Taking the right to adequate food seriously: Reflections on the International Agreement on Responsible Investment in Agriculture and Food SystemsPosted: 23 February, 2015
After two years of negotiations the Principles of Responsible Investment in Agriculture and Food Systems (PRIAF) were approved by the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) on October 15, 2014. This has been endorsed by some as a breakthrough for realising the right to adequate food and ensuring food security for all.
Since the 2007/2008 global economic crisis, agricultural investments, particularly large scale investments have flourished across the globe. Africa has become a major destination for large scale agriculture investors largely due to the cheap and fertile land, and poor protection of land rights. The investments are apparatuses of the market led agricultural trade liberalization model claimed to be the panacea for food insecurity in the world by hegemonic industrialized states.
It is evident that some of these investments have utterly affected the right to adequate food in Africa and elsewhere as the investments, for instance, displaced people from their land, or registered futile contribution to food security and nutrition. For this reason some practitioners proposed human rights based regulation of global and national food and nutrition related policies. Nevertheless the investors and host nations defended the investments and denied the adverse effects.
The PRIAF was born out of these competing views on agricultural investments. It brought together major stakeholders to come into consensus on common principles on how to conduct agriculture investments. It is an effort to regulate agriculture investments globally; and to strike a balance between investment promotion and protection of human rights and ensuring sustainable development.
The Ethiopian government often associates its developmental ideology with the East Asian model, while at the same time defining itself as a progressive democratic government. Paradoxically, the government defends itself from prodemocracy critics by arguing that food security comes first, then slowly comes democracy. Within this context, I analyse the right to food as a legal concept and how it can be used as a means to achieve food security in Ethiopia.
Ethiopia has ratified and adopted the main instruments establishing the right to food such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights; the Covenant on the Rights of the Child; the Convention on the Elimination of All forms of Discrimination Against Women; and the African Charter on Peoples’ Rights. Ethiopia is also bound by international humanitarian law, having ratified the Geneva Convention of 1999 and the Additional Protocols thereto of 1977.