UN food agency adopts guidelines to slash world hunger in half by 2015

24 November 2004

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), has adopted a set of voluntary guidelines deemed vital to achieving the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) of slashing the number of the world’s hungry in half by 2015.

The guidelines, adopted yesterday by the FAO Council, the Rome-based agency’s executive body, take into account a wide range of important human rights principles, including equality and non-discrimination, inclusion, accountability and the rule of law as well as the principle that all human rights are universal, indivisible and inter-related.

“The guidelines are a human rights-based tool addressed to all states to help implement good practices in food security policies,” FAO Assistant Director-General of the Economic and Social Department Hartwig de Haen said of the battle to halve the number of hungry people worldwide, totalling more than 840 million according to latest agency figures.

“They cover the full range of actions that need to be taken at the national level to construct an enabling environment for people to feed themselves in dignity and to establish appropriate safety nets for those who cannot. This landmark event signifies universal acceptance of what the right to food really means.”

FAO said the guidelines must be implemented to have any hope of reaching the MDG on hunger, one of eight ambitious goals adopted by the UN Millennium Summit of 2000 for halving some of the world’s most significant ills such as poverty and lack of access to health care by 2015.

“Now we face the challenge of putting these guidelines into everyday practice in a way that will bring an end to the injustice of hunger,” FAO Legal Counsel Giuliano Pucci said. “The guidelines provide us with a new instrument to better define the obligation of the state and to address the needs of the hungry and malnourished and we should use them to empower the poor and hungry to claim their rights.”

The Council’s action on the guidelines comes two months after their endorsement by the FAO Committee on World Food Security following 20 months of often difficult but constructive negotiations.