1211 GENEVA 19


Resolution adopted by consensus by the 96th Inter-Parliamentary Conference
(Beijing, 20 September 1996)

The 96th Inter-Parliamentary Conference,

Recalling Article 25(1) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which states that "Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food...",

Noting with concern that close to 800 million people in developing countries suffer from chronic undernutrition, and almost 200 million children under five from protein and energy deficiencies and that as many as 88 nations fall in the category of low-income food-deficit countries, and also noting with concern that the problem of food shortages has worsened since the 1974 World Food Conference, particularly in recent years, and that no tangible progress has been made in achieving the main goal of that Conference,

Taking note of the recommendations and resolutions adopted by United Nations conferences concerning development and food security, particularly the Programme of Action adopted by the World Food Conference (1992), the Programme of Action adopted by the International Conference on Population and Development (1994) and the principles adopted at the World Summit for Social Development (1995),

Expressing the hope that, at the World Food Summit due to take place in Rome in November 1996, world leaders, addressing the problem of food security at the highest level, will elaborate effective policies and strategies,

Underscoring that the grave situation that has arisen from the drop in world food production, the exhaustion of a great many stocks and the fall in food supplies to a level which is close to being critical for food security, is a threat to all countries and in particular the developing ones,

Stressing the need for a global assessment of food and agricultural problems, in particular in the developing countries, which takes account of the short- and long-term risks of conflict,

Recognizing that food insecurity and poverty are fundamentally interrelated and must be addressed within a broad framework that encompasses social concerns and economic growth,

Also recognizing the negative effects that distortionary agricultural policies have had on agricultural production, investment and trade, and food security,

Convinced that women play a key role, especially in the agricultural sector of the developing countries, and that their empowerment would therefore significantly contribute to improving food security,

Acknowledging the role of trade in promoting economic growth and in providing the wherewithal for poverty alleviation and the capacity to secure food supplies,

Deeming that the persistently difficult economic situation in many countries, especially the unfavourable trends in the food and agricultural sectors, calls for forceful measures at the national and international level with a view to promoting and ensuring economic recovery and development,

Recognizing that stepping up food production, in particular in net food-importing developing countries, improves food self-sufficiency and is therefore very important to the achievement of food security,

Concerned at the persistent difficulties which the majority of developing countries are experiencing owing to a number of insoluble problems such as unfavourable long-term trends in international commodity prices, protectionism, deteriorating terms of trade, the growing debt servicing burden, the imbalance between net transfers of resources to and from developing countries, all of which have had a deleterious effect on international trade and agriculture,

Noting that the Uruguay Round results recognize, in particular in the Marrakesh Ministerial Decision on Least Developed and Net Food-Importing Countries, that, despite the positive impact of economic growth and trade liberalization on overall food security, the reform process could adversely affect some least developed net food-importing countries in the short term, and emphasizing that the phasing-out of the subsidies which the developed countries grant for agricultural products can have grave consequences,

Expressing its concern at the current decline in donations, official development assistance and foreign aid, particularly to the agricultural sectors of the developing countries,

Stressing that the world's current main food and agricultural problems have a number of root causes, including weak overall development, particularly in the agricultural and rural sectors, population growth, inadequate purchasing power, poverty and poor distribution systems, challenges to food supplies from civil strife, harvest failure and other unforeseen occurrences, as well as the absence of a favourable economic climate, all of which are reflected by a lack of food security,

1. Stresses the absolute need to encourage and increase food production in the developing countries, particularly in Africa and in the least developed countries, in order to promote their economic growth and social progress and to contribute actively to solving the problems of hunger and malnutrition;

2. Recommends that the developing countries, in their national efforts, give higher priority to supporting food production and setting up the necessary structures for efficient marketing and distribution, which in turn will create jobs, in order to ensure an adequate food supply and the equitable distribution of foodstuffs;

3. Calls on the developing countries to endeavour to accelerate industrialization and diversify their economic structures with a view to increasing agricultural and food production, stresses in this connection the importance of financing investment in the agricultural sector, an objective which must be included in international co-operation policies and programmes at the bilateral and multilateral levels, and urges governments to participate in the Microcredit Summit to be held in Washington, D.C. in February 1997 where plans for financing agricultural and other development will be considered;

4. Urges the international community to support training in scientific and technological research in the developing countries with a view to promoting sustainable agricultural development in those countries, and stresses the need to strengthen international co-operation for the transfer of environmentally sound agricultural technologies and to facilitate the open exchange of information concerning experiments and technologies relating to the production, processing and storage of foodstuffs;

5. Calls on the members of the international community to restructure the foreign aid and assistance allocated to the developing countries as well as investment in the development of their food production so that they are used for ensuring food supply in the recipient countries, by including food aid in social protection programmes, in order to guarantee that the problem of hunger - an obstacle to overall development is dealt with;

6. Stresses the need to supplement emergency food aid with additional aid for recovery and development with a view to helping the countries affected to rebuild their food-production capacity;

