HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL HOLDS INTERACTIVE DIALOGUE WITH EXPERTS ON THE RIGHT TO FOOD AND THE RIGHT TO ADEQUATE HOUSING
4 March 2013
The Human Rights Council at a midday meeting today held a clustered interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the right to food and the Special Rapporteur on adequate housing as a component of the right to an adequate standard of living.
Introducing his report, Olivier de Schutter, Special Rapporteur on the right to food, said that developments over the past year were encouraging and that efforts were being made to combat malnutrition, for example in the Sahel region. Mr. de Schutter said that closer cooperation was needed to ensure food security and there was a need for an inclusive forum where all food issues could be discussed jointly. The post-2015 agenda should include a strong accountability mechanism. Without accountability the global development goals would not make a real difference to the world’s poorest.
Raquel Rolnik, Special Rapporteur on adequate housing as a component of the right to an adequate standard of living, introducing her report, said that security of tenure constituted a cornerstone of the right to adequate housing. The Commission on Human Rights had noted in 1993 that forced evictions constituted a gross violation of a range of human rights and urged governments to confer legal security of tenure, and treaty bodies and Special Procedures had reiterated this call. People had a right to security of tenure as part of their human right to adequate housing, what needed clarification was how precisely this right could and should be recognized, protected and realized, through a variety of tenure forms.
Canada, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, Palestine, Rwanda, and the National Human Rights Institute of Rwanda spoke as concerned parties.
During the interactive dialogue speakers welcomed the focus on women and the obstacles to their enjoyment of the right to food. Speakers highlighted national efforts to remove these obstacles, such as those related to agriculture, domestic work and the current division of labour; and emphasised the need to address the determinants of discrimination, among other barriers, as part of a rights-based approach to the right to food, for example, in the areas of education, health and empowerment. Women should not be regarded as passive help-recipients but rather as key actors for the transformation of society. It was noted that the right to food illustrated how discrimination against women and girls had a negative cumulative effect throughout women’s lifespan and breaking the cycle of discrimination was urgently needed.
Inadequate housing and tenancy insecurity posed complex challenges and speakers noted national measures taken to promote this right, including the development of equitable housing policies targeting disadvantaged groups. While delegations generally agreed that inadequate and insecure tenure rights did increase vulnerability, some speakers expressed reservations concerning some of the conclusions and recommendations in the report, and did not believe that security of tenure constituted a right under international law. Some speakers expressed concerns about reports of discriminatory practices in Israel and forced evictions or threats of forced evictions in Brazil, among other countries.
Speaking in the interactive dialogue were: Cuba, Germany, Bahrain on behalf of the Arab Group, Costa Rica, Venezuela, on behalf of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas, Gabon, on behalf of the African Group, Chile, Pakistan on behalf of the Organization for Islamic Cooperation, Brazil, European Union, Finland, Burkina Faso, Peru, Thailand, Switzerland, Benin, United States, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Mexico, Morocco, Algeria, Ethiopia, India, Guatemala, Iran, Malaysia, Egypt, Djibouti, Indonesia, Sierra Leone, China, Botswana, Syria, Senegal, Norway, Kuwait, Luxembourg, Angola and Libya. The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and the United Nations Human Settlements Programme also took the floor.
Representatives of Conectas Direitos Humanos, International Federation for Human Rights, Centre for Equality Rights in Accommodation, BADIL Resource Centre for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights, FIAN International, African Technology and Development Link and International Association for Democracy in Africa also took the floor.
In concluding remarks, Mr. de Schutter hoped the Food and Agriculture Organization Council could consider the gender dimension further. At the next session of the General Assembly, Mr. de Schutter said he would present a report on implementation of the right to food and, meanwhile, his last report to the Human Rights Council would summarize previous work and look at opportunities for the future.
Ms. Rolnik, in her concluding remarks, remained optimistic about the implementation by Israel of her recommendations on Palestine and expressed the hope that Israel would engage with the Council in a constructive manner. The Council would be the perfect place to develop guidelines on the security of tenure for the urban poor, complementing the work of the Food and Agriculture Organization and Mr. de Schutter’s as part of his mandate. It was important to recognize that there was no hierarchy between private property and the right to housing for all.
This afternoon, at 5 p.m., the Council will start a clustered interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteurs on torture and on the situation of human rights defenders.
The Council has before it the Report submitted by the Special Rapporteur on the right to food, Olivier de Schutter - Women’s rights and the right to food (A/HRC/22/50); a first corrigendum to the report of the Special Rapporteur on the right to food (A/HRC/22/50/Corr.1), an addendum to the report of the Special Rapporteur on the right to food concerning his mission to Canada (A/HRC/22/50/Add.1), an addendum to the report of the Special Rapporteur on the right to food concerning his mission to Cameroon (A/HRC/22/50/Add.2); and an addendum to the report of the Special Rapporteur on the right to food concerning his mission to the Food and Agriculture Organization (A/HRC/22/50/Add.3).
