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TWN Info Service on WTO and Trade Issues (Sept08/15)
30 September 2008
Third World Network

United Nations: Rights Council expresses grave concern over global food crisis
Published in SUNS #6556 dated 26 September 2008

Geneva, 25 Sep (Kanaga Raja) -- The UN Human Rights Council on Wednesday expressed grave concern at the fact that the current world food crisis "still seriously undermines the realization of the right to food for all, and especially for one sixth of the world population, mainly in developing and least developed countries, suffering from hunger, malnutrition and food insecurity."

In a resolution (A/HRC/9/L. 15) on the follow-up to the seventh special session of the Council on the negative impact of the worsening of the world food crisis on the realization of the right to food for all, the Council encouraged States to mainstream the human rights perspective in building and reviewing their national strategies for the realization of the right to adequate food for all.

In another resolution, the Council welcomed the report of the two-member high-level fact-finding mission (led by Archbishop Desmond Tutu, with the other member being Professor Christine Chinkin) to Beit Hanoun, and called upon all concerned parties to ensure the full and immediate implementation of the recommendations contained in the report. It also recommended that the General Assembly consider the report with the participation of the members of the mission.

(The report of the high-level fact-finding mission to Beit Hanoun -- A/HRC/9/26 -- amongst others concluded that in the absence of a well-founded explanation from the Israeli military, there was a possibility that the shelling of Beit Hanoun "constituted a war crime as defined in the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court." -- see SUNS #6552 dated 22 September 2008.)

These two resolutions were among a series of resolutions that was adopted by the Council as it concluded its ninth regular session Wednesday afternoon. It adopted some 24 texts on a wide range of issues, as well as appointing four new "Special Procedures" mandate holders and extending the mandates of seven others.

In its resolution on the follow-up to the seventh special session of the Human Rights Council on the negative impact of the worsening of the world food crisis, adopted without a vote, the Council expressed "grave concern at the fact that the current world food crisis still seriously undermines the realization of the right to food for all, and especially for one sixth of the world population, mainly in developing and least developed countries, suffering from hunger, malnutrition and food insecurity."

It encouraged States to mainstream the human rights perspective in building and reviewing their national strategies for the realization of the right to adequate food for all, which could include, inter alia, the mapping of the food insecure, the adoption of relevant legislation and policies with a right to food framework, the establishment of mechanisms to ensure accountability so that rights-holders are able to claim their right to food, and the establishment of mechanisms and processes which ensure participation of rights-holders, particularly the most vulnerable, in the design and monitoring of such legislation and policies.

The Council also encouraged all States to invest or promote investment in agriculture and rural infrastructure in a manner that empowers the most vulnerable and affected by the current crisis in order to ensure their realization of the right to food.

It called upon States, individually and through international cooperation and assistance, relevant multilateral institutions and other relevant stakeholders, to take all necessary measures to ensure the realization of the right to food as an essential human rights objective, and to consider reviewing any policy or measure that could have a negative impact on the realization of the right to food, particularly the right of everyone to be free from hunger, before instituting such a policy or measure.

The Council stressed that States have a primary obligation to make their best efforts to meet the vital food needs of their own populations, especially of vulnerable groups and households, such as by enhancing programmes to combat mother-child malnutrition, and to increase local production for this purpose, while the international community should provide, through a coordinated response and upon request, support for national and regional efforts by providing the necessary assistance for increasing food production, particularly through agricultural development assistance, the transfer of technology, food crop rehabilitation assistance and food aid, with a special focus on the gender-sensitive dimension.

It encouraged all relevant international organizations and agencies to bring to their studies, research, reports and resolutions on the issue of food security a human rights perspective and the need for the realization of the right to food for all.

The Council requested the Special Rapporteur on the right to food to continue the promotion of the right to food and the follow-up to the current world food crisis in all relevant forums, especially in the framework of the United Nations and all the relevant international organizations and agencies of the United Nations system, in order to contribute to identifying means to implement the right to food.

The Council also requested the Special Rapporteur to report on the implementation of the present resolution to the Council at its twelfth session, including on the progress made and obstacles encountered in relation with the implementation at the national level of the measures and best practices adopted by States to respond to the global food crisis.

The Council also adopted a resolution (A/HRC/9/L. 8) on the follow-up to resolution S-3/1 on the human rights violations emanating from Israeli military incursions in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and the shelling of Beit Hanoun.

The resolution was adopted by a vote of 32 in favour, 9 against, and 5 abstentions. Those voting against the resolution were Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Slovakia, Slovenia and the United Kingdom. Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cameroon, Republic of Korea, Switzerland and Ukraine abstained.

In its resolution, the Council welcomed the report of the high-level fact-finding mission on Beit Hanoun (A/HRC/9/26). It also endorsed the recommendations of the fact-finding mission contained in its report and called upon all concerned parties to ensure their full and immediate implementation.

The Council recommended that the General Assembly consider the report with the participation of the members of the mission. It regretted the delay in the fulfilment of the mission owing to the non-cooperation of Israel, the occupying power.

The Council called upon Israel, the occupying power, to abide by its obligations under international law, international humanitarian law and international human rights law.

It requested the Secretary-General to report to the Council at its next session on the implementation of the recommendations contained in the report of the mission.

Also at the ninth session, the Council appointed four new "Special Procedures" mandate holders: Ms Monorama Biswas (Bangladesh) to the Working Group on People of African Descent; Ms Mirjana Najcevska (Macedonia) to the Working Group on People of African Descent; Mr Olivier de Frouville (France) to the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances; Ms Catarina de Albuquerque (Portugal) as Independent Expert on the issue of human rights obligations related to access to safe drinking water and sanitation.

["Special Procedures" is the general name given to the mechanisms established by the Commission on Human Rights and assumed by the Human Rights Council to address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures are either an individual (called "Special Rapporteur", "Special Representative of the Secretary-General", "Representative of the Secretary-General" or "Independent Expert") or a working group usually composed of five members (one from each region).]

The Council also continued its review, rationalization and improvement of mandates of its Special Procedures, following which it decided to extend the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the adverse effects of the movement and dumping of toxic and dangerous products and wastes on the enjoyment of human rights for a further period of three years.

It renewed the mandate of the Working Group on the right to development until it completed the tasks entrusted to it by the Council, and also renewed the mandate of the high-level task force on the implementation of the right to development.

The Council decided to extend the mandate of the Working Group on People of African Descent, as well as to support Haiti's request to extend the mission of the Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Haiti to September 2010.

The Council further decided to extend by one year the mandate of the Special Procedure on the situation of human rights in Cambodia through the appointment of a Special Rapporteur to carry out the former functions of the Special Representative to the Secretary-General.

It extended the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Sudan until June 2009, and extended the mandate of the Independent Expert on Burundi until the creation of a national and independent human rights commission.

The Council is scheduled to hold its tenth regular session on 2-27 March 2009. The Council will convene a one-day session to commemorate the sixtieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights during the week of 8 December 2008. +

 


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