Wednesday marks the 60th anniversary of the UN
Universal Declaration of Human Rights (HDR). In 1948, the general assembly
adopted the document that says the recognition of the inherent dignity, and the
equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family, is the
foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world.
group ActionAid is using the occasion to warn the current food and
financial crises are threatening people's right to food. Brendan O'Donnell is
ActionAid's international head of campaigns. From London, he told VOA English
to Africa Service reporter Joe De Capua that the crises have wiped out 20 years
of progress in reducing hunger.
main concern is that there are now 963 million people living in hunger. That's
almost a billion people and they're the worst figures for about 20 years. Our
concern on this date, the 60th anniversary of the Universal
declaration of Human Rights, is that food is a fundamental human right. It's
enshrined in the HDR and in all the covenants agreements that came with it. And
yet it's really a neglected human right," he says.
this year, the food crisis held the world's attention, but now the world is in
the grip of a financial crisis. " O'Donnell says, "The recent food crisis and
financial crisis have made things worse. But the bigger picture really is that
this is a permanent crisis. The year before this year there were 854 million
people in hunger. The crisis situation has just made a very bad situation even
whether the current financial turmoil will make the problem worse by reducing
donor aid, he says, "Well, this really isn't the time to bail out on our
commitment to the poorest and most vulnerable people. We know that about 90
times as much has been spent on economic bailouts than has been than has been
pledged to fight global poverty this year. We think this is time for donors,
but also poor country governments, really to commit, honor their commitments,
on fighting hunger."
this year, a UN-led food crisis summit was held in Rome. He says, "$22 billion
was pledged only just in June…to fight the food crisis. And only 10 percent of
that has actually been delivered so far. So, the first step is really for
governments to implement the programs and the pledges that they have already
made. And we want to see the aid that is available going into social protection
schemes that enable people to get food immediately."
says however, that long term investment is needed in the small-scale farmer,
especially women farmers in developing countries. "They form the backbone of
food security in those countries. If we invest in those women, they feed their
communities. They feed their countries and they can really create food
O'Donnell says the fundamental right
to food enables all the other human rights.