UK Right to Food international commitments

The UK is a signatory to several international agreements that are relevant to our Right to Food.

Of particular relevance are those agreements that enshrine the progressive realisation of the right of everyone to an adequate standard of living, including adequate food. We summarise the main ones below:

Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 25:

Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.

International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Article 11:

The States Parties to the present Covenant recognize the right of everyone to an adequate standard of living for himself and his family, including adequate food, clothing and housing, and to the continuous improvement of living conditions. The States Parties will take appropriate steps to ensure the realization of this right, recognizing to this effect the essential importance of international cooperation based on free consent.

The States Parties to the present Covenant, recognizing the fundamental right of everyone to be free from hunger, shall take, individually and through international cooperation, the measures, including specific programmes, which are needed:

(a) to improve methods of production, conservation and distribution of food by making full use of technical and scientific knowledge, by disseminating knowledge of the principles of nutrition and by developing or reforming agrarian systems in such a way as to achieve the most efficient development and utilization of natural resources;

(b) taking into account the problems of both food-importing and food-exporting countries, to ensure an equitable distribution of world food supplies in relation to need.

International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Article 2:

Each State Party to the present Covenant undertakes to take steps, individually and through international assistance and cooperation, especially economic and technical, to the maximum of its available resources, with a view to achieving progressively the full realization of the rights recognized in the present Covenant by all appropriate means, including particularly the adoption of legislative measures.

The States Parties to the present Covenant undertake to guarantee that the rights enunciated in the present Covenant will be exercised without discrimination of any kind as to race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.

Among others, Articles 55 and 56 of the Charter of the United Nations are relevant.

UN Charter, Article 55

With a view to the creation of conditions of stability and well-being which are necessary for peaceful and friendly relations among nations based on respect for the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples, the United Nations shall promote:

(a) higher standards of living, full employment, and conditions of economic and social progress and development;

(b) solutions of international economic, social, health, and related problems; and international cultural and educational co-operation; and

(c) universal respect for, and observance of, human rights and fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion.

UN Charter, Article 56

All Members pledge themselves to take joint and separate action in  co-operation with the Organization for the achievement of the purposes set forth in Article 55.

Other international instruments, including the Convention of the Rights of the Child and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, the four Geneva Conventions and their two Additional Protocols also contain relevant provisions:

  • Commitments in the Millennium Declaration, including the Milllennium Development Goals
  • The UN Sustainable Development Goals, in particular SDG2: End Hunger
  • Several Resolutions from the United Nations General Assembly and Commission on Human Rights and the General Comments adopted by the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

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