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HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL HEARS FROM SPECIAL RAPPORTEURS ON RIGHT TO FOOD AND ADEQUATE HOUSING

HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL HEARS FROM SPECIAL RAPPORTEURS ON RIGHT TO FOOD AND ADEQUATE HOUSING
10 March 2014

The Human Rights Council today started a clustered interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the right to food and the Special Rapporteur on adequate housing as a component of the right to an adequate standard of living.

Both Special Rapporteurs made their final presentations to the Council of their tenure, following six years as holders of their respective mandates.
 
Olivier De Schutter, Special Rapporteur on the right to food, presented two reports summarizing findings from his 2013 missions in Malawi and Malaysia.  Malawi, one of the poorest countries in the world, needed greater diversity of agriculture, amongst other measures.  In Malaysia impressive progress in the reduction of poverty had been made in recent decades so the mission therefore took place under particularly good auspices, he said, and outlined three priority areas for the country.  The Special Rapporteur also presented a report drawing conclusions from his six years as mandate holder, in which he said the solution to hunger and malnutrition was no longer increased production of food combined with trade and aid but for the international community to support the ability of each region to feed itself, and to reinvest in local production. 

Raquel Rolnik, Special Rapporteur on adequate housing, said tenure insecurity, which affected millions of people globally, often led to a range of human rights violations, affecting not only the right to adequate housing but related rights such as education, freedom of assembly, health and social security.  The poorest bore the brunt of tenure insecurity.  The Special Rapporteur spoke about a set of 10 short Guiding Principles she had developed on the issue.  On her mission to Indonesia she said the promotion of equality and non-discrimination in access to housing continued to require swift and well-defined action from all levels of Government.  On her visit to the United Kingdom, she said the situation of low-income people, homeless, persons with disabilities and young people was underscored and it was essential to evaluate the impact of welfare reform on the right to adequate housing of these and others persons.

Malaysia, Indonesia and the United Kingdom spoke as concerned countries. The Malawi Human Rights Commission, the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia and the Equality Human Rights Commission, the Scottish Human Rights Commission, and the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission also spoke.
 
In the discussion that ensued, speakers said the eradication of hunger and malnutrition was an achievable goal and required State-driven reform at all levels and an enabling international environment.  Other speakers raised the politicization of access to food and food insecurity.  Overproduction in highly subsidized agricultural sectors had a detrimental effect on agricultural production in developing countries, some speakers warned.  Concerns about vulnerable groups, who faced the highest risk of being deprived of the right to food, such as indigenous communities, refugees and asylum seekers, were also raised. 
 
Speaking on issues related to the right to adequate housing, some speakers asked about guarantees for the right of women to tenure irrespective of their relationship with males or community members.  Security of tenure of land was also raised.  Some speakers found the Guiding Principles extremely practical and welcomed that the report addressed standard of living and non-discrimination issues.  The accountability of business operators must also be ensured in terms of security of tenure. 

Speaking in the clustered interactive dialogue were Ethiopia, on behalf of the African Group, Yemen on behalf of the Arab Group, European Union, Pakistan on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, Costa Rica on behalf of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, Tunisia, Mexico, Argentina, Montenegro, Algeria, Morocco, El Salvador, Uruguay, Paraguay, Thailand, Sudan, Egypt, China, Syria, Cuba, Portugal, Switzerland, Côte d’Ivoire, Sierra Leone, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, South Africa, Brazil, Angola, Costa Rica, Kuwait, Guatemala, Germany, Luxembourg and Holy See.  The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization also took the floor.

United Arab Emirates, China, Republic of Korea, Cambodia and Argentina spoke in right of reply.
 
The Human Rights Council will next meet in public at 9 a.m. on Tuesday, 11 March when it will conclude the clustered interactive dialogue on the right to food and adequate housing.  Consequently, the Council will hold a clustered interactive dialogue with the Independent Experts on the issue of human rights obligations relating to the enjoyment of a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment, and on the effects of foreign debt and other related international financial obligations of States on the full enjoyment of all human rights.

Documentation

The Council has before it the report of the Special Rapporteur on the right to food, Olivier De Schutter titled ‘The transformative potential of the right to food’ (A/HRC/25/57).