The Council has before it the Report of the Special Rapporteur on adequate housing as a component of the right to an adequate standard of living, and on the right to non-discrimination in this context, Raquel Rolnik (A/HRC/22/46); an addendum to the report of the Special Rapporteur on adequate housing concerning her mission to the occupied Arab territories and Israel (A/HRC/22/46/Add.1); an addendum to the report of the Special Rapporteur on adequate housing concerning her mission to Rwanda (A/HRC/22/46/Add.2); and an addendum to the report of the Special Rapporteur on adequate housing concerning her mission to the World Bank (A/HRC/22/46/Add.3).
Presentation of the Reports on the Right to Food and the Right to Adequate Housing
OLIVIER DE SCHUTTER, Special Rapporteur on the right to food, said that developments over the past year were encouraging and that efforts were being made to combat malnutrition. For example, he had been impressed by the commitment of those working in the Sahel region, where malnutrition rates were particularly high, and welcomed the constructive spirit with which Cameroon had examined his recommendation to ensure that the local population enjoyed their right to food.
Mr. de Schutter said that closer cooperation was needed to ensure food security, which was a global public good, and that there was need for an inclusive forum where all food issues could be discussed jointly. Various measures had been taken in that respect which demonstrated the usefulness of a multilateral approach to food security rooted in the recognition of the right to food as a fundamental human right. For example, the right to food had been given a pre-eminent place at the Rio+20 Conference. The post-2015 agenda should include a strong accountability mechanism, both domestic and international, because without accountability the global development goals would not make a real difference to the world’s poorest and would lead to less inclusive societies. Particular attention should be paid to the need to support less advanced and low income countries in order to help them establish basic social protection for their populations. Expertise and funding should be mobilized to help the least developed countries to fund social protection programmes and to provide protection and an underwriting mechanism.
Mr. de Schutter said his report on the right to food focused on gender equality in particular and on explaining why ensuring equality between men and women could be a fundamental tool for tackling the problems of hunger and malnutrition. There was evidence suggesting that 43 per cent of the reduction of food insecurity in developing countries could be attributed to the increased access of women to education, and all studies pointed to a strong correlation between education and food equality. The feminization of agriculture was important in that respect. Women who were less well educated tended to stay behind while men migrated to urban environments to seek employment. Women looked after the family and also the family farm, which was supported by remittances sent by the husband from the city. But often women did not have enough access to the necessary means to overcome obstacles facing them, so they had difficulty reconciling their family and work responsibilities. Moreover, women working in plantations were often victims of discrimination and were unable to ensure through their work that they could provide for their families. It was crucial to support women as farmers and to strengthen their bargaining position within the household. The adoption by the Council of a resolution on the right to food at the current session would send out an important message concerning the gender dimension of food security policy.
RAQUEL ROLNIK, Special Rapporteur on adequate housing as a component of the right to an adequate standard of living, presenting her thematic report and reports on missions to Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory, Rwanda, and the World Bank, said that security of tenure constituted a cornerstone of the right to adequate housing, and its absence or negation was one of the most acute vulnerabilities likely to lead to a range of human rights violations. Amidst a current global tenure insecurity crisis, millions of people lived under the daily threat of eviction, or in an ambiguous situation where their tenure status was challenged by authorities or private actors at any time, and the most marginalized and poorest bore the brunt of the insecurity burden. Guidance from human rights mechanisms was clear and comprehensive concerning security of tenure as a way to prevent forced evictions. The Commission on Human Rights had noted in 1993 that forced evictions constituted a gross violation of a range of human rights and urged governments to confer legal security of tenure, and treaty bodies and Special Procedures had reiterated this call. People had a right to security of tenure as part of their human right to adequate housing, what needed clarification was precisely how this right could and should be recognized, protected and realized, through a variety of tenure forms.
Israel had made remarkable achievements in securing adequate housing for immigrant Jews following independence. Since the 1990s, the Government of Israel has increasingly disengaged from the housing sector, relying on market incentives, which had led to inequality. Israel continued to dedicate resources to the expansion of settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. The State’s engagement in the settlement enterprise violated international law and seriously worsened the living conditions of Palestinians under occupation. Ms. Rolnik commended the Government of Rwanda for its understanding of the concept of “adequate housing” and for its efforts and successes in the fight against poverty and the improvement of living conditions for its population. Ms. Rolnik stressed the importance of the World Bank’s safeguard on Involuntary Resettlement in encouraging respect for and the realization of the right to adequate housing in connection with World Bank-financed projects. Current Bank operations included financing projects and broader State reforms which could have adverse implications but were currently not subject to the Bank’s current safeguards policy framework or equivalent requirements to prevent harm.
