Negotiations on Agriculture: WTO must Recognize the Human Right to Adequate Food

They have often been displaced from their land as an effect of the importation of highly subsidized agricultural exports from the developed world. More than 36 million will die from hunger this year, according to the FAO. 75% of people facing hunger live in rural areas. Over ¾ of people living on less than 1 USD per day are small farmers (around 900 million people worldwide). The majority is women.

This alarming situation of hunger is intimately linked to the agricultural trade policies practiced by powerful members of the World Trade Organization (WTO). These policies have had devastating impacts on the lives and livelihoods of the poor around the world. These policies also conflict with the human rights obligations of WTO member states, in particular those of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. 116 of the 146 WTO member states have ratified the ICESCR. In doing so, they freely accepted to take steps, including the adoption of national legislation, in order to achieve the progressive realization of the right to food.

During the 1993 Vienna Human Rights Conference, 171 governments -most of them being present in Cancún- arrived at the consensus that it is the first responsibility of governments to promote and protect human rights. WTO process appears to be jettisoning this consensus.
Despite commitments made by governments in the Doha Declaration to prioritize a development agenda including food security and the protection of rural livelihoods, these governments have failed to live up to their human rights commitments.

Noting the benefits that human rights bring to fair, sustainable and equitable trade policies, the WTO members must take into account their human rights obligations in the negotiation of trade agreements, including the monitoring and evaluation of their impacts on human rights. Such procedures should use indicators, which take into account gender discrimination and any other forms of inequalities.

Any deal reached on agriculture in Cancún that does not duly take into account the right to food is fundamentally flawed. It will ultimately lead to the worsening of the crisis faced by small farmers all over the world.

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  • Co-signatories

    Signatories to "The WTO Must Recognize the Right to Adequate Food" statement

    All India Women’s Education Fund Association
    Canada Tibet Committee
    Canadian Catholic Organisation for Development & Peace (CCDOP)
    Canadian Council for International Cooperation
    Canadian Environmental Law Association (CELA )
    Canadian Foodgrains Bank
    Centro de Derechos Humanos y Medios Ambiante (CEDHA) - (Argentina)
    Comite Catholique contre la Faim et pour le developement (CCFD) - (France)
    Development Fund (Norway)
    Diverse Women for Diversity
    Eldoret (Kenya)
    ENDA tiers-monde (Senegal)
    Fédération internationale des ligues des droits de l’Homme (FIDH)
    FIAN International
    Focus on the Global South (Thailand)
    Germanwatch
    Grantmakers without Borders (USA)
    Housing and Land Rights Committee (HIC-HLRC) - (India)
    Human Rights in China (HRIC) - (Hong Kong)
    IBON (Philippines)
    Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP) - (USA)
    International NGO Committee on Human Rights in Trade and Investment (INCHRITI)
    International Peoples’ Health Coalition (India)
    Latin American and Caribbean Committee for the Defense of Women’s Rights (CLADEM)
    Margarita Y Titi Figueroa (Mexico)
    National Institute of Agriculture (India)
    Oxfam International
    Peoples Movement for Human Rights Education (PDHRE) - (India)
    Peoples’ Health Movement (India)
    Project Peacemakers (Canada)
    Rights & Democracy
    Right to Food Campaign (India)
    RODI (Kenya)
    WEDO (Guyana)
    Women in Development Europe (WIDE)
    Women’s Edge Coalition (USA)
    World Organisation against Torture (OMCT)
    Youth for Unity and Voluntary Action (YUVA) - (India)


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