The Council has before it an addendum to the report of the Special Rapporteur on the right to food, Olivier De Schutter on his Mission to Malawi (A/HRC/25/57/Add.1).

The Council has before it an addendum to the report of the Special Rapporteur on the right to food, Olivier De Schutter on his Mission to Malaysia (A/HRC/25/57/Add.2).

The Council has before it the report of the Special Rapporteur on adequate housing as a component of the right to an adequate standard of living, and on the right to non-discrimination in this context (A/HRC/25/54).
 
The Council has before it an addendum to the report of the Special Rapporteur on adequate housing as a component of the right to an adequate standard of living, and on the right to non-discrimination in this context on her Mission to Indonesia (A/HRC/25/54/Add.1).
 
The Council has before it an addendum to the report of the Special Rapporteur on adequate housing as a component of the right to an adequate standard of living, and on the right to non-discrimination in this context on her Mission to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (A/HRC/25/54/Add.2).

The Council has before it an addendum to the report of the Special Rapporteur on adequate housing as a component of the right to an adequate standard of living, and on the right to non-discrimination in this context on her Mission to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland containing comments by the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (A/HRC/25/54/Add.4).

Presentations by the Special Rapporteurs on the Right to Food and on the Right to Adequate Housing

OLIVIER DE SCHUTTER, Special Rapporteur on the right to food, said in his last presentation to the Council as holder of this mandate, he was presenting two reports summarizing findings from his 2013 missions in Malawi and Malaysia, and a thematic report drawing conclusions from his six years as mandate holder.  Malawi was one of the poorest countries in the world, ranking one hundred and seventieth of 186 surveyed countries in the 2013 Human Development Index.  Levels of malnutrition were alarmingly high and almost half of all children under the age of five showed signs of chronic malnutrition.  Its demographic growth was one of the strongest of the world and as a result, the pressure on Malawi’s natural resources was extreme.  Malawi needed greater diversity of agriculture and its farming programmes were in urgent need of reform.  The adoption of a Framework Law on the Right to Food would be very beneficial to it, strengthening accountability and institutional oversight of food and nutrition security programmes.  In Malaysia, impressive progress in the reduction of poverty had been made in recent decades so the mission therefore took place under particularly good auspices.  The Special Rapporteur highlighted three priority areas: the development of a comprehensive social safety net, strengthening of the land rights of indigenous peoples and regularization of the millions of undocumented foreign workers.

The Special Rapporteur recalled his appointment in March 2008, at the height of the global food price crisis, and his first initiative to call for a Special Session of the Council to address as an emergency the massive threat to a social right, the right to food, that resulted from irrational markets, driven by speculation and largely manufactured fears about levels of stock.  The Council had sent a message that hunger and malnutrition could be tackled, but that doing so required political will.  The paradigm through which hunger and malnutrition was addressed had changed dramatically.  The solution was no longer increased production of food combined with trade and aid to channel food from food-surplus regions to food-deficit regions.  Consensus was now that the international community must support the ability of each region to feed itself, and to reinvest in local production.  An urgent priority was better aligned trade policies on the new food security agenda.  Food sovereignty had never been about autarky.  But it was a call for food systems to be designed in a more open, transparent and inclusive way.  The objectives of food sovereignty were closely aligned with the requirements of the right to food.  

RAQUEL ROLNIK, Special Rapporteur on adequate housing, said she was pleased to present her final thematic report with practical guidance for States and other stakeholders on security of tenure for the urban poor.  Often, tenure insecurity led to a range of human rights violations, affecting not only the right to adequate housing but several other related rights, like education, freedom of assembly, health or social security.  Globally, tenure insecurity was responsible for many millions of people living under a daily threat of eviction, lack of access to services, or in an ambiguous situation where their tenure status became the basis for discrimination, or was used to their detriment by public and private actors.  It was evident that the poorest bore the brunt of tenure insecurity.  The concept of legitimate tenure rights extended beyond mainstream notions of private ownership and included multiple tenure forms deriving from a variety of tenure systems.    

