2016 Food policy Tobacco control Other Health-related issues

Report of the Special Rapporteur on the right to food, par. 98 and 99 (2016)

Text of the recommendation

98. A holistic approach to nutrition requires national policymakers to create an environment conducive to nutritious, healthy diets, including through education, and dietary guidelines. Finally, a comprehensive approach should encourage adjustments in food supply and changes in food systems to increase the availability and accessibility of healthier food that is both sustainable and nutrition sensitive.

99. With a view to respecting, protecting and fulfilling the right to adequate food and nutrition, the Special Rapporteur recommends that: (...)

(a) Member States embrace the United Nations Decade of Action on Nutrition as an opportunity to achieve ambitious nutrition targets and ensuring the right of every individual to adequate food and nutrition, especially the people who most need it. To this end, United Nations agencies and programmes should establish coordinated, effective monitoring and accountability mechanisms to implement the multitude of existing nutrition targets in ways that are coherent, harmonized, mutually reinforcing and overcoming gaps, together with clear timelines, funding and indicators to assess progress;

(b) The Committee on World Food Security, as recommended by the General Assembly, ensure the participation of all partners during the Decade, in particular rights holders and representatives of vulnerable groups. Affirmative measures should be adopted to ensure a “level playing field” allowing civil society to play active roles in discussions and negotiations;

(c) International regulations be implemented to curb the unchecked actions of powerful economic actors that have lately been flooding global markets with junk food. In this regard, negotiations within the Human Rights Council to establish a legally binding instrument to regulate the activities of transnational corporations are greatly welcomed;

(d) The Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights be implemented to ensure corporate responsibility of the food and nutrition industry and enforce the rights of victims to redress human rights violations, including cross-border cases;

(e) Internationally agreed guidelines on how to manage public-private partnership and monitor accountability be established, based on independent assessments of the impact of commercial sector engagement in nutrition;

(f) International trade and investment agreements be re-evaluated to ensure that they do not undermine health and nutrition policies. For example, food taxes, tariffs and other market restrictions or incentives that justifiably form part of national nutrition policies should be exempt from World Trade Organization rules and should not lead to penalties for violating trade agreements;

(g) States be encouraged to use existing tools established by the United Nations, as well as by non-governmental organizations and academic networks, to create a “national master plan for nutrition” with a time frame and budgetary targets specifically tailored to meet domestic needs;

(h) States ensure the political and financial commitments needed to shift from current industrial agricultural systems to nutrition-sensitive agroecology that is healthy for people and sustainable for the planet;

(i) States adopt an initiative similar to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control to regulate the food and beverage industry and protect individuals from the negative health and nutrition effects of highly processed foods;

(j) Recognizing the particular vulnerability of women to malnutrition, the international human rights framework protect women’s right to adequate food and nutrition, beyond pregnancy and breastfeeding;

(k) The empowerment of women be firmly embedded within nutrition strategies, for example by providing paid maternity leave, social recognition of unpaid work, prevention of early and forced marriages and protection of women’s sexual and reproductive rights;

(l) All States incorporate the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes in its entirety into their legal systems and ensure adequate monitoring to ensure implementation;

(m) The Human Rights Council endorse the WHO guidance on ending the inappropriate promotion of foods for infants and young children, presented at the World Health Assembly in May 2016.


Special Rapporteur on the right to food, Interim Report on the right to food, A/71/282, (2016). Par. 98 and 99. Available at: https://undocs.org/A/71/282