'Food crisis a rights issue, Govts cannot be passive'
A UN envoy on food has demanded the convening of a special session of the Human Rights Council to consider the issue of "massive violation of right to adequate food" because of soaring prices worldwide and sought a range of measures by countries to address the current crisis.
The newly appointed UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food, Olivier de Schutter, asserted that such a session would allow the members to "speak with one single voice."
"If we had 100 million persons arrested in a dictatorial regime (or) if we had 100 million persons beaten up by police, of course we would be marching on the streets and we'd be convening special sessions of the Human Rights Council," De Schutter said.
"Every single of these 100 million individuals (who are unable to buy food because of high prices) deserves the same degree of attention from the international community as if the person had been arbitrarily arrested or detained for his or her political opinions."
The Special Rapporteur, who took over the role on Friday from his predecessor Jean Ziegler, added that "governments cannot remain passive in the current crisis," and called for a range of measures to tackle the issue.
He said that States should increase their support to humanitarian agencies and provide cash transfers to the neediest segments of populations in food-insecure countries.
In the longer term, he called for greater financial support for small-scale farmers, action to combat climate change, and the phasing out of "market-distorting" agricultural subsidies.