UN expert to address Scotland right to food event

Michael Fakhri, the UN’s special rapporteur on right to food, is to speak at an event focused on human rights in Scotland’s food system.

Mr Fakhri is an independent expert appointed by the UN’s Human Rights Council to examine and report on how the human right to food is being realised in different countries.

The event, entitled COVID-19 and the Right to Food Gap in Scotland, will be co-hosted by the Scottish Food Coalition and the Human Rights Consortium Scotland.

Mr Fakhri is expected to address the important role the right to food must have in rebuilding society after the COVID-19 outbreak.

The co-hosts of the event have emphasised that the current health crisis has exacerbated the problems in Scotland’s food system but long-standing failures of food policy will be most effectively and equitably addressed when the right to food is incorporated into Scots law.

Mr Fakhri said: “Scotland can be a leader on the right to food. The COVID-19 outbreak has exposed the vulnerabilities in the food system and as such, there has scarcely been a more important time to discuss the right to food.

“Scotland undoubtedly faces challenges in realising this right for all of its citizens: high levels of food insecurity and diet related illnesses, unsustainable working conditions across the food sector and land access issues which foster inequality.

“The Scottish Government has made progress but advancing the right to food must be a cornerstone of systemic reform.

“I am thoroughly looking forward to discussing the right to food gap and I hope that my participation will bring a focus to food policy in Scotland.”

Mhairi Snowden of the Human Rights Consortium Scotland, added: “COVID-19 has highlighted once again the massive gaps in realisation of the right to food in Scotland. This is the time for Scotland to demonstrate how it is a world leader in human rights by putting the right to food at the heart of food system reform.

“Incorporating our international human right to food into Scots law is vital, ambitious and also, absolutely right, when you consider the impacts of COVID-19. Any good recovery plan must address this most crucial of necessities, a core part of how we fare as a nation - food.”

Pete Ritchie, co-founder of the Scottish Food Coalition, said: “To have the Special Rapporteur speaking at this event presents an important opportunity to highlight the fragility of Scotland’s food system. Mr Fakhri’s expertise will emphasise the critical importance of food system reform to Scotland’s wellbeing.

“The right to food is about more than food insecurity; it’s the right to access nutritious and culturally acceptable food in a dignified way. It’s the right to fair pay and working conditions for those employed across the food system.

“The right to food means building sustainability into the heart of Scotland’s food system for the long term. Our food system impacts a host of different policy issues: health inequalities, poverty, workers’ rights, access to land, animal welfare, biodiversity and climate change.”

He continued: “We need a cross-cutting national food plan to tackle these issues. Our food system is often neglected on the political agenda and yet, it is intrinsic to our country’s collective wellbeing. We can no longer view it in isolation; it impacts all of our lives and our food policy must reflect that fact.

“The Special Rapporteur will illustrate how the right to food can help make Scotland a fairer, greener, healthier and more prosperous nation; it is on the legislators to make this a reality.”

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