Statements by Concerned Parties
Canada said that the great majority of Canadians were food secure but national statistics showed that there were vulnerable persons and groups for whom regular access to food remained a challenge. Canada was taking concrete steps to improve this, and it was a leader in advancing global food security. Canada expressed concern about the approach which the Special Rapporteur had taken in an attempt to assess Canadian laws. He had focused on issues which exceeded his mandate, such as the constitutional status of Canada’s indigenous peoples. He had also demonstrated a lack of understanding of Canada’s size and diversity. The United Nations had failed to appreciate the cooperative nature of Canada’s federal system of government, which Canada saw as one of its strengths.
The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization stressed that the right to food was at the heart of the eradication of hunger and said that, as highlighted in the Special Rapporteur’s report, women indeed had an important role to play in the process. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization intended to establish an independent assessment of hunger eradication programmes and of their contribution towards the realization of the right to food. It would also look at how the right to food could be integrated in its policies, while undertaking efforts to sensitize governments to the importance of the right to food.
Palestine said that it highly valued the report on the right to housing and called upon the Council to adopt the concluding observations of the report and to implement the report’s recommendations in order to prevent further violations systematically practiced by Israel against the Palestinian people. The concluding remarks of the report stated that Israel systematically ignored the rights enshrined in international law and expanded settlements in occupied Palestine, which was a flagrant violation of international law and led to the worsening of the living conditions of Palestinians. Israel’s planning, construction, and land use violated the right of Palestinians to adequate housing and was a discriminatory law that did not allow the people under occupation to enjoy their rights with dignity and equality.
Rwanda reiterated its commitment to cooperating with all Special Procedures and said that the Special Rapporteur had rightly noted the specific and unique historical and geopolitical context of post-genocide Rwanda. It was in this context that Rwanda sought to realize the goals set out in the comprehensive development strategy. A number of challenges remained, in particular, poverty and demographic pressure. Some of the recommendations made by Special Rapporteurs would be considered in the context of reviews and reforms currently underway, and the law on expropriation for public interest and the law on land were currently under review before parliament. Rwanda took note of the recommendations contained in the report and its Government would consider them carefully
Chairperson of the National Human Rights Commission of Rwanda, said that Rwanda’s Human Rights Commission held a meeting with the Special Rapporteur and welcomed the report and its judicious recommendations concerning the promotion of the right to housing in Rwanda. Concerning villagisation, the Commission subscribed to the recommendation concerning the evaluation of this policy to identify successes and failures and to make the relevant corrections. Concerning the situation of the Batwa people, the Commission noted that in addition to the Government’s efforts there needed to be specific actions to ensure Batwa people achieved a minimum socio-economic level. The Commission would continue to provide legal opinions concerning draft legislation on land tenure and socio-economic activities, and would continue to advocate the integration of Batwa people, including through human rights programmes for authorities and law enforcement officials.
Interactive Dialogue on the Right to Food and the Right to Adequate Housing
Cuba took note of the report on women’s rights and the right to food, and the importance of mainstreaming a human rights perspective, in particular concerning the right to food. Cuba also took note of the report concerning the Special Rapporteur’s mission to the Food and Agriculture Organization and inquired about the mandate holder’s expectations concerning the implementation of the report’s recommendations. With regards to the unequal distribution of wealth and unfair economic order promoted by neoliberal recipes, there was need for an increase in trade and development so that thousands of millions could achieve real purchasing power. International solidarity for combating hunger was also needed. Cuba would be submitting a resolution on the right to food and invited all interested delegations to participate. There needed to be full compliance with the Code of Conduct of Special Procedures as it constituted an obligation which should be upheld by all mandate holders when carrying out their mandates.
Germany said that security of tenure mattered and the right to be free from the fear of forced eviction was a vital dimension of adequate housing. The obligation to confer legal security while considering various forms of tenure and the relevance of non-discrimination remained an enormous challenge for international human rights bodies. Could the Special Rapporteur on the right to housing give examples of good practices where States were able to reduce tenure insecurity? Also, given that the application of the Voluntary Guidelines on Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests was not restricted to agricultural land, did the Special Rapporteur see any added value of the document for tenure security with respect to housing?
