The challenges to human rights posed by threats to food security in the Pacific Islands

Sue Farran

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

International treaties impose a comprehensive range of obligations on states parties and raise the expectations of citizens. Most states, however, cannot give equal effect to all their international obligations, so a hierarchy or preferential ranking emerges. Inevitably there is an uneven playing field. Although increasingly the United Nations has recognised the particular needs of small island developing states (SIDS) and least developed countries (LDCs), as well as the rights of Indigenous peoples, the right to development gives rise to tensions which may undermine or threaten certain other fundamental rights. Determining the pace and form of development is rarely within the sole control of those states which wield the least power in the international arena despite their constitutional sovereignty. This note is concerned with the most basic of human needs, access to food and the question of food security, providing an overview of a number of issues which have an actual or potential impact on food security in Pacific island states. While food poverty is not absent in developed economies, in many developing countries, food security either is, or is becoming, a key issue for a number of reasons including: the impact of climate change and the related experience of more extreme weather patterns; dependency on imported food and consequential health and nutrition problems; changing patterns of agriculture to meet development agendas; and the introduction of new intellectual property laws as a result of trade agreements, which have the potential to impact on traditional ways of sharing and exchanging food resources. The island countries of the Pacific region experience these aspects of food security in different ways, but increasingly few are escaping the consequences of one or more of these issues. This note argues for a holistic appreciation of the threats to food security in the region and suggests that answers should be informed by a human rights approach.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)153-173
JournalThe New Zealand Yearbook of International Law
Volume12
Publication statusPublished - 2014

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