growing demand; how to reconcile food security with the energy needs of the planet; how to combat the speculation on futures markets which increase costs for food-importing countries; how to address the role of the private sector and its human rights responsibilities; and how to ensure appropriate attention to the social and environmental impact of the initiatives which are being launched.”

Mr. De Schutter was reporting back from the High-Level Conference on World Food Security that took place this week in Rome to the 8th session of the Human Rights Council. The Council had asked him at its Special Session on 22 May to ensure that the right to food was addressed in the answers given to the global food crisis at the Rome meeting.

Statements of the Special Rapporteur on the world food crisis and additional information on the mandate can be found at He can be reached at