Bahrain, speaking on behalf of the Arab Group, said that the two reports presented were complementary in many ways. The lack of acquisition security was in itself a violation of human rights, which had been confirmed by the report of the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. The Special Rapporteur’s recommendations on Israel should be implemented immediately both by Israel and by the international community, and all possible alternatives should be considered by Israel before evicting people. Concerning discrimination cases, the Arab Group refused stereotyping which undermined the status and dignity of women. Discriminatory customs should not be confused with traditions which would be better understood if the history and diversity of nations were taken into account.
Costa Rica said that the international community now had access to a valuable series of studies and excellent practices which should be taken into account in addition to exchanging opinions with the Special Rapporteurs. There was no doubt that women and girls were vulnerable in many parts of the world, so practices with clear gender criteria needed to be set up to tackle such problems. Combating hunger could not be simply resolved by providing food. Ownership of land was vital but it was also important for women to have access to credit. Women should also have the same access to productive resources that men did. The recommendations of the Special Rapporteur on the right to housing should be taken into account by policy-makers.
Venezuela, speaking in a joint statement on behalf of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas, said that it was essential to take into account the needs of women and girls, as well as specific limitations affecting women and changing the current gender-based division. The burden of domestic work should be lightened and the division of function between sexes should also be re-considered. The systematic assessment of progress made was also essential. Venezuela also welcomed the report of the Special Rapporteur on the right to housing, this was an issue that constituted one of the most complex challenges and was fundamental for preventing displacement and dispossession. The Code of Conduct for mandate holders was designed to strengthen their capacity to fulfill their functions and to heighten their moral authority and credibility, and it was necessary that it counted with the support of all stakeholders.
Gabon, speaking on behalf of the African Group, said that the African Group recognized the host of challenges faced by women when it came to fulfilling their right to food, in particular with regards to decision making. The African Group endorsed the need to carry out efforts to eliminate all forms of discrimination against women. Difficulties met in implementing the right to food were often not the result of deliberate policy but the result of precarious economic conditions and underdevelopment. While many countries sought to implement mechanisms to address this issue, the African Group supported the recommendation to promote the autonomy of women, the creation of economic opportunities, and improving access to education for girls. The African Group remained convinced that there was a direct link between the right to food and the right to development.
Chile said that women suffered from discrimination and lack of opportunities, this was part of a cycle of discrimination which resulted in poverty and exclusion. It was important to take legal measures and implement multi-sector policies to address the main factors behind discrimination. Chile agreed with the Special Rapporteur that more employment, social protection, and access to production means would promote conditions for the full exercise of the right to food; and shared the recommendation concerning key tasks such as incorporating the right to food in the post-2015 goals. Concerning the report of the Special Rapporteur on the right to housing, it was important to address tenure and mainstream the human rights dimension. Chile asked the Special Rapporteur how to perfect the legal security certainty aspect of tenure and how to take into account the specificities of each country. Good practices concerning different models available would be helpful.
Pakistan, speaking on behalf of the Organization for Islamic Cooperation, said that the comments by the Special Rapporteur on the “care economy” should further be analysed in terms of women’s free will to choose between employment and looking after the family. The free will of women to engage in household activities should not be viewed as discrimination. The Organization for Islamic Cooperation was deeply concerned by the systematic and organized destruction of private and public properties of the Palestinian people throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territories and called on Israel to immediately stop its illegal practices and to revise its laws in a matter that fully corresponded with international norms and standards.
Brazil said that the security of tenure mattered because it meant a lot to families and individuals. The lack of security of tenure left vulnerable groups under high risk of human rights violations. Brazil agreed that there was a need for more specific and comprehensive human rights and operations guidance on security of tenure and supported further action of the Council on the issue. What were the next steps envisaged by the Special Rapporteur for the discussion of the topic and how could Member States further contribute to her work?
European Union shared the view that States had the duty to ensure gender equality and promote the empowerment of women and was interested in learning about best practices in tackling this challenge that may have been identified. It enquired as to whether the Special Rapporteur could elaborate on best practices related to the challenges of integrating a human rights perspective into existing strategies and programmes both bilateral and multilateral. The European Union was also interested in hearing about identified practices, policies and measures to learn from in order to promote recognition and protection of security of tenure.
Finland said that the security of tenure as a component of the right to adequate housing was a topical issue. Progressive urbanization and more intensive use of land could lead to growing inequalities in the right to housing if the universal human rights and the equal rights of the most vulnerable were not respected. The challenge was common in developed and developing countries. To tackle these challenges, more transparent and inclusive management practices were needed in urban development projects. Non-discriminatory laws and policies provided a normative ground to protect the rights of women and the poor. Equitable reforms and land management had been part of Finland’s development policy and assistance to improve tenure security and land governance had been provided.
