Misconception #1 about the Right to Food: A Right to Food Implies that the Very Existence of Hunger is a Violation of Human Rights

We hold that the right to food is a human right as intrinsically important as the right to freedom from torture, freedom from slavery, or freedom of expression. Some people hold to a narrow view of human rights as restricted to civil and political rights, but international civil society and more than 120 states recognize the right to food as a human right. As with any human right, the right to food can be violated or breached.

We are not saying, however, that the mere existence of hunger constitutes a violation of human rights. A human rights violation is an act of a government, or of other organized groups, such as national, religious or other organized groups, such as in Bosnia or Sudan. Deprivation– lacking access to food– can have many causes. In some cases a government does its best to keep its obligations, yet people still go hungry due to natural calamities or inadequate resources. Only a clear failure of a government to fulfill its obligations can be termed a breach of the right to food.

Adapted from FIAN 1996, Twelve Misconceptions about the Right to Food as a Human Right. Heidelberg: FIAN International Secretariat.

  • World Hunger Education
    P.O. Box 29015
    Washington, D.C. 20017
  • For the past 40 years, since its founding in 1976, the mission of World Hunger Education Service is to undertake programs, including Hunger Notes, that
    • Educate the general public and target groups about the extent and causes of hunger and malnutrition in the United States and the world
    • Advance comprehension which integrates ethical, religious, social, economic, political, and scientific perspectives on the world food problem
    • Facilitate communication and networking among those who are working for solutions
    • Promote individual and collective commitments to sustainable hunger solutions.