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The South African Human Rights Commission embarked on the Right to Food Campaign between November 2013 and February 2014. The provincial campaigns will culminate into a national conference to be held on Thursday, 20 March 2014 at the Sandton Convention Centre.
The right to food is a human right recognised under national and international law, which protects the right of people to access food and feed themselves, either by producing their food or by purchasing it. The right to food is linked to one’s right to life and dignity and requires that food be available, accessible and adequate for everyone without discrimination.

The right to food means that every home must have access to adequate food at all times. If a home or person does not enjoy this level of access, they are food insecure. Equally important is that the food must be shared within the family in such a way that every member of the household has access to adequate food. To produce their own food, people need seeds, water, skills and other resources. A person might also require access to capital. Under a rights based system such as ours, government must provide an enabling environment in which people can adequately produce or procure food for themselves and their families. In order to purchase food, a person must have access to an income. Part of such an enabling environment, in circumstances of food insecurity is access to social security for those people and families that do not have an income.

In South Africa, everyone should be able, without shame and unreasonable obstacles, to participate in everyday activities. This means that, amongst other things, they should be able to enjoy access to their basic needs in a dignified manner.  There is no need more fundamental to living a dignified life than the right to food.
The South African Human Rights Commission (the Commission) is a constitutional body governed by Section 184 of the Constitution, which clearly underlines the mandate, functions and powers of the Commission.

Section 184 (3) is specific in respect of the Commission’s requirement to monitor and assess economic and social rights (ESR).  In particular, Section 184(3) requires that:

Each year the Human Rights Commission must require relevant organs of state to provide the Commission with information on the measures that they have taken towards the realisation of the rights in the Bill of Rights, concerning housing, health care, food, water, social security, education and the environment.

However, such monitoring and assessment is not only for the purposes of constitutional compliance but also to ensure the advancement of social and economic rights so that the poor and vulnerable in society may enjoy the full benefits of democracy. This will include the specific objectives of:

  1. Determining the extent to which the organs of the state have respected, protected, promoted and fulfilled human rights.
  2. Determining the reasonableness of measures including legislation, by-laws, policies and programmes adopted by organs of the state to ensure the realisation of human rights in the country.
  3. Making recommendations that will ensure the protection, development and attainment of human rights.

1. Concept paper

2. The Right to Food Fact Sheet












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