16 December 2008

Fulfilling the right to food key to creating stability in Timor-Leste

16/12/2008 DILI UNMIT's Human Rights and Transitional Justice Section today launched the thematic report on the Right to Food in Timor Leste.

The report examines all the various efforts made by the Government of Timor-Leste, members of the international community and civil society to help realize the right to food for all Timorese.

According to the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the right to food is realised when every man, woman and child has the physical and economic access at all times to adequate food or means for its procurement.

According to UNMIT's Human Rights and Transitional Justice Section Chief, Louis Gentile, "When most people think of human rights, they think of civil or political rights. What they don't realise is that the right to food is a basic human right enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and is also one of the key pillars for a sustainable nation.

The right to food in this sense does not mean an entitlement to food- what it means it that every person has the right to have access to the means necessary to provide for themselves and their families."

The report highlights the challenges facing Timor-Leste in its quest to ensure that adequate food is available and accessible and properly utilised by all Timorese citizens. Those challenges are in the areas of infrastructure, pre- and post-harvest handling, transportation, infrastructure to connect villages to local markets, and knowledge on nutrition.

As UN World Food Programme Representative Joan Fleuren explained, "Food security can only be reached when all the three main aspects of food security (availability, accessibility and nutrition) are adequately addressed."

The Special Rapporteur of the UN Human Rights Council on the right to food, Mr De Schutter said of the report:

"I am pleased to note that the Government of Timor-Leste in cooperation with the UN mission decided to devote part of the celebration for the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights to re-affirming their commitment to the realization of the right to food through the launch of this important thematic report."

Mr Gentile also welcomed the recent Government decision to propose an increase in the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries budget for 2009 as well as making food security and rural development national priorities for 2009.

"If effective measures are made to compliment the Government's decisions, this would mean that Timor-Leste will be on its way to fulfilling the Right to Food for all its citizens, particularly for the most vulnerable." For more information contact Rosa Xavier, +670 723 0755


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