Right to food - an introduction

Below are select introductory materials on the right to food.  Further reports from a wide range of sources are in the “Right to food” section of our site.

Key international standards

- Universal Declaration of Human Rights: article 25(1)

- International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights: article 11

- Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights: General Comment No. 12


Key reports & guidance

Human Rights Translated: A Business Reference Guide [PDF], OHCHR, IBLF, UN Global Compact & Castan Centre for Human Rights Law, Monash Univ., Dec 2008 (scroll to page 118: “Right to food”)

Agribusiness & the right to food [PDF], UN Special Rapporteur on right to food, Olivier De Schutter, Dec 2009
[español] La agroindustria y el derecho a la alimentación [PDF], Relator Especial de las Naciones Unidas sobre el derecho a la alimentación Olivier De Schutter, diciembre 2009
[français] Le secteur agroalimentaire et le droit à l’alimentation [PDF], Rapporteur spécial de l'ONU sur le droit à l’alimentation, Olivier De Schutter, décembre 2009

Large-scale land acquisitions and leases: A set of minimum principles and measures to address the human rights challenge[PDF], UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food Olivier De Schutter, Jun 2009
[español] Adquisiciones y arrendamientos de tierra a gran escala: una serie de principios y medidas mínimos para abordar el reto de los derechos humanos [PDF], Relator Especial de las Naciones Unidas sobre el derecho a la alimentación Olivier De Schutter, diciembre 2009
[français] Acquisitions et locations de terres à grande échelle: ensemble de principes minimaux et de mesures pour relever le défi au regard des droits de l’homme [PDF], Rapporteur spécial de l'ONU sur le droit à l’alimentation, Olivier De Schutter, décembre 2009

Foreign Land Deals and Human Rights: Case Studies on Agricultural and Biofuel Investment [PDF] Intl. Human Rights Clinic, Center for Human Rights and Global Justice, New York University School of Law, 2010

Transnational corporations and the right to food [PDF], New York Univ. Law Students for Human Rights, prepared at request of UN Special Rapporteur on right to food, 2009

Report of UN Special Rapporteur on right to food Jean Ziegler [PDF], Aug 2003 (see pp. 11-17 re “Transnational corporations and the right to food”)


Concerns, company responses & non-responses

Below we give examples of concerns regarding companies and the right to food.  In cases where the Resource Centre has invited companies to respond to concerns raised by civil society, we indicate whether the company has responded.

Angola: Report says mining companies' arbitrary seizure & destruction of farmlands causing widespread hunger & deepening poverty, Jul 2008.  Resource Centre sought responses: Endiama and ITM Mining did not respond.

Ethiopia/Kenya: Gibe 3 Dam being financed by ICBC & built by Dongfang Electric will displace hundreds of thousands in Kenya & Ethiopia, threaten them with poverty & hunger, say NGOs – report includes response from ICBC.  Resource Centre sought a response: Dongfang Electric did not respond.

Ghana: NGOs say mining companies have impeded food production, led to serious abuses by the military, May-Jun 2008.  Resource Centre sought responses: AngloGold Ashanti responded; Newmont, Golden Star and Redback Mining did not respond.

International: Berne Declaration report: "Without Map or Compass - Credit Suisse, UBS and Human Rights", Apr 2010.  Resource Centre sought responses: Credit Suisse and UBS responded.

Israel/Occupied Territories: Caterpillar bulldozers used by Israeli army for destroying homes & crop trees, according to report by War on Want & letter from UN Special Rapporteur on right to food, Mar 2005.  Resource Centre sought a response: Caterpillar responded.

Kenya: Villagers allegedly displaced as land in the Tana Delta is turned over to companies for biofuel crops, Jul 2011.  Resource Centre sought a response: G4 Industries responded.

Philippines: Working Group on Mining in the Philippinesreport, “Mining in the Philippines – Mining or Food?”, Feb 2009.  Resource Centre sought responses: AMCOR, BHP Billiton, Freeport-McMoRan, Indophil, Intex Resources, Pelican Resources, Philex Gold, Sagittarius Mines, TVI Pacific, Xstrata responded.

Philippines: NGO urges govt. to revoke license of Intex Resources' nickel mine project due to "infringement" of right to food, Nov 2009, Jan 2010.  Resource Centre sought a response: Intex Resources responded.

Sierra Leone: Study alleges ethanol plantations displace small farmers, leading to “growing food insecurity & hunger”, Jun 2011.  Resource Centre sought a response: Addax Bioenergy responded.

South Africa: Union threatens legal action over Rand Uranium policy restricting workers' access to food & water, Jan 2010.  Resource Centre sought a response: Rand Uranium responded.


Positive steps by companies

[français] Afrique : Nestlé développe sa recherche & sa production agricole en Afrique pour contribuer à la lutte contre la faim et la sous-alimentation, février 2010.

Angola: Chevron signs agreement with USAID to help economic development in Angola by supporting small- & medium-scale farmers, Aug 2009.

[français] Bangladesh : Danone ouvre une micro-usine avec Nobel de la Paix & fondateur de Grameen Bank Muhammad Yunus pour lutter contre la malnutrition & créer des emplois locaux, octobre 2006.

Bangladesh/Indonesia: "Project Laser Beam" aims to combat child malnutrition - partners UN with DSM, Kraft Foods, Unilever, Indonesian food firms, Jun 2011.

