PHM-Exch> NEWS RELEASE - ENGLISH -- States must act now to fulfil famine victims’ right to food – UN expert
cschuftan at phmovement.org
Mon Oct 23 08:55:46 PDT 2017
From: Bahram Ghazi bghazi at ohchr.org [INESCR] <INESCR-noreply at yahoogroups.com
*States must act now to fulfil famine victims’ right to food – UN expert *
NEW YORK (23 October 2017) – The tragic reality of famine around the world
has revealed that many States are failing to uphold their legal
responsibilities, the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food, Hilal
Elver, told the UN General Assembly in New York today.
She also called for an urgent shift in thinking away from crisis reactions
and toward famine prevention.
“Contrary to popular belief, casualties resulting directly from combat
usually make up only a small proportion of deaths in conflict zones, with
most individuals in fact perishing from hunger and disease,” Ms. Elver said
in her annual *report*
<http://ap.ohchr.org/documents/dpage_e.aspx?si=A/72/188> to the General
The Special Rapporteur said that this year the world had faced the largest
humanitarian crisis since the creation of the United Nations. Around 20
million people faced famine and “devastating” starvation in crises in
north-east Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan, Syria and Yemen, all of which had
arisen from conflict.
Another estimated 70 million people in 45 countries currently require
emergency food assistance, an increase of 40 per cent from 2015, she said,
also highlighting the serious starvation and severe right to food
violations currently affecting the Rohingya people.
Ms. Elver hailed the “essential” work of the international humanitarian
system in getting food to conflict victims and lowering death tolls.
But she said States and other parties involved in conflicts needed to
recognize their own duty to act, and above all, avoid using hunger as a
weapon of war. The right to food is an unconditional human right and legal
entitlement for all people, not a discretionary option, she stressed.
“The human right to adequate food is a core right, indispensable for the
enjoyment of all other human rights,” Ms Elver stated. “Freedom from hunger
is accepted as part of customary international law, rendering it binding on
“It is crucial that the international community understands that it is an
international crime to intentionally block access to food, food aid, and to
destroy production of food. Such acts as crimes against humanity, or war
She added that the most serious cases should be referred to the
International Criminal Court for investigation and possible prosecution.
“If the international community is serious about the imperative character
of the right to food and the eradication of food insecurity in times of war
and peace, steps must be taken to encourage the implementation of existing
standards and to codify international law principles applicable to the
right to food,” the expert said.
The Special Rapporteur urged all governments to focus on long-term policies
to break the vicious cycle of recurring famines.
“Human rights violations, war crimes, repression and gross forms of
inequality are conditions that frequently give rise to famine,” she said.
“The attention and commitment of the international community must, as a
matter of the highest priority, be directed toward eliminating the root
causes of famine, and not limited to ad hoc responses to the agonizing
symptoms of the latest food emergency.”
*Ms. Hilal Elver** (Turkey) was appointed **Special Rapporteur on the right
to food* <http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Food/Pages/FoodIndex.aspx>* by the
Human Rights Council in 2014. She is a Research Professor, and global
distinguished fellow at the University of California, Law School Resnick
Food Law and Policy Center. She has a law degree, a Ph.D. from the
University of Ankara Law School, and SJD from the UCLA Law School. She
started her teaching career at the University of Ankara Faculty of Law. *
*The Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the **Special
of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of
independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of
the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms. Special
Procedures mandate-holders are independent human rights experts appointed
by the Human Rights Council to address either specific country situations
or thematic issues in all parts of the world. They are not UN staff and are
independent from any government or organization. They serve in their
individual capacity and do not receive a salary for their work.*
*For further information and media enquiries**, please contact Viktoria
Aberg (+41 22 917 9790 / **vaberg at ohchr.org* <vaberg at ohchr.org>*)*
*For media inquiries*
* related to other UN independent experts: Bryan Wilson – Media Unit (+ 41
22 917 9826 / **mediaconsultant2 at ohchr.org* <mediaconsultant2 at ohchr.org>*)
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