There were concrete policies and practices addressing security of tenure that offered an array of examples and lessons to enhance housing and urban development policies in the years to come.  Working closely with housing public policy and human rights experts, the Special Rapporteur had developed a set of 10 short Guiding Principles, meant as a toolbox to be applied according to specific country contexts.  States had an obligation to ensure that all persons possessed a degree of security of tenure that guaranteed legal protection against all threats.  Concerning a visit to Indonesia, it was noted that the promotion of equality and non-discrimination in access to housing continued to require swift and well-defined action from the Government at all levels.  On a visit to the United Kingdom, the situation of low-income people, the homeless, persons with disabilities and young people was underscored.  It was essential to assess and evaluate the impact that the welfare reform had had on the right to adequate housing of these and other individuals and groups.

Statements by Concerned Countries

Malawi Human Rights Commission thanked the Special Rapporteur on the right to food on his report and the constructive recommendations made therein.  The Commission raised a number of issues which had not been sufficiently covered in the report, such as the lack of transparency in the management of agricultural resources and the national grain reserves, which were particularly relevant given the food insecurity that the people of Malawi faced.  With regard to politicization of access to food, the Commission said there were a number of instances where food had been distributed by politicians and used for political ends.

Malaysia, speaking as a concerned country, thanked the Special Rapporteur on the right to food for his visit to Malaysia and said that the visit had brought to light certain gaps which the Government was committed to improve.  Malaysia was pleased to note that the report acknowledged improvements in both Sabah and Sarawak, particularly in terms of addressing poverty and reducing food insecurity.  The Government reaffirmed that in its efforts to improve the well-being and welfare of indigenous communities, a non-confrontational and persuasive approach would be pursued, especially on sensitive and important issues such as land rights.  Malaysia firmly believed that poverty constituted the biggest stumbling block towards the full enjoyment of all human rights.  Malaysia was fortunate to have benefitted from continuous and consistent implementation of a wide range of policies and programmes in key sectors such as education, health, poverty eradication, housing and agriculture.  Malaysia reaffirmed its commitment to continue ensuring that economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to food for all in Malaysia, could be progressively realised.

Human Rights Commission of Malaysia welcomed the report of Mr. De Schutter.  Access to food was seldom seen as a major concern in Malaysia, given that it was seen as an agriculturally productive country.  However, the Commission was concerned that many failed to realise that other than their availability, the full enjoyment of the right to food was heavily dependent on society’s ability to access those food sources; and underscored the need for the Government to eliminate the persisting pockets of deprivation to ensure all segments of society had adequate physical and financial access to nutritious food.   Urgent priority must therefore be given to vulnerable groups who faced the highest risk of being deprived of the right to food, such as indigenous communities, refugees and asylum seekers.  Serious consideration must be given by policy-makers towards ensuring self-sufficiency for staple foods, sustainability of food production, and social safety nets.  A human rights-based approach to development was instrumental to strike the right balance between development and the fulfilment of human rights principles, leading to greater prosperity.   

Indonesia, speaking as a concerned country, said that it believed that the visit of the Special Rapporteur on adequate housing had provided not only a valuable experience for national stakeholders to engage with the Special Rapporteur and benefit from her expertise and views, but had also been an opportunity to reflect and take stock of progress made.  Given the huge population and spread of its territory, realising the right of adequate housing was a tremendous challenge and shortcomings were acknowledged.  The Special Rapporteur’s report had tried to provide a comprehensive picture of the situation.  What was important was that the report had helped to identify gaps that remained to be addressed by the Government in this field, and recommendations made were appreciated.  With regard to security of tenure of land, the State recognised traditional practices as long as they remained in existence and in line with societal development.

United Kingdom, speaking as a concerned country, recalled that the Government had issued a standing invitation to the Special Procedures and contributed to thematic studies.  Concerning the report of the Special Rapporteur, however, the United Kingdom was concerned that the suggested Guiding Principles did not fully take into account the well-established arrangements that were already in place in the United Kingdom to ensure tenure security.  Therefore while some States may find it useful to consider the Guidelines, the Government had concluded that they were not appropriate in the United Kingdom’s context.  In relation to the mandate holder’s visit to the United Kingdom, from 29 August to 1 September 2013, the Government had expressed strong concerns about inaccuracies in her interim report and, unfortunately, the final report also contained a number of inaccuracies and omissions.  The United Kingdom regretted that the Special Rapporteur’s recommendations did not accurately reflect the situation in the United Kingdom, pointing out the significant progress and notable achievements in the field of housing. 