India: Govt., UNICEF, NGOs & companies including HDFC, Hindustan Lever, ICICI, Tata Group and Unilever partner to address childhood nutrition, Dec 2007.

International: IBM & researchers launch "supercomputer" to help tackle global hunger, May 2008.

International: PepsiCo, UN World Food Programme announce partnership to enhance food & humanitarian relief delivery to the poor, Jun 2009.

International: Vodafone, World Food Programme & UN Foundation partner to improve communications during humanitarian crises, Feb 2008.

 [français] International: Sodexo récompensé par des ONG pour ses actions dans la lutte contre la malnutrition et la faim, janvier 2011.

Philippines: Kraft Foods, Save the Children partner to help improve health, food security & education of poor children, Jul 2009.

Turkey: World Food Day: FAO awards Turkish dairy firm Sütaş for "Achieving Food Security in Times of Crisis", Oct 2009.

USA: Panera Bread opens "Panera Cares" community kitchens - local initiative to seek to alleviate hunger, Jun 2011.



Lawsuits regarding right to food

Below are some examples of lawsuits against companies raising the issue of the right to food.  Additional materials about lawsuits relating to the right to food may be found on our site by using our Cross-category search and ticking the categories:

  • “Issues>Other>Right to food” and
  • “Law & lawsuits>Lawsuits & regulatory action>Lawsuits & regulatory action: General”.

Complaint filed in Germany against Lahmeyer executives over Sudan dam project's displacement of neighbouring communities from homes, farmlands

Malaysia: Indigenous Penan communities sue Sarawak state government over impacts of logging, plantations on their food sources

Papua New Guinea: Malaysian firm Concord Pacific fined K225 million (US$105 million) for illegal logging, causing destruction of native people’s food sources

So. Africa: Farmers’ union warns Constitutional Court case reviewing environmental laws applicable to mining could affect food security

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Related stories and components

3 February 2012

Mining rights case ‘affects food security’ [So. Africa]

Author: Franny Rabkin, Business Day [So. Africa]

Farmers organisation AgriSA has entered the court dispute between mining company Maccsand and the Western Cape, saying it could affect food security in SA. The case, which will be heard by the Constitutional Court this month, could clarify exactly...

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2 July 2011

Biofuels land grab in Kenya's Tana Delta fuels talk of war

Author: Tracy McVeigh, Guardian [UK]

The eviction of the villagers to make way for a sugar cane plantation is part of a wider land grab going on in Kenya's Tana Delta that is…pushing people off plots they have farmed for generations, stealing their water resources and raising tribal...

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22 June 2011

Asian logging firm fined K225.5m [Papua New Guinea]

Author: Harlyne Joku, Post-Courier [Papua New Guinea]

National Court judge Justice Cathy Davani has ordered a Malaysian logger Concord Pacific Limited to pay a hefty K225.5 million to four tribes in the Western Province for illegal logging, causing massive environmental damage...An elated principal lawyer...

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22 June 2011

Project Laser Beam: Scheme puts the focus on malnutrition in children [Bangladesh]

Author: Alison Maitland, Financial Times

Inspecting contaminated water supplies, meeting impoverished villagers and sweating under mosquito nets in Bangladesh is not normally part of the job description for the head of European communications at a multinational company...Patty O’Hayer wears...

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15 June 2011

[PDF] Study reveals alarming facts about ethanol plantation of Addax Bioenergy in Sierra Leone

Author: Bread for all

The Sierra Leone Network on the Right to Food…published the Independent Study report on the sugarcane-to-ethanol project of the Geneva based firm Addax Bioenergy [part of Addax & Oryx Group]…The researchers found that "many farmers in project...

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12 June 2011

Panera Bread CEO Says Pay What You Can [USA]

Author: Emily Drew, CSRwire Talkback

One in six Americans...is seriously hungry, likely under-nourished or malnourished and doesn’t know when he/she will have their next meal. When Panera Bread Founder and CEO Ronald Shaich learned this, he thought about how Panera Bread opens two...

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26 January 2011
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Author: Sodexo

Le programme STOP Hunger continue à agir au sein des communautés locales. Sodexo a été récompensé pour son engagement de longue date dans la lutte contre la faim à travers le monde par « Bread for the World », une association créée en 1972 aux Etats...

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3 May 2010

German Engineering – regardless of the consequences?

Author: European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights

Lahmeyer International GmbH was instrumental in constructing the Merowe dam in Northern Sudan...[T]wo employees are charged with the flooding of over 30 villages, the displacement of over 4,700 families and the destruction of their livelihood...40,000...

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1 April 2010

[PDF] Without Map or Compass - Credit Suisse, UBS and Human Rights

Author: Andreas Missbach, Berne Declaration

The Berne Declaration investigated the financial connections between the two largest Swiss banks, Credit Suisse and UBS and companies embroiled in serious controversies about human rights such as the right to life, the right to security, the right to...

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15 February 2010
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Author: AWP/ATS (Agence Télégraphique Suisse)

Nestlé développe sa recherche et sa production agricole en Afrique. Le groupe alimentaire vaudois veut contribuer à la lutte contre la faim et la sous-alimentation sur le continent, via son centre de recherche et développement (CRD) basé à Abidjan, en...

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