Burkina Faso said that a lot remained to be done concerning the right to food. Burkina Faso was taking legislative measures to ensure that the production of food was in keeping with the demand and which addressed a number of issues, such as land tenure, production and other important steps. Burkina Faso inquired about good practices and cooperation between States and the United Nations which had proven helpful to ensure the right to food, in particular in countries undergoing food crises such as the Sahel region. It was vital to ensure that human dignity was upheld in this regard and Burkina Faso was undertaking reforms to ensure that citizens had access to adequate housing. How did the Special Rapporteur see the subsidizing of access to land for women, in particularly for the development of countries such as Burkina Faso?
Peru said Peru was making real efforts to eradicate poverty and social exclusion and promoted the participation of women in community decision-making, including on primary education and productive activities. Other programmes provided direct support through transfer as an incentive to promote the use of health, nutrition and education services. Peru welcomed the launch of the international year of Quinoa and the designation of Nadine Heredia, First Lady of Peru, and President Evo Morales of Bolivia as ambassadors. A broad range of people were affected by tenancy insecurity that made living conditions precarious. Peru counted on support programmes in the housing sector to promote equitable access to housing at different socio-economic levels; and for transferring resources to and improving living conditions in poor and disadvantages areas.
Thailand shared the view that education was the basic and most important human right that helped promote equal treatment and employment opportunities between men and women, and it attached high priority to the education for girls. Women’s empowerment was at the heart of the Government’s policy. Thailand recognised the importance of the female agricultural workforce and was committed to providing equal access to productive resources, markets, as well as social safety nets for both male and female farmers.
Switzerland shared the view of the Special Rapporteur on the need to break the vicious cycle of discrimination faced by women. Switzerland was aware that it was crucial to facilitate access to land, water, energy and credits and eliminate discriminatory customary legislative norms. In the current context of the economic crisis, how could States be convinced of the need and added value of investing in the “care economy”? Switzerland was concerned about the housing situation and discrimination against the most vulnerable communities in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.
Benin said that following the visit of the Special Rapporteur on the right to food in 2009, it had implemented bold and diverse measures to ensure food self-sufficiency through programmes and projects to enhance food production along with income generating production. In addition to projects and programmes the State provided subsidies for famers to ensure that vital food stuffs were produced, and the idea was to counter the effects of the world economic crisis. Benin invited the international community to support Benin in implementing the right to food.
United States said that women were central to the development of rural areas and to national economies. The United States’ food security and nutrition efforts highlighted the importance of these complex, cross-cutting issues. The United States did not believe that the security of tenure was a human right under international law, but agreed that inadequate and insecure tenure rights did increase vulnerability. The United States did not agree with all the analyses and conclusions of the Special Rapporteur on the right to housing, and considered the right to adequate housing as one component of the right to an adequate standard of living, and would like to hear more concerning how security of tenure could be enhanced while respecting individual property rights.
Saudi Arabia said that concerning the report on the right of food and the obstacles faced by women, the Special Rapporteur recommended that the needs of women were considered in food strategies. The report on the right to housing mentioned fundamental aspects of this right and its enhancement without discrimination. Saudi Arabia had adopted a national strategy to enhance food production and this had led to a significant increase in agricultural production. Saudi Arabia had also made significant humanitarian contributions. Other measures had also been taken with regards to the right to housing. Saudi Arabia wished the Special Rapporteurs success in the continuation of their mandates.
Afghanistan welcomed the approach to threats to women’s right to food in relation to other discriminatory practices. Afghanistan was committed to ensuring women’s rights in various areas. This commitment was shown by enacting a law on the elimination of violence against women in 2009, which defined 22 different forms of violence against women, including denial of the right to property, the right of education, work, and access to health services. The Afghan Government had also developed a National Plan of Action for women, which committed the Government to ensure women’s access to education, vocational training and employment, to provide legal protection and revise all discriminatory laws, among other measures.
Mexico said that a few weeks ago it had set up a national system based on a human rights perspective, regarding the right of every individual to be protected from hunger. Both men and women could participate on an equal footing in the strategies adopted to eliminate hunger and malnutrition. The results would be measured by Mexico’s national council that assessed national development policy. Mexico restated its willingness to continue to work with the Special Rapporteur to ensure a right to sufficient, quality and nutritious food.
Morocco shared the conclusion on the importance of food security strategies focusing on the empowerment of women and their right to food. Morocco had an integration plan for women. What were the best practices when it came to reconciling the empowerment of rural women and ensuring the cohesion of the family and social fabric, especially when it came to children? Could the Special Rapporteur specify how risky it would be to use title deeds as a way of guaranteeing security of tenure?
