Human Rights Council
22 May 2008

The Human Rights Council held its seventh Special Session today and adopted a resolution on the negative impact on the realization of the right to food of the worsening world food crisis, caused inter alia by the soaring food prices.

In the resolution, which was adopted by consensus, the Council expressed grave concern at the worsening world food crisis, which seriously undermined the realization of the right to food for all and also expressed grave concern that this crisis threatened to further undermine the realization of the right to food for all. The Council called upon States, individually and through international cooperation and assistance, and other relevant stakeholders, to take all necessary measures to ensure the realization of the right to food as an essential human rights objective, and consider reviewing any policy or measure which could have a negative impact on the realization of the right to food. The Council stressed that States had the primary obligation to make their best efforts to meet the vital food needs of their own population, especially of vulnerable groups and households, while the international community should provide, through a coordinated response and upon request, support to national and regional efforts in terms of providing the necessary assistance for increasing food production.

The Special Session was called by Cuba, on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, together with Egypt on behalf of the African Group, Pakistan on behalf of the Group of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, Palestine on behalf of the Group of Arab States, and also in the name of Bosnia-Herzegovina, Brazil, China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Romania, the Russian Federation, Slovenia, Switzerland, Ukraine, the United Kingdom and Uruguay. A number of non-members of the Council also joined the request. Forty-one out of the 47 Council members and 41 non-members signed the request of the Special Session.

General Assembly Resolution 60/251 which created the Human Rights Council states in its operative paragraph 10 that the Council “shall be able to hold Special Sessions when needed at the request of a member of the Council with the support of one-third of the membership of the Council”.

According to an explanatory note provided by the countries requesting the Special Session, it is estimated that 854 million people are in a state of food insecurity in the world. Sixty per cent of these persons live in Sub-Sahran Africa or in South Asia. In addition, two billion persons suffer from malnutrition, due to micronutrient deficiencies in vitamins and minerals. The world can produce enough food to feed twice the entire global population. Therefore, in a world overflowing with riches, hunger is not inevitable. It is a violation of human rights. The lack of purchasing power for those in need is at the heart of the problem of hunger and malnutrition. The current food crisis is major. Overall, the price of food commodities on the international markets rose by 83 per cent over the last 36 months. The realization of the right to food, like other human rights, requires that States pursue international cooperation. The current crisis calls for a coordinated action from the international community, guided by the obligations of all States under international law to respect the right to adequate food. The Human Rights Council should, as a matter or urgency, identify the solutions which a full respect for the right to adequate food calls for.

This was the seventh Special Session which the Human Rights Council convenes. It has held Special Sessions relating to Israel; Darfur, Sudan; and Myanmar. The next regular session of the Human Rights Council is scheduled to take place from 2 to 18 June 2008.


For use of the information media; not an official record