SCN Working Group on Nutrition, Ethics and Human Rights
held during the ACC/SCN's 28th Session in Nairobi, Kenya, Wednesday
4/Thursday 5 April 2001
Chair: Urban Jonsson, UNICEF
Rapporteurs: Wenche Barth Eide, WANAHR; Uwe Kracht, WANAHR
The Working Group reported back on recommendations made last year, as
To prepare a manual on the interpretation and use of General Comment number
12 on the right to adequate food. The Working Group recommended this manual be
prepared through a task force involving the Office of the High Commissioner for
Human Rights (OHCHR) and the World Alliance for Nutrition as a Human Right (WANAHR).
Follow-up: Three international meetings have been held 1 (Oslo,
Geneva, Bonn) involving members of the Working Group and WANAHR, together with
the OHCHR, where the content and use of General Comment number 12 was discussed.
Electronic communication has been established through e-groups coordinated by
the new International Project on the Right to Food in Development (IPRFD),
involving SCN members and others, to exchange ideas pertaining to the
implementation of the right to food including the use of General Comment number
12 to guide rights-based policies and action. Several countries have announced
interest in organising national seminars, guided by General Comment number 12.
This process will provide substance for a draft manual (or other form of
simplified communication on the General Comment) at the 29th Session.
That the Working Group meeting in 2001 should focus entirely on benchmarks
and indicators for food and nutrition rights programming and monitoring. The
secretariat, assisted by WANAHR and the new International Project on the Right
to Food in Development (IPRFD), should raise funds as needed for the preparation
of background document.
Follow-up: A task force met in Nairobi 29 March-1 April 2 to
review a draft paper prepared by the UNICEF regional office for Eastern and
Southern Africa, as the only substantive agenda item for this year. The draft
paper was introduced by Urban Jonsson as a good basis for forthcoming work on
indicators and benchmarks.
Keep under continuing review the recommendations made at the 26th Session in
1999, as partly fulfilled, partly needing a longer period of response as well
as, in some cases, further dynamic interaction with stakeholders to be fully
Follow-up: A report on follow-up to these recommendations is available
separately from the Working Group chair.
The Working Group identified these recommendations for SCN action for the
1. The work on appropriate indicators and benchmarks for monitoring the
realisation of the rights to food, health and care to prevent hunger and promote
good nutrition, should be given priority, indeed intensified in the coming year.
The draft paper on indicators should be revised and presented again next year.
This work can be done via e-groups, an inter-sessional meeting at the time of
the WFS plus 5 in November 2001, and specialist consultancies as needed.
Rationale - The call for benchmarks and indicators to be used in human rights
monitoring, advocacy and constructive dialogue with Member States is a standing
concern and challenge of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights,
and has been seen as a major thrust for the SCN's future involvement in
developing rights-based approaches to food and nutrition policies and programmes
since the establishment of this Working Group. There is now an urgent need for
meaningful nutrition relevant indicators for use in country implementation and
national reporting to the relevant UN treaty bodies, as well as in other aspects
of monitoring the realisation of the rights to adequate food, health and care
for preventing hunger and malnutrition and promoting good nutrition.
2. SCN member agencies should engage actively in the work on indicators and
benchmarks from their different perspectives and needs, notably FAO, UNICEF,
WHO, WFP, UNHCR and the World Bank, and others as interested.
Rationale - The SCN has a unique opportunity to combine the experience and
expertise of member agencies in an integrated response to the continuing call
from the human rights bodies of the United Nations, for indicators to improve
national and international monitoring of economic, social and cultural rights in
countries that are States Parties to the international human rights conventions.
Those most relevant to nutrition are CESCR, CEDAW, CRC and to some extent CERD 3.
This work should draw upon the interpretations given by the relevant treaty
bodies of the content of these conventions, especially General Comment number 12
on the right to food and General Comment number 14 on the right to health ,
enhancing thereby the preparation of more easily accessible versions of these
Comments for advocacy and programming, as recommended by the Working Group last
3. Interested bilateral agencies and NGOs should join in this work and be
open to financially supporting inter-sessional activities as needed.
Rationale - The task to develop rights-based indicators must be approached
through a variety of means, and mobilised from within the wider SCN community.
4. The WG should provide to the SCN at its 29th Session a revised paper on
indicators as well as a review of the status of other rights-related work within
the agencies of relevance to nutrition.
Rationale - While the work with indicators is an important part of
rights-based approaches, it must be seen in the wider context of responses by
single agencies to UN Reform as regards the revitalisation of human rights as a
fundamental principle of all work of the UN system. Thus a state-of-the art
review of the considerable progress with rights-based approaches in single
agencies is warranted in 2002. This review would update one presented to the
25th Session in Oslo in 1998. 4
1 Two International Encounters on the Right to Food and
Nutrition: I. Review and Outlook, 18-21 June 2000 in Oslo, organised by IPRFD an
sponsored by FIAN and Institut Jacques Maritain International; II.
Operationalizing the Right to Food and Nutrition, organised by IPRFD in
cooperation with the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and the ACC/SCN
Working Group on Nutrition, Ethics and Human Rights, 21-22 August 2000 in
Geneva; Third Consultation on the Right to Food of the UN High Commissioner for
Human Rights, hosted by the Federal Governments of Germany, 12-14 March 2001 in
2 Sponsored by UNICEF and IPRFD.
3 Convention on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights,
Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discriminaton Against Women,
Convention on the Rights of the Child, and Convention on the Elimination of all
forms of Racial Discrimination).
4 The promotion and protection of the human right to food
and nutrition by ACC-SCN member agencies: Obligations and opportunities.
Prepared for the Working Group at the 25th SCN Session.