Algeria said that better promotion of the rights of women based on improved access to production resources and social protection as part of a multi-sectoral policy to counter discrimination and stereotypes would contribute significantly to the enjoyment of the right to food by women. Algeria shared the view that security of tenure should be understood as the legal underpinning against forced evictions. Foreign occupation was also a threat to security of tenure, and this was true in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.
Ethiopia attached great importance to improving the productivity of the agricultural sector of the economy to ensure the effective realization of food security. Ethiopia had given special emphasis to food security and had exerted its utmost effort to achieve an environmentally sustainable, people-centred agricultural policy. Ethiopia had achieved high growth in the agricultural sector in the last decade and this had benefited millions of small-scale farmers and contributed its share to the realization of the food security programme. To supplement the productivity of small-scale holding farmers, the Government had also encouraged investors to use uncultivated and unsettled areas in order to further secure food sufficiency in the country.
India said that the Special Rapporteur on the right to food had explored the relationship between women’s rights and the right to food, and it was crucial that society saw women less as passive recipients of help and more as dynamic promoters of social transformation. Education, employment and ownership rights of women had a powerful influence on their ability to control their environment and contribute to economic development. The right to adequate housing was an important component of the right to live with dignity but also an obvious component of the right to equality. The Supreme Court had placed great emphasis on guaranteeing housing rights.
Guatemala noted that the main obstacle hampering the right to food was discrimination against women. In order to provide an integrated attention to these social problems in Guatemala, three national priorities had been set up concerning peace and zero-hunger. A Ministry of Social Development had been created to institutionalise social protection and 800,000 rural women had been brought into the housing system, promoting that women were in control of their own resources. Concerning the demands of peasant women, single mothers, and women with disabilities, measures had also been taken. Guatemala recognised that the challenges were enormous but in the areas of gender equalities and food security, progress had been made.
Iran said that a growing number of people across Canada were unable to meet their basic food needs and it shared concerns over the deep food insecurity faced by indigenous peoples. Iran called upon the Government of Canada to be responsible and respect its obligations towards aborigines and stop violations of their rights. As there was a close relation between the right to food and that of adequate housing, Iran recommended that both Special Rapporteurs submit a joint report concerning the human rights tragedies happening in indigenous communities in Canada.
Malaysia shared the concerns on the broad range of discriminatory practices against women that might affect their right to food. Malaysia had adopted a number of measures to mainstream gender perspectives into the development process. It also shared concerns on the issue of insecurity of tenure due to forced eviction and displacement resulting from development, natural disasters and conflicts, among others. It that regard, it had adopted the Policy and Mechanism on National Disasters and Relief Management.
Egypt said that without elements of justice and equality, national and global efforts to achieve food security were never complete or effective. Egypt was conscious of the challenges related to the right of women to food around the world and realised its far-reaching and multi-dimensional impact on the lives of women and their empowerment opportunities, as well as on the health of children and their care and nutritional needs. Women’s unimpeded access to the right to food without any discrimination was a legal responsibility that should be respected by all States.
Djibouti said that the global food crisis of 2008 obliged States to look into food policies and to ensure that most of the produced food was allocated to human consumption, rather than for other purposes. Development of multifunctional agriculture required political will, information centres for diffusion of scientific information, the participation of peasants in decision-making, and access to local markets. Djibouti attached great importance to the conclusions and recommendations contained in the report of the Special Rapporteur on the right to food, and in particular to the follow-up mechanism.
Indonesia said that its National Action Plan for Food and Nutrition 2011-2015 was based on efforts to improve the nutrition levels of communities, increase accessibility of food, improve quality control and food security, and strengthen institutions. How should States prioritize their food and women-empowerment programmes to enhance the welfare of their people? Tenure security was one of the fundamental priorities and Indonesia asked the Special Rapporteur to share best practices and lessons learned on the establishment of complete legal and policy guidance to support tenure security.
Sierra Leone said that women who were main breadwinners in households often had the most difficulty accessing food, which was worrying in terms of the impact on the whole family. Gender equality still needed to be translated into action and all factors that hampered women’s access to food needed to be analyzed and remedial action taken. The economic growth in Sub-Saharan Africa had not been translated in reduced rates of hunger and malnutrition that affected a quarter of its population. Sierra Leone warned that security of tenure should not be granted in settlements on river and sea banks or on mountain sides where risk of erosion and landslide were high.
China said that China was in favour of the inclusion of the gender perspective in the discussion on the right to food. The global economic and financial crisis had further worsened the food crisis. The lack of investment in agriculture, environmental degradation and natural disasters also had a negative impact. China called for the Special Rapporteur to take a broader perspective of the right to food and for more practical views to be made available on developing countries and their development of the right to food.