Equality Human Rights Commission, the Scottish Human Rights Commission, and the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission, in a joint oral statement, acknowledged Ms. Rolnik’s analysis of the impact of austerity measures, in particular, welfare reform, on the right to adequate housing.   The Special Rapporteur also highlighted the need to ensure the availability of appropriate and culturally sensitive accommodation options for Gypsy and Traveller communities across the country.  The report raised concerns regarding the situation in Northern Ireland, where equality and choice in accessing social housing remained constrained by the persistence of community divisions.  The Special Rapporteur’s report was a very timely contribution to addressing the need for a sufficient and adequate supply of housing in times of austerity; and called upon the Government to carry out the assessments, evaluations and recommendations by Ms. Rolnik so that new regulations would not discriminate unlawfully and would protect the right to an adequate standard of living.

Clustered Interactive Dialogue

Ethiopia, speaking on behalf of the African Group, said that ensuring the enjoyment of the right to food remained a challenge everywhere but the eradication of hunger and malnutrition was an achievable goal.  It required State-driven reform at all levels and an enabling international environment in which policies that affected the ability of countries to guarantee the right to food for their people were realigned with the imperative of achieving food security and ensuring adequate nutrition.  Yemen, speaking on behalf of the Arab Group, agreed with the Special Rapporteur on adequate housing that occupation and illegal settlements were an affront to human rights and Israel must put an end to forced evictions and settlements, and the international community should strengthen measures to curb illegal occupation.

European Union asked Ms. Rolnik to provide good practices in guaranteeing the right of women to tenure irrespective of their relationship with males or community members and also about other good examples of plans to ensure that security of tenure was respected.  The European Union then asked Mr. De Schutter to elaborate on how national policies could be shaped to adequately take into account not just the quantity but the quality of food as well.  Pakistan, speaking on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, agreed with the Special Rapporteur that availability, accessibility, adequacy and sustainability were basic requirements for ensuring the right to food, but stressed that the need to prioritize those requirements depended on local and national circumstances.  Turning to the report on adequate housing, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation said that the Guiding Principles to ensure adequate housing for the poor and vulnerable in peri-urban areas were a very important contribution and needed further deliberation.

Costa Rica, speaking on behalf of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, said that the main goal of the action plan approved by the Community was to improve lives of people by eradicating poverty, hunger and malnutrition.  Securing adequate housing for all was a priority and the Community was committed to improving the living conditions of the poorest in urban areas.  Tunisia said that overproduction in highly subsidized agricultural sectors had a detrimental effect on agricultural production in developing countries.  In order to achieve the right of all to food, which was an integral part of human dignity, a reform of global governance was needed. 

Mexico said that ongoing hunger and malnutrition were seen throughout the world, an affront to human rights protection and human dignity.  As the Special Rapporteur pointed out, the fundamental problem was the decisive interference of other factors and dimensions such as access and distribution, among others.   A comprehensive reform of food systems was needed.  Algeria said that the questions of food and sustainable production were complex.  In order to understand the whole food sector and sustainable production, economic and political issues had to be taken into account at the national, regional and international levels.  Pressure on the environment of food production and consumption patterns also needed to be taken into account.  International bodies needed to take measures to increase research analysis and breakdown of existing food systems.  Morocco said on the right to food that it shared most of the conclusions presented in the report.  Morocco’s strategy on programmes implemented by the Ministry of Health to promote healthy nutrition had improved the health of its people.  Measures to improve knowledge of nutrition had been pursued through a campaign of promoting fortified foods and foods rich in micro-nutrients.  Major efforts had been made by the Government to ensure adequate housing for all.  El Salvador believed that the implementation of the right to food was very important.  With the support of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Programme, El Salvador had been implementing programmes to guarantee this right, and part of them included programmes on food security, production centres, and regional seeds for development programmes, among others.  A globalized agricultural system had to be tackled and greater global governance was needed. 

