of Archbishop Francis Chullikatt
Nuncio, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the UN
Second Committee of the 68th Session of the UN General Assembly
Agriculture development, food
security and nutrition
(New York, 29 October 2013)
Food is one of the most basic human
needs. The fundamental right to adequate
food and its importance to human development and flourishing is recognized in
the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and reaffirmed consistently in different
international declarations since then through a number of United Nations
resolutions and reports. Matching the
volume of reports are the numerous commitments to end hunger, commitments from
national governments, international agencies and civil society. Yet in today’s world many nations still face
periodic food crisis. Clearly more needs
to be done.
In this regard, my Delegation
welcomes the Secretary General’s report on Agricultural Development, Food
Security and Nutrition (A/68/311) and its focus on continuing international
efforts to reduce malnutrition and poverty in so many regions of the developing
world. Moreover, the recent note by the Secretary General transmitting the
interim report on the ‘Right to Food’ (A/68/288) has particular relevance.
Hunger, like all forms of poverty,
is caused by exclusion. Consequently, we can only eliminate hunger and food
insecurity by promoting inclusion. Here
we could follow Pope Francis’ simple advice: “Every proposal must involve
everyone” and we must leave “behind the temptations of power, wealth or
self-interest” and instead serve “the human family, especially the needy and
those suffering from hunger and malnutrition.”
In addressing the issue of
agriculture development, food security and nutrition, my Delegation supports
the principle of the human right to food, which requires this issue to be seen
firstly through a human rights lens, which places the human person at the
center of our understanding of this fundamental issue. In our efforts to promote “a life of dignity
for all” we
must work for agriculture policies that promote inclusion, respect for the dignity
and rights of those still on the margins of today’s society, and the well-being
of current and future generations.
By pointing out the problem of
exclusion and the need for inclusion, we bring up the uncomfortable fact that
hunger is not caused by the lack of sufficient food to feed every person on the
planet. As Pope Francis noted: “It is a
well-known fact that current levels of production are sufficient, yet millions
of people are still suffering and dying of starvation. This […] is truly
scandalous. A way has to be found to enable everyone to benefit from the fruits
of the earth, and not simply to close the gap between the affluent and those
who must be satisfied with the crumbs falling from the table, but above all to
satisfy the demands of justice, fairness and respect for every human being.”
While improvements in food
production remains an important goal, food security will be achieved by all
only when we change social structures and when we learn to show greater
solidarity towards the poor and the hungry.
Hunger is not just a technical problem awaiting technological solutions. Hunger is a human problem that demands
solutions based on our common humanity.
The tragedy of hunger amidst plenty
is exacerbated by the excessive waste of economic resources, especially
food. But there is also considerable
waste in the overall system of production and distribution of food. The FAO estimates that 1.3 billion tons of
food is wasted every year. Often this
waste is due to the fact that wasting food can be more profitable than ensuring
that food goes to those in extreme need.
"Whenever food is thrown out,” Pope Francis points out, “it is as if
it were stolen from the table of the poor, from the hungry!"
In promoting a human rights based
and humanitarian approach to food security, it is necessary to link food to
non-discrimination and universal access.
Too often, access to food becomes a weapon for controlling, at times
even subjugating, populations, rather than a tool for building peaceful and
To bring about an effective
distribution of food, the principle of subsidiarity provides helpful
guidance. This principle recommends that
human activities be carried out at the most local and immediate level possible,
so as to maximize participation. Larger
entities have the responsibility to support smaller ones first, and only take
over when these smaller groups are unable to carry out their activities
effectively. Subsidiarity helps sustain food security because food security
consists not solely in giving food to people; it means helping them become
self-sufficient so that they provide their own food, either by growing it
themselves or by exchanging for food the goods and services they provide. Thus, getting people involved in the process
of solving food insecurity is an essential step in achieving this goal.
In conclusion, while there will not
be a one-size-fits-all solution to food insecurity and hunger, there needs to
be the one goal of food security for all so that there
will be ever fewer people suffering from poverty and hunger in our world.
Thank you, Madame Chair.