Botswana said that Botswana recognized the importance of women in any society and the need to address their social and economic status so it had put in place poverty eradication policies and programmes aimed at availing opportunities to everyone, including women. A number of measures and initiatives had been put in place to enable every citizen to secure shelter, and even improve existing ones. There was a need to allocate land in a more equitable manner through proper planning policies, laws and regulations, which contribute to tenure security and adequate standard of living.
Syria said that Syria had worked unfailingly to secure the rights of women, which were on the vanguard. It drew attention to the continued marginalization of women in the Syrian Occupied Golan, where the occupying authority prohibited any institution that may allow women to play a role and contribute to social life. In the current crisis, Syria faced many violations committed by terrorist and extremist armed groups that were oppressing women and violating their rights. Syria called upon the international community to condemn those barbaric practices and called for an end to violations of human rights committed by those groups that deprived people of basic food stuffs.
Senegal said that the link between the right to food and women’s rights in the report of the Special Rapporteur on the right to food was timely, as women occupied increasingly important places in societies. A holistic approach would best favour the contribution of women to the right of food as they could play the greatest role within the framework of a balanced approach. Trade rules, posing obstacles to the enjoyment of the right to food by women, must be tackled; they imposed high costs of living on Africa, as attested by high food prices. How could the right to food be implemented in the post-2015 development agenda?
Norway said that the report on the right to food illustrated how discrimination of women and girls had a cumulative negative effect throughout women’s lifespan and said that breaking the cycle of discrimination was urgently needed. States had the obligation to remove discriminatory legal provisions and to combat discrimination based on social or cultural norms. Norway asked about the types of investments needed to reduce the burden of household chores on women, such as fetching water or firewood, and requested examples of incentives that rewarded public administrations for including a gender perspective in relevant laws and policies.
Kuwait said that the right to food was one of the key issues facing the world today. It was urgent to find solutions to food crises and to ensure food security, particularly for developing countries, which faced serious threats to the most fundamental rights of all: the right to life. Kuwait had made important investments to increase the food security of its people, including in the fisheries sector. Food security in Syria was of serious concern and Kuwait had made an important pledge to the United Nations World Food Programme during the latest International Humanitarian Pledging Conference for Syria.
Venezuela agreed with the Special Rapporteur that the poorest and most marginalised bore the heaviest brunt in the area of land tenure; and highlighted the fact that this was a priority policy for the State. Venezuela had made renewed efforts in order to progressively guarantee adequate housing with the aim of satisfying the right of adequate housing of the Venezuelan people, to allow families a dignified, adequate and healthy environment. Policies in the field of food were also a priority. Venezuela had also developed strategic policies to reduce the malnutrition indices.
Luxembourg recalled that every day 25,000 persons, mainly children, died of hunger and malnutrition, and that one billion went to bed hungry. There was a need to persevere in efforts and results achieved, and to tackle the issues of malnutrition and food security. Luxembourg supported the appeal made to States to combat discrimination based on social and cultural norms. What type of cooperation with the International Labour Organization would be advisable concerning these issues, and how could the report be brought to the attention of the International Labour Organization?
Angola said that through its reform of the land legislation Angola had inserted extensive guidance to the prohibition of forced eviction and the strict procedural safeguards that should be followed in situations in which evictions were carried out. Angola had also put in place a comprehensive National Strategy for Food and Nutrition Security to reduce poverty, especially in rural areas, which would act as a tool to complement national efforts in food safety and nutrition and could significantly contribute to greater national and international interaction concerning food security.
International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said that the lack of security tenure constituted a key vulnerability for many households at risk. This was an issue of concern not only to urban planners and human rights organizations, but an issue that had wide implications on humanitarian action. One of the key barriers to the provision of shelter after disaster was the lack of recognition of diverse forms of tenure, not limited to titled property ownership. There was a need to find practical solutions for addressing regulatory barriers to shelter in emergencies and after disasters. All should make every effort to assure equity in their shelter assistance.
United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN HABITAT) thanked the Special Rapporteur for highlighting the critical importance of security of tenure as 800 million people globally lived in informal settlements, where insecurity of tenure and extreme poverty went hand-in-hand. There were many types of tenure, particularly in urban areas, and UN HABITAT was championing work to identify those forms, particularly in urban areas. Security of tenure in situations of disasters and armed conflict was another important issue and addressing this issue prior to disaster contributed to both disaster preparedness and resilience.
Libya said that measures must be taken today to ensure the enjoyment of the right to food, which was the most fundamental right. This needed to be done through international organizations and development assistance. The number of natural disasters was on the increase, impacting middle classes and their enjoyment of the right to food. Libya reaffirmed the importance of the Rio+ 20 Conference. It was crucial to increase food security and to ensure development, in particular, through a green economy.