Argentina said that over the past 10 years it had particularly focused on efforts to ensure that all of its population could enjoy economic, social and cultural rights.  It was the State that had to act to fill the gap when there were gaping social inequalities.  Argentina was promoting the development of a comprehensive housing policy to ensure that there was better access to housing.  Montenegro was particularly concerned by the Special Rapporteur’s discussion regarding women’s security of tenure.  States should guarantee the right of women to security of tenure, independent of their relationships with men or other community members.  The risk of tenure insecurity and homelessness was a matter of great importance that could impact other human rights concerns and violations related to women. 

Uruguay thanked the Special Rapporteur on the right to housing for the report, recommendations and guidelines, and agreed on the need for policies at the national and local levels in the context of an appropriate legal framework.  In rural areas, Uruguay counted with several programmes to provide certainty to people willing to build their houses and initiatives attempted to address the needs of vulnerable groups living in informal housing.  Concerning Mr. De Shutter’s report, Uruguay thought that an inter-sectorial approach was necessary and Uruguay regretted that the report’s analysis was not in-depth.  The Food and Agriculture Organization thanked Mr. de Schutter for his report and work and noted the importance of moving forward to assuring the right to food for all.  The Organization believed that the right to food was at the heart of the eradication of huger and all these challenges were interrelated, as reflected in the report of the Special Rapporteur.  The role of the Committee on World Food Security was crucial in coordinating actions, addressing main challenges and foreseeing the realization of the right.  Paraguay thanked the Special Rapporteur on the right to food for his report and, as food producer, Paraguay hoped to be able to create a sustainable trade flow that would contribute to alleviating peoples’ food needs.  Paraguay had decided to implement a national programme for poverty reduction, aimed at increasing the income and access to services for families living in poverty and extreme poverty.  

Thailand believed that the recommendations in the report of the mandate holder on the right to food could contribute a positive normative framework to make progress.  Concerning adequate housing, Thailand found the Guiding Principles extremely practical and welcomed that the report addressed standard of living and non-discrimination issues.  Sudan thanked the mandate holders for their presentations and welcomed the report outlining the challenges facing the right to food and the way ahead.  Sudan had spared no effort to achieve this objective through the profitable use of its immense agricultural and water resources; a number of measures and projects had been implemented, including some concerning water management, and flexible agricultural and investment policies had been implemented, but Sudan continued to suffer the effects from unilateral economic sanctions imposed by the United States.  Egypt saw the report on the right to housing as an important contribution to strengthening security of tenure, for which solutions should recognise the variety of tenure arrangements, the investments required as part of a human right-based approach to housing, and ensuring the accountability of business operators.  Concerning the report of the mandate holder on the right to food, Egypt suggested that a human rights approach to international trade policies concerning food products and associated aspects should be considered. 

China said that the right to food was a basic human right on which all other human rights and fundamental freedoms rested.  Developing countries needed help in producing a sufficient quantity of food and achieving food security for their people.  The issue of housing was a key one impacting human dignity and the challenge was in increasing the housing to meet the needs of middle and low-income families.  Syria outlined challenges it was facing in the absence of an enabling international environment, including the economic sanctions, which impeded efforts to provide assistance, and the activities of armed groups which hindered the Government’s attempts to provide assistance.  Cuba said that the Guiding Principles presented by the Special Rapporteur on adequate housing were highly relevant and paid tribute to the work done by Mr. De Schutter.  Cuba agreed that eradicating hunger and malnutrition was a goal that could be achieved as they were caused by an unequal global order and an unjust division of wealth, in which neoliberal forces prevailed. 
Portugal asked the Special Rapporteur on the right to food about the measures to combat inequalities in the enjoyment of the right to adequate food and concrete suggestions to improve synergies in matters of guaranteeing social protection floors.  Switzerland said that the number of persons having adequate housing had considerably diminished due to the economic and financial crisis and asked the Special Rapporteur to clarify her recommendations to promote cheaper housing through incentives to the private sector and housing subsidies.  Switzerland also asked the Special Rapporteur on the right to food about his recommendations for a greater coherence in the global governance, including in the trade area to bring about positive change.  Côte d’Ivoire said that hunger, famine and malnutrition were growing worldwide, particularly in developing countries, and the Human Rights Council must remain engaged in this issue because of its impact on human rights.  Eradicating hunger and malnutrition was an achievable objective and food sovereignty was a precondition to the enjoyment of the right to food.

