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food - The right to food K E Y FAC T S Rome Declaration on...

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Ensuring the right to food involves many factors, from access to land to sufficient opportunities for earning income. The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights,which came into force in 1976, gave national governments the primary responsibility. States’ human rights obligations operate on three levels: Obligations to respect put limits on the exercise of State power.The State must not interfere with individuals livelihoods.If national legislation is found to have such an effect, then immediate action must be taken to correct it. Obligations to protect require regula- tions against poor conduct by non-State actors that would hinder people from acquiring adequate, safe food. These regu- lations cover food hygiene, quality and labelling standards, labour conditions and land tenure. Regulations must also protect against unfair market practices, such as withholding price information or creating monopolies. Obligations to fulfil require action by the State to identify vulnerable groups and to design policies that improve their access to food-producing resources or income. As a last resort, direct assistance may be needed, to ensure that, at a mini- mum, people do not starve. Historically, development activities have often been based on practical grounds to raise gross domestic product or defuse civil conflict. But a new approach has emerged stressing the importance of basic human rights, referred to as rights-based develop- ment. A rights-based approach to food security holds that people have a fundamental right to be free from hunger. It considers the beneficiaries of development not merely as passive recipients, but as active stakeholders. It also puts the primary responsibility on the State, requiring it to do everything possible to ensure people have physical and economic access at all times to enough nutritious, safe food to lead healthy and active lives. Violations of the right to food include blocking access on the grounds of race, sex, language, age, religion or political belief. In addition, food should not be used to exact political or economic pressure, for instance,
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