Conectas Direitos Humanos drew the Council’s attention to abuses which occurred in Brazil during preparations for the World Cup and the Olympics. The realization of those two events could attract significant investment in public infrastructure which would benefit Brazil; in reality, however, there were major problems facing local communities, including forced evictions or the threat of forced evictions of more than 170,000 Brazilians. The Council should call on Brazil to immediately stop forced evictions.
International Federation for Human Rights said that the international community had an important role to play in tackling injustice and human rights violations. Israel was systematically violating the land, planning and housing rights of its Palestinian population, and an international intervention was required to put an end to the situation. The Council should call on Israel to withdraw the discriminatory plans which, among other things, threatened to displace over 70,000 persons living in Bedouin villages and to fully comply with its international obligations.
Centre for Equality Rights in Accommodation said that hundreds were affected by hunger in Canada and there was a serious human rights crisis of hunger and poverty, despite Canada being one of the wealthiest states in the world. Indigenous people suffered from disproportionate levels of diabetes, malnutrition and obesity. The initial response of Canada to the recommendations of the Special Rapporteur had been shocking. Were there any effective remedies for violations of the right to food in Canada?
BADIL Resource Centre for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights noted that the Israeli discriminatory policies against Palestinians and the lack of planning hampered the development of rural and urban Palestinian communities across the territory. Israel had not permitted the establishment of any new Palestinian municipalities since 1967 and often Palestinian communities found themselves with restricted movement and cut off from their natural resources in Israel proper and in the Occupied Territories.
FIAN International said that monitoring mechanisms were needed to collect gender and ethnic disaggregated data. Women must have access to justice to eliminate violations of the right to food, discrimination against women, violence against women and patriarchal conduct. The extension of the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the right to food would be a contribution to the adoption of the Declaration on the Rights of Peasants.
African Technology and Development Link said that people who could not meet their food and shelter needs could not participate effectively in the democratic and development processes. Discrimination against women, particularly in the access to food, occurred where resources were limited, and culture and customs discriminated in favour of men and boys. A global fund, established outside of regular development assistance, was needed to target households.
International Association for Democracy in Africa said the right to food was an inalienable right for all citizens and countries must put in place structures to support this and to provide food security. The right to land was also essential and reform in India had increased agricultural production significantly. Feudal landholdings in Pakistan contributed to the World Bank’s findings that infant mortality was high, as it lacked practices that empowered small farmers, women landowners and landless labourers. It was essential for countries to ensure that legal, constitutional and administrative frameworks did not encourage discrimination between citizens.
OLIVIER DE SCHUTTER, Special Rapporteur on the right to food, said he hoped the Food and Agriculture Organization Council could consider the gender dimension further and hoped his report could shape this in the future. At the next session of the General Assembly, Mr. de Schutter said he would present a report on implementation of the right to food and, meanwhile, his last report to the Human Rights Council would summarize previous work and look at opportunities for the future. Mr. de Schutter said he would also take part in several round tables on the issue of how the right to food was implemented around the world. The Special Rapporteur said he had been working on studies regarding how investment could shape food security, and said that such investment could promote rural development and agriculture. Services that relieved women of the family burden they carried were worthwhile, as was recognition and redistribution of roles. Social protection policies were an example of best practices in this area and had been successful. Precise recommendations for promoting women as farm workers were included in his report in 2010. He said that the continuing work of the Committee on Human Rights established in Canada had perhaps not been successful and more accountability and lower level work was needed.
RAQUEL ROLNIK, Special Rapporteur on adequate housing as a component of the right to an adequate standard of living and on the right to non-discrimination in this context, in her concluding remarks, said she remained optimistic about the implementation by Israel of her recommendations on Palestine and expressed the hope that Israel would engage with the Council in a constructive manner. Ms. Rolnik also said that the voluntary guidelines which had been recently adopted and promoted by the Food and Agriculture Organization were focused on food security and housing in general. On the other hand, her report was much more focused on urban housing for the poor. The Council would be the perfect place to develop guidelines on the security of tenure, specifically, for the urban poor, and to complement the work carried out by the Food and Agriculture Organization and by Mr. de Schutter as part of his mandate. Concerning the possible conflict between private property and the right to housing, Ms. Rolnik stressed that it was important to place all those rights at the same level and to recognize that there was no hierarchy between private property and the right to housing for all. Important steps had been taken in order to promote the right to housing in various parts of the world, such as rent schemes and rent subsidies in many countries, or slum upgrading measures taken in Thailand, Brazil and Colombia.
For use of the information media; not an official record