Sierra Leone said that in today’s world, no country was immune to some form of food crisis.  Resource management and preparedness remained key elements in addressing these issues.  While economic challenges which countries such as Sierra Leone were undergoing did not always make it possible to assure housing for all, this did not mean that it was not a priority for the Government to assure, to its best capacity, a stable and conducive living environment for its people.  Bangladesh said that it had to be kept in mind that rebuilding local food systems could not be a success if it was not complemented by creating an enabling international environment that would aim at rewarding and supporting domestic efforts towards the realization of the right to food rather than obstructing them.  The report on adequate housing had not addressed tenure security of migrants and persons with disabilities.  Sri Lanka said that it had accomplished much in ensuring food availability to everyone by increasing food production and ensuring equal distribution.  New technology, innovations and research in agriculture had enabled the Government to increase its food production.  Several programmes had been implemented to support low income families in housing, including concessionary schemes and the provision of technical assistance.

South Africa said that it placed equal emphasis on the two core human rights covenants and the inextricability of these two instruments.  South Africa had progressively and exponentially allocated its budget to the realization of economic, social and cultural rights.  On adequate housing, its social housing policy was one way in which rental or cooperative housing could be provided for low income earners.  Brazil said that security of tenure gave people the sense of home, offered them protection from displacement and forced eviction, and facilitated their access to public services.  The lack of security of tenure imposed additional risks on vulnerable groups, especially with regard to human rights violations.  On the right to food, Brazil agreed with the main message that the eradication of hunger was achievable.  Angola said that its Government was developing national programmes focusing on durable production and poverty reduction to guarantee the access to food for all.  On adequate housing, the Government had been focusing on the construction of middle income and social housing as part of its efforts to improve the conditions of the most vulnerable.  To improve the living conditions of the population, the Government was also building various housing projects in the country.

Costa Rica said the Special Rapporteur’s report clearly demonstrated the indivisibility of human rights as the right to food was linked to other rights including development and drinking water.   It beggared belief that one third of food produced was wasted.  Costa Rica raised questions about food sovereignty and the dilemma faced by Governments in either deregulating imports to reduce food costs or protecting local manufactures which led to higher food prices.  Kuwait said housing helped to protect human dignity.  Kuwait welcomed the Guiding Principles of the Special Rapporteur on the right to adequate housing and said its laws guaranteed security of tenure and private property was protected and nobody could be expropriated except in the interest of the general public, in specific cases laid down in law, in which case compensation would be paid.  Guatemala spoke about its Zero Hunger Plan to reduce chronic malnutrition between 2012 and 2015 and related measures it had taken.  The Zero Hunger Plan sought to strengthen the rural farming economy, targeting women as beneficiaries – empowering women was key to eradicating hunger.  Guatemala worked with tenacity and firm intent to achieve its goal of food security. 

Germany said as a co-sponsor of the resolution on the right to adequate housing the security of tenure issue was very relevant as today 860 million people lived in un-serviced and unplanned ‘urban poor’ settlements and were particularly vulnerable to diseases, natural and man-made disasters and high rates of crime.  Germany asked about obstacles to providing services to the urban poor and about culturally appropriate local dispute resolution mechanisms.  Luxembourg said it was convinced of the need to invest in agriculture in developing countries, giving priority to food security with room for biodiversity.  Rural people must be able to meet their own needs.  Luxembourg was committed to the rights of women peasants in Africa who often produced more than 80 per cent of the food but faced wide discrimination in many forms.  Holy See said 840 million people were afflicted by hunger, which manifested in a slow death, particularly for children who failed to meet developmental standards.  Pope Francis said something had to change in themselves and their society to bring down the barriers of individualism, of the slavery of profit at all costs.  Adequate public and private investment was needed to achieve the right to food.  Solidarity at the international level was equally important.  The Council was urged to advocate a way of life that overcame the throwaway culture. 

