Background: The United Nations’ (UN) Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food is an independent expert appointed to examine and report back on the right to food as it relates to situations in specific countries (example: West Africa, food and the Ebola crisis), or to a specific human rights theme (example: women’s access to land). This position is honorary; the appointed expert is not a staff of the UN nor paid for his/her work. Nonetheless, this position has great influence and authority as an advocate. For additional information about this post, please click on the United Nation’s page here. Dr. Hilal Elver recently replaced Dr. Oliver de Schutter in this position.
The non-profit news organization Truthout has conducted a far-ranging interview with Hilal Elver that covers numerous topics, including the Green Revolution, the right to food, food security, small farmers, public policy and feeding the world. Elver argues that “the concept of “right to food” means establishing a legal entitlement” that is enforceable.
Elver advocates for a human rights lens through which to consider food issues, saying:
“…food security is not about inadequate production of food; it’s about access to available and culturally acceptable food for all. If you look at how much the world produces in terms of calories, the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) reports that we have more than enough to feed everyone. But if you look at who is able to access these calories, and at what price, that’s where the problem lies. For example, an average Swiss family spends seven percent of its household budget on food, but a family in a developing country spends seventy percent of its household budget on food. We need to make food available, affordable, and sustainable for all. That is the human rights approach to food security. That is the lens through which countries need to be able to design their food and agriculture policies…”
You can read the full interview with Elver at Truthout by clicking this link.
Note to reader: Some of Elver’s arguments echo those made earlier this week by Mark Bittman, who argued that ending poverty was the way to feed the “9 billion.”