The Struggle for the Right to Food and Nutrition Has No Borders: WhyHunger joins the Global Network on the Right to Food and Nutrition

WhyHunger is a proud, new member of the Global Network for the Right to Food and Nutrition (GNRtFN) and we were present when GNRtFN held its 4th global meeting in Viotá, Colombia. These gatherings are an important element in deepening ties and developing common principles among network members to strengthen the struggle for the right to food globally.

Notably, this meeting took place in the midst of ongoing negotiations in the Columbian Peace Process which, as one of its outcomes, will put measures in place to guarantee the right to food for the Columbian people.  With 23 organizations from 16 different countries represented at the Viotá meeting, the timing of the presence of the network in Columbia underscored that the results of the Columbian Peace Process will reach far beyond its borders, resonating with and amplifying the struggle by all social movements and indigenous peoples around the world for food sovereignty.

The Global Network for the Right to Food and Nutrition was launched in 2013 in Vienna as an outcome of a long journey of peoples, social movements, civil society organizations (CSOs), human rights defenders, experts, academics, and research institutions struggling for the full realization of the human right to adequate food and nutrition (RtAFN).  The Network is an initiative of public interest CSOs and social movements (peasants, fisherfolk, pastoralists, landless people, consumers, urban people living in poverty, agricultural and food workers, women, youth and indigenous peoples) that recognize the need to act jointly for the realization of the RtAFN.

WhyHunger’s theory of change resonates deeply with both the structure, processes and goals of the Network.  As a global network, it is unique in its commitment to providing support to social movements as they interact with and influence the United Nation’s and their own government’s obligations to protect human rights, in particular the right to food and adequate nutrition.  And the Network’s membership is composed of both social movements and CSOs, who share the leadership (CSOs can make up no more than half of the coordinating committee).  Finally, the Network understands that the right to food and nutrition is indivisible from all human rights and people’s sovereignty.  The Network operates within a holistic framework, understanding the ways that food intersects with multiple issues:  land, water, women’s rights, climate justice, peasant’s rights, migration, conflict, race, and more.

The 4th meeting of the GNRtFN ended with a written declaration summarizing the unified commitments of the network members to a global struggle for human rights within the current political and social context. In particular, the members and supporters of the Network pointed with concern to the shrinking commitment by States and institutions to safeguard the right to food, as well as to the increasing corporate power over people’s diets and lives. As false solutions to hunger and malnutrition are on the rise, it is in unity where the strength of the struggle lies. Below are key focus areas that came out of the meeting and are reflected in the declaration.

Rights of People before the Rights of Corporations: Highlighting increasing corporate concentration in the food system and the deepening influence on governments the world over, the network declared that these practices must be monitored and governments must use legal mechanisms to fulfill their human rights obligations, including their obligation to regulate business activities. “We are rights holders, not merely interested parties, and as such we demand an end to the impunity of those who violate human rights. The rights of people should come before the interests of corporations,” reads the declaration.

Hunger and malnutrition, and its root causes, have no borders:  Hunger is not limited geographically but manifests in various forms across the world, including in North America, with “technical” fixes, charity and food aid as predominant solutions.  The Network called for these false solutions to be refuted and the “true” solutions, that include agroecology, and that address the social conditions that determine access to nutritious food, must be scaled out.  They stressed that human rights are interdependent and indivisible and therefore the systemic violation of other rights, such as to land, water and other natural resources and livelihoods, leads inevitably to communities experiencing hunger and malnutrition.

Deep-rooted patriarchy persists: Such indivisibility of rights is particularly relevant when it comes to women and girls. The Network lifted up the obstacles women and girls face in each and every phase of their lives due to the persistence of patriarchal systems. “We are especially concerned that women, who are largely responsible for feeding the world, continue to live with violence, both physical and structural, having their rights continually violated in multiple forms simply because they are females.” Gender equity must be achieved in order for women to fully and authentically participate in inclusive and democratic decision making. 

To learn more visit

Alison Cohen