Nepal is taking new measures forward to accelerate the progressive the realization of the right to adequate food through concrete actions. These actions build upon previously taken steps which resulted into a strengthened protection framework for this human right, coherent with the decision-making agenda of Nepal of the past 10 years. Specifically, the country is currently drafting right to food bylaws and has formally requested the support of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the World Food Programme (WFP) in order to do advance in this endeavour.
Still, nearly half of all households in Nepal face food insecurity, and a tenth are severely food insecure. “All forms of hunger and malnutrition should end here”, explained Somsak Pipoppinyo, Representative of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) Office in Nepal. “As done for many years, we will continue providing support and facilitating consensus, closely following the guidance of the Right to Food Guidelines”, he added.
Participation of different stakeholders representing the different dimensions of the federal system is crucial. Serena Pepino, FAO policy expert, points out: “The more these consultations on the preliminary drafts can be inclusive and respectful of the different groups, constituencies and political views, the more the process will benefit from a wide range of technical inputs and be truly reflective of the entitlements of everyone. This in turns will mean that these tools will be able to be realistically implemented”. Policy coherence across sectors and that are in tune with policies addressing other human rights should also be taken into consideration, she explained.
Measuring human rights is at the core
As part of the country’s commitment, it has been developing tools to assess, monitor and evaluate the implementation of the human right to adequate food. In other words, interpreting how much has it been or not been achieved, setting up benchmarks, examining trend, highlighting gaps and challenges, and revaluate how to move forward.
In 2017, the government was assisted by FAO in developing the monitoring framework grounded in human rights principles. This framework includes human rights-based indicators that are structural, outcome and principle-based, meaning they address not only the ratification and adoption of legal instruments, but also policies and specific measures taken, the presence of given institutions and bodies with mandates to provide oversight, as well as the outcomes of policy actions. The framework wishes to capture the number and date of entry into force of treaties, while also understanding the budget allocated for programmes on e.g. disaster prevention or the proportion of undernourished population, which can help furthering the progressive realization of the right to food.
A long –standing commitment at national level
The right to food enjoys a broad-based political and legal endorsement in Nepal, and its normative implications go well beyond the international norms.
Firstly, it was guaranteed as a fundamental right in the interim constitution of 2007. Later, for first time in Asia, it was explicitly recognized in the constitution of 2015, in articles 36 and 42. Since then, relevant policy processes improved the respect and fulfilment of this human right, as the Right to Food and Food Sovereignty Act 2018.
The 16 bills, including bill related to the right to food, necessary to ensure the fundamental rights enshrined within the constitution have passed by both the houses of federal parliament, which came to effect after the authentication by the President of Nepal on 18 September 2018.
The country has successfully set up strong legal, policy and monitoring frameworks for the right to food, now it is time to put these into practice and ensure their implementation.
Credit: FAO Office in Nepal.