|Sri Lanka co-sponsors draft UN resolution on impact of global food crisis on human rights|
|Thursday, 22 May 2008|
Sri Lanka was one of 34 UN Member states that co-sponsored a draft UN resolution calling upon States to ensure the realization of the right to food as an essential human rights objective, and to consider the review of any policy or measure which could have a negative impact on the realization of that right.
The draft resolution on “The negative impact of the worsening of the world food crisis on the realization of the right to food for all” was tabled before the 7th Special Session of the UN Human Rights Council held in Geneva 22 May 2008. The Special Session was convened as a result of an initiative of several delegations led by the delegation of Cuba to bring into the human rights spotlight the issue of the current global crisis and its impact on the basic human rights to food and freedom from hunger.
The session was also attended by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Ms. Louise Arbour and Mr. Olivier De Schutter, Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food.
In her statement to the Session, Ms. Arbour, while highlighting the negative impacts of the current food crises on human rights, underscored that States, individually and collectively, have a legal obligation under human rights law to remedy such situations and to provide sustainable access to food without discrimination. She also highlighted the need to empower people to secure food for themselves and for their family in a sustainable way. Mr. De Schutter also spoke to the Special Session, highlighting his report on the importance of the right to adequate food as a guide to meeting the urgent need to feed the hungry, international cooperation in the securing of this right, the right as a guide to adoption of medium to long term measures and the institutional implications of the right to adequate food.
Ms. Ruwanthi Ariyaratne, Second Secretary (Commercial), of the Permanent Mission of Sri Lanka, making the intervention for Sri Lanka, highlighted Sri Lanka’s concerns as a small and vulnerable economy on the impact of the global food crisis on the country, and emphasized the need for a concerted international response to address the crisis, which is causing and threatens to cause severe adverse impacts on people’s basic human rights to food and freedom from hunger.
Ms. Ruwanthi Ariyaratne, Second Secretary (Commercial), of the Permanent Mission of Sri Lanka, making the intervention for Sri Lanka at the 7th Special Session of the UN Human Rights Council held in Geneva
Following is the full text of Sri Lanka’s intervention:
Mr. President, Madam High Commissioner,
Sri Lanka welcomes the convening of this Special Session of the Human Rights Council on this critical issue, which is of vital importance to many countries at this crucial juncture when the world is facing a global food crisis of proportions not faced in decades, brought on by escalating food and energy prices, and food shortages. In this regard, Sri Lanka would like to thank Cuba and the Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food for the initiative in requesting this Special Session; we would also like to thank the High Commissioner, the Special Rapporteur and the representative of the Committee for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, for their contributions to this Session. Mr. President, as a Net Food Importing Developing Country, Sri Lanka has grave concerns on the impact of the current global food crisis on its economy and on its people. Sri Lanka is facing the challenges of a conflict that has spanned over two decades, and the prospect of rebuilding and recovering in the future.
With no energy sources of its own, and a small agricultural infrastructure, the pressures that rising prices coupled with equally accelerating fuel prices are placing on our already over-burdened economy are heavy. At the same time, we face the task of ensuring the security of a large percentage of our population who are dependent on agriculture for the livelihoods. The impacts we face are economic and social of a far-reaching nature. As a small and vulnerable economy struggling to face these challenges, Sri Lanka aligns itself with the concerns of all developing countries who are being burdened by the impacts of this crisis.
It is no longer possible to remain defining this crisis in economic terms; we must face the reality that this is now very much a human concern, as more and more people suffer, and continue to suffer, from lack of access to adequate food. In the current environment that continues to stress the importance of human rights, it is ironic that this basic right sometimes appears to be the most neglected of all. For some countries, the crisis is faced with the adjustment of governmental economic and other policies, at an individual level through simple daily changes in their lives, while maintaining the same standard of living they are used to.
For others, the stark and real consequence is hunger without the luxury of alternatives, exacerbated in many cases by the threat to their livelihoods, particularly in agriculture, and the social consequences that ensue: malnutrition, social unrest, deterioration of the health of a population, and the indirect but crucial impacts on other social areas such as education and employment. The global food crisis reflects, and reminds us all, of the truly globalized world we live in. The decisions of individuals, companies and most importantly, of nations in protecting their own interests, have all contributed towards escalating food prices and food shortages, which are now threatening the most basic human rights of all – the right to food and the right to freedom from hunger.
We are now faced with a very serious threat to food security – a security which we have long taken for granted in past prosperity. Environmental causes, market conditions, energy prices – these can be traced back to policy decisions in all areas, whether in the pursuit of aggressive market policies or the safeguarding of national interests and concerns.
Specifically, we must look at and respond to the continued use of such policies as export restrictions, trade-distorting subsidies, and the diversion of food production of essential crops. Sri Lanka therefore, joins other Member states in calling for a concerted international response to this crisis, guided by the obligations of all States to respect the basic human right to adequate food. Such response should be on an individual level, but more especially through international cooperation, through relevant multilateral institutions such as the WTO framework, which itself is at a crossroads in the crucial Doha Development Round negotiations. Such international cooperation is also vital in the form of capacity building and transfer of technology that would provide all means for countries in increasing their food production in order to assure that countries are able to provide adequately for the needs of their people. The international community as a whole must take all measures to ensure the right to food as a vital human rights objective, and to hold this very basic right as a standard against which all policies may be measured.
While short-term responses in the form of food and other economic aid are important, the global response must address the long-term problems of inadequate production of foods, increased demands for food, the need for equitable distribution of food, restrictive policies which contribute to the worsening of this crisis, and those which contribute to environmental problems and degradation which in turn is resulting in physical food shortages. As an important step towards this international response,
Sri Lanka urges the adoption of the resolution before us, and of which Sri Lanka is a co-sponsor.
|Last Updated ( Sunday, 04 January 2009 )|
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