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World leaders warned that the right to food is not negotiable

Former Irish President Mary Robinson is warning world leaders that they have an obligation to tackle the global food crisis now or they will be reneging on commitments to respect the right to food for all.

Mrs Robinson, who is one of the world’s leading advocates on human rights, made the call for action at a joint seminar hosted by Concern Worldwide and ActionAid Ireland in Dublin on Wednesday 9 July. The seminar marked the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Food is a human right

“The food crisis has many causes, most of them long-term and structural but exacerbated by factors beyond our control such as natural disasters. Food is a human right to which every woman, man and child is entitled. Everyone from political and business leaders to the world’s hundreds of millions of small farmers must join together to solve this crisis,” said Mrs Robinson.
 
“Investing more in agricultural production, reducing support for biofuel production that competes with food production and improving our trade and food aid policies to stimulate and support local production are just some of the ways that we can address this problem now. Otherwise the right to food will remain out of the grasp of millions of people for years to come.”
 
Concern Worldwide and ActionAid Ireland, both of whom are engaged in campaigns to eradicate hunger, say the problem will not be solved by quick-fix short-term solutions to provide more food aid. The two organisations say the current food crisis must be used as an opportunity to take long-term political decisions and implement practical policies to vindicate the right to food for all.
 
Tom Arnold, Chief Executive of Concern Worldwide, said, “The governments of developing countries must change their long neglect of their agricultural sectors and put more resources into developing their own food production and their rural enterprises. The world’s richest countries, the G8, meet in Japan this week. They must demonstrate that they understand the gravity of the food crisis by scaling up aid.”
 
“The oil exporting countries, whose income has massively increased because of high oil prices, have a responsibility to increase their aid. Saudi Arabia recently contributed $500 million to the World Food Programme. It is the time for other oil exporters to step up to the plate,” continued Mr. Arnold. 

Women bearing the brunt of the burden

Chris Kinyanjui, ActionAid Regional Director, East and Southern Africa said  “The current food crisis is a man-made calamity that is affecting up to 100 million poor and hungry people right now and women are bearing the brunt of the burden. “

 
“Protection of the right to food has never been more urgent, yet unacceptably the recent Rome High Level Conference failed to win the financial commitments for vital aid to agriculture. The Irish government and Mary Robinson have been leading lights in the struggle to end hunger, but we must work together to deepen our resolve and increase the investment in long term solutions like support for women farmers,” he continued.
 
Both ActionAid and Concern Worldwide are also warning that failing to respect the right of the poor to food will also have a knock-on effect on other basic human rights. The right to education and the right to health could be the start of a potentially serious deterioration in people’s quality of life and a serious erosion of some of their most fundamental and basic human rights. 
 
For further information contact:

Eithne Healy, Communications Manager, Concern Worldwide – 01 417 7794 

Simon Molloy, Head of Fundraising and Communications, ActionAid Ireland – 01 814 7053