A Case Study in the Right to Food: Honduras

By   May 19, 2015

Arguably, the failure to include the right to food in the human rights review of a country is an important omission which cannot be overlooked.

At international law, there is also the recognition of the right to food, The Universal Declaration of Human Rights recognizes, in the context of an adequate standard of living, that: “Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, …” (art. 25).

The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which is part of the International Bill of Human Rights, recognizes the right to adequate food as an essential part of the right to an adequate standard of living (art. 11 (1)). It also explicitly recognizes “the fundamental right of
everyone to be free from hunger” (art. 11 (2)).

In its interpretation of the right to food the Committee on the Economic, Social and Cultural Rights said the following “The right to adequate food is realized when every man, woman and child, alone or in community with others, has physical and economic access at all times to adequate food or means for its procurement.”

In its report on Honduras, the UPR’s included the focus on the right against impunity and women’s rights, however some groups have argued that the exclusion of various “hotspots” related to the right to food is a major omission given the severe scenario of poverty and repression in Honduras’ rural areas. Honduras’ Bajo Aguan area, where over 120 campesinos were killed in land battles that were continuing since 2010 with regional big landowners, was offered for the urgency of including food and land issues on Honduras’ human rights agenda. “On issues around land, as exemplified from the Bajo Aguan case, the Honduran authorities still responds with the militarization of conflicting areas, the implementation of arbitrary and violent evictions, and the criminalization of peasant leaders and human rights defenders,” Executive Director of FIAN Honduras Ana Maria Pineda Medina said in a statement.

According to Honduras’ UPR Program of civil society organizations, the Honduran state’s self-assessment of the nation’s human rights progress vis-a-vis the 2011 UPR recommendations “lacked coherence and expression of an authentic commitment with human rights.” While state officials reported Honduras complied with 82 percent of the 2011 UPR recommendations, human rights defenders criticized the government’s description of the country’s human rights situation as “much in the reality on the floor,” according to The Human Rights Crisis in Honduras Days before the UPR was set to commence in Geneva, Switzerland, Honduran authorities blocked a Honduran judge from participating, the final setback in an ongoing smear campaign against human rights defenders supporting the review procedure. Of the 152 recommendations to the Honduran state caused by the 2015 human rights review, 59 recommendations covered new issues which were not addressed in the very first review held in 2011, Honduran paper La Prensa reported. The right to the issue of resource as well as food accessibility for small farmers to foster food security in among the poorest countries in Latin America should have already been included among these new topics, says FIAN.

The UPR is a state-driven procedure under the U.N. Human Rights Council. A coalition of some 50 Honduran organizations participate in the UPR process and work to make sure adherence. Human rights violations skyrocketed in Honduras following the 2009 coup against democratically elected President Manuel Zelaya, while prevalent rights abuses and political violence continue in exactly what the ousted president has called a “long-lasting coup regime.”