Diouf: It is time to implement the right to food
18 October 2007, New York/Rome – «The world has the means to implement the right to food. The time has come to take action,» declared Dr. Jacques Diouf, Director-General of
FAO, today at the United Nations in New York during ceremonies to mark World Food Day and the launch of the International Year of the Potato.
«For many countries, applying the right to food remains a major challenge. However, it is a realistic objective in the long term,» observed Dr. Diouf.
«The cost of failing to implement the right to food is incalculable,» added FAO’s Director-General, who called for «mechanisms for appeal» to be put in place, for
«a right is not a right if it cannot be claimed.»
This year, the theme chosen for World Food Day (celebrated each year on 16th October, the anniversary of the creation of FAO) is «The Right to Food» highlighting the need to
step up efforts to guarantee an adequate and regular supply of food for every human being in a world where there are still 854 million underfed people.
According to the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the right to food is realized when every man, woman and child, alone or in community with others, has physical
and economic access at all times to adequate food or means for its procurement.
Dr. Diouf paid tribute to Mr. Jean Ziegler, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right to food, «whose studies and reports have generated a number of national processes for the
realization of this right.»
The Director-General of FAO stressed that «guaranteeing each human being an adequate and regular supply of food is not just a moral imperative and a cost-effective investment in economic
terms: it is also a question of realizing a right that is fundamental, universal and inalienable.»
In a message to mark World Food Day, UN Secretary-General Mr. Ban Ki-moon described as «unacceptable» the fact that there are still 854 million people suffering from hunger
«in a world of plenty.»
Stressing that the right to food is enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948, the UN Secretary-General paid tribute to FAO which, he said, had elaborated practical
guidelines that provide coherent policy recommendations on how to «bridge the gap between legal recognition and practice» of this right.
A staple food
Dr. Diouf also stressed the importance of the potato to the world’s agriculture, economy and food security.
The potato is a staple food that has been consumed for more than 7 000 years. It now ranks as the world’s number four food crop. It is the main non-cereal crop, with an annual output of some
315 million tonnes, half of which are harvested in developing countries.
This International Year of the Potato (2008), declared Dr. Diouf, is an excellent occasion to reaffirm the Millennium Development Goals, and especially the one aiming to halve the number of
people suffering from hunger by the year 2015.