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Special rapporteur on right to food: Exclude WFP's humanitarian food aid from WTO's negotiations in Doha Round

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The following statement was issued today by Jean Ziegler, the Special Rapporteur of the Commission on Human Rights on the right to food:
"The World Trade Organization (WTO) is now negotiating the details of the final agreement on agriculture. There have been many suggestions on how to tackle the issue of food aid and some countries want to 'discipline' food aid.

The Special Rapporteur agrees with the suggestions brought forward by European, Asian, African and Latin American parties to drastically reduce government production and export subsidies for agricultural products and thereby limit the harmful consequences of the dumping policies of the North on the developing world.

On the other hand, the humanitarian aid carried forward by UN agencies, and especially by WFP and its NGO partners must be excluded from WTO's discussions.

According to the FAO State of Food Insecurity Report (2004), there are almost 300 million children, more than the population of the United States, who suffer from chronic hunger, and every five seconds a child dies from hunger or hunger-related diseases.

Several suggestions now being discussed at WTO aim to ban immediately and unilaterally all in-kind contributions of food, allowing only cash donations. It is obvious that cash contributions would normally be better but given the dramatic situation of hunger worldwide, these suggestions do not seem realistic. They would require an immediate and massive increase in the funds for development, especially funds for food aid, which seems to be out of the question for the moment.

The general comment 12 to article 11 of the Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights stipulates the international obligations of the States as far as human, economic, social and cultural rights are concerned. This means that an individual State must respect and apply these rights not only as a sovereign entity on its own national territory, but also in its role as a Member State of an international organization such as the WTO.

The respect of the right to food of populations affected by hunger and by chronic and grave malnutrition due to insufficiently developed economic structures, demands the exclusion from the discussion about a WTO agreement on agriculture of food aid given in a humanitarian form through UN agencies and in particular through the WFP".