Burkina Faso thanked the Special Rapporteur on the right to food for his efforts and relevant conclusions, which showed the links between the right to food and the right to development.  In order to combat food insecurity, Burkina Faso had taken some measures in recent years and the right to food remained a priority.  Cereals at special prices had been sold in some regions and to poor families.  The Government had also taken measures to increase agricultural production and a national plan for employment, aiming at combating poverty and promoting development, had also been implemented.  Chile said that the report on the right to food documented the alarming picture of people still suffering from hunger; comprehensive policies at the national level should be put in place, as well as sustainable and fair food systems to ensure access to food for the most vulnerable.  Concerning the right to housing, Chile welcomed the fact that one of the outcomes of the mandate constituted the Guiding Principles to promote measures, aiming to ensure that people could live in a home with safety and dignity.  Venezuela’s Constitution enshrined the right to food and food sovereignty and programmes were available to offer elements of a basic food basket at good prices and without intermediaries.  At the global level policies of solidarity, food aid, debt relief and cooperation for development were necessary to bring food for all.  Venezuela had ensured that access to housing was a priority and measures had been implemented, including large-scale housing initiatives, to ensure decent living for Venezuelan people. 

Bolivia said food security and sovereignty were important to ensure the survival of small-scale food producers, as well as securing quality, healthy and nutritious food for its people.  The rural farming system played a key role in protecting biodiversity, combating climate change and ensuring sustainability and they could make a contribution to the planet as a whole; discrimination against them was simply unacceptable.  France said it made the issue of food security a priority during its presidency of the G20.  Achieving the right to food was an achievable goal.  Could the Special Rapporteur provide concrete examples of interdependent reforms?  France attached importance to the right to housing and reiterated its invitation to the mandate holder on the right to housing.  France would like to know if the Special Rapporteur was planning any missions this year.  Benin congratulated the Special Rapporteur on the right to housing for the quality of her report.  As emphasised by the report, all States had the duty to protect and strengthen forms of tenure.  Benin had been working on housing programmes to provide housing to low-income individuals and it appreciated the recommendations of the Special Rapporteur on the financial services to provide support to such programmes.  Benin called on the Council to take into account the recommendations to allow States to ensure decent housing for their populations.  Benin also called on the Council to make use of the recommendations in the report of the Special Rapporteur on the right to food.

Right of Reply

A number of States exercised their right of reply in connection with the clustered interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteurs on torture and on human rights defenders, which was held this morning.

United Arab Emirates, speaking in a right of reply, said that the United Arab Emirates had answered the notifications by the Special Rapporteur and that the country had always demonstrated a will to cooperate with the human rights system.

China, speaking in a right of reply, rejected the accusations by the Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders and some non-governmental organizations and reiterated the support it provided to civil society.  China stressed that human rights defenders had to respect the law and that the true intention of Cao Shunli, who had been detained in connection with the Universal Periodic Review, had been illegal.

Republic of Korea, speaking in a right of reply, acknowledged the importance of cooperation with civil society nationally and internationally and said that it was promoting human rights in accordance with its national laws and international obligations.  The National Security Act was applied only in conditions when the national security was under threat and its provisions were not in violation of the request for clarity.  Concerning the alleged spy case, the Republic of Korea assured that there were no international humanitarian law violations in the course of legal proceedings.

Cambodia, speaking in a right of reply, said Cambodia was committed to the United Nations Charter and the promotion and protection of human rights and condoned all human rights violations.  However, there were individuals who were using human rights for the sake of their political agendas and the Government had the obligation to protect public law, order and property during the demonstrations. 

Argentina, speaking in a right of reply in response to references by the Special Rapporteur on torture, said there were currently legislative reforms on the prevention of torture to strengthen certain aspects, including meetings between different Government departments.  Argentina also referred to some of the activities undertaken to standardise the conduct of prison staff to prevent and settle situations of conflict.  In 2011 a management unit to promote the comprehensive rights of persons deprived of liberty had been set up and the Ombudsman had also created a monitoring system.  Human rights training for prison staff with an emphasis on the prevention of torture and humane treatment, as well as the State’s obligations in this regard, was being provided.


For use of the information media; not an official record

HRC14/020E