Thursday, December 25, 2008

Adequate food as a human right

In this season of feasting, many of us try to make sure that people who are down and out have something to eat. It's the least we can do. Above, donations to the San Francisco Food Bank contributed by shoppers at a local Safeway.

But last November 24, U.S. representatives at the United Nations sang a different tune. The proceedings of a Human Rights Working Group of the General Assembly report:

By a vote of 180 in favour to 1 against (United States) and no abstentions, the Committee also approved a resolution on the right to food, by which the Assembly would "consider it intolerable" that more than 6 million children still died every year from hunger-related illness before their fifth birthday, and that the number of undernourished people had grown to about 923 million worldwide, at the same time that the planet could produce enough food to feed 12 billion people, or twice the world's present population.

This seems an unexceptional sentiment, but the United States could not join the international consensus.

The United States felt that the attainment of the "right to adequate food" or the "right to be free from hunger" was a goal that should be realized progressively. The current resolution contained numerous objectionable provisions, including inaccurate textual descriptions of underlying rights. The United States was the largest food donor in the world of international humanitarian food aid and it would continue to work towards providing food security to all. In the future, he expressed hope that the co-sponsors would work to address his delegation's concerns, so the United States could join other countries in adopting the draft.

Huh? Diplomat speak for "don't you dare say adequate food is a human right, you might lessen our agribusiness profits"? Or maybe just objection that Cuba suggested the resolution? Or perhaps, concern that Isreal is using food as a weapon, strangling imports to Gaza? Though Israel itself voted for this one.

Only the United States held back in lonely opposition to the notion that eating is a human right.

H/t Newshoggers. I could find no news coverage of this vote aside from the United Nations report linked above.


Kay Dennison said...

I believe it. Talk to the people who receive food stamps -- especially elderas -- and ask if what they get is enough to buy adequate, decent food. Most will tell you no

Darlene said...

This is just one more example of this administrations lack of compassion. Big business rules.

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