7. Calls on States to ensure that food is distributed to those in need without political interference;

8. Also calls on States to authorize inspection by donor agencies or groups handling food distribution;

9. Calls for the introduction of national policies and programmes that pave the way for environmentally sound agricultural development, rural economic development and sustainable natural resource management with a view to rapidly alleviating poverty in rural areas and the lack of food security, and also calls for a significant increase in the level of public and private investment in agriculture and in particular in food production;

10. Calls on States to propose solutions to the lack of world food security based on the principles of democratization and transparent and accountable governance, peace, sustainable development and respect for human rights, in particular the right to food, and also on the reduction of excessive military expenditure and non-social spending to release resources which can be reallocated to social and economic development;

11. Also calls on all countries, especially the developing ones, to enhance the role of women and strengthen their ability to contribute to and benefit from policies concerning them, primarily in the fields of financing, training and ownership;

12. Urges the developing countries to adopt effective policies to offset the negative effects of food price fluctuations on the international market and the resulting shortages of imported foodstuffs, by constituting reasonable foreign currency reserves and maintaining a certain level of emergency food reserves;

13. Calls on developed countries to take concrete measures in accordance with the undertaking given by ministers at Marrakesh to adopt guidelines to ensure that an increasing proportion of basic foodstuffs is supplied on grant or appropriately concessional terms to least developed net food-importing countries, in line with the Food Aid Convention of 1986;

14. Stresses the need to improve the world economic situation, in particular through debt relief and the encouragement of foreign direct investment, in order to achieve food security in the developing world, particularly at the regional and sub-regional levels, taking account of both the production and distribution of food;

15. Draws attention to the need to pursue and co-ordinate international measures to cope with long-term problems caused by migratory flows and illnesses linked to undernourishment in the developing countries;

16. Stresses the need to step up efforts to achieve the four goals for the alleviation of hunger set out in the Declaration of Cairo adopted by the World Food Council at its 15th session:

(a) Averting the risk of famine-related death;

(b) Considerably reducing the number of cases of malnutrition and mortality among very young children;

(c) Tangibly reducing the number of cases of chronic hunger;

(d) Eliminating malnutrition-related illness;

17. Calls on the developing countries to strengthen their technological co-operation in the fields of food and agriculture in order to solve their food problems, and urges the UN to take on a major role in this field as the body responsible for promoting international co-operation in general and, in particular, technical co-operation between developing countries in the areas of food and agriculture;

18. Endorses the FAO's "Food for All" Campaign as a means to mobilize the whole of civil society in working towards eradicating hunger, raising public awareness of the implications of hunger for development, facilitating dialogue and promoting fund-raising activities;

19. Calls on all nations to honour the spirit of the World Trade Organization (WTO) as regards commitment to the liberalization of markets, in particular by facilitating trade in agricultural commodities with poorer nations, and to establish specific dispensations for developing countries whose agricultural sector plays a key role in the national economy in terms of employment generation and export earnings or whose prospects for viable agricultural production would be endangered;

20. Also calls on States to work towards the conclusion of international agreements specifying criteria for the sector of biotechnology and genetic engineering, and encourages the creation of a body which would represent the interests of countries that have gene resources and would distribute the resulting revenues;

21. Further calls on the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the World Food Programme (WFP) to promote - in their respective areas of competence - national and international measures aimed at stepping up efforts to combat hunger and to take up the challenges that face the developing countries in the area of food production;

22. Endorses the FAO's Special Programme on Food Production in Support of Food Security in Low-income Food-deficit Countries which is based on the philosophy of national responsibility, the preservation of social equity and people's participation, and which focuses mainly on participatory demonstration of enhanced food production technologies, the analysis of production constraints and the development of water management and small-scale irrigation potential;

23. Exhorts all competent bodies within the UN system as well as regional and sub-regional financial institutions to strengthen their co-operation in the fields of food and agricultural development;

24. Urges the Heads of State and Government attending the World Food Summit to adopt practical decisions guaranteeing that all persons and all countries benefit from the strengthening, protection and exercise of the right to food as a fundamental human right, and to give the FAO a mandate to draft - following broad consultations with States, non-governmental organizations, employer and employee trade unions, universities and research centres - an international Code of Conduct ensuring the application of the policies and plans of action adopted at this Summit;

25. Endorses the decision to organize a Parliamentarians' Day on the occasion of the World Food Summit (Rome, 15 November 1996), and urges parliamentarians to respond to the invitation of the Italian Parliament to participate in that event;

26. Calls on the international community to work out, taking account of population growth and the basic needs of the population, a policy and strategies for development in line with the recommendations of Agenda 21 adopted by the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (Rio, June 1992), and with the broad outlines of the Plan of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development (Cairo, September 1994);

27. Stresses that the right to food is one of the basic fundamental human rights, and rejects any use of the food issue by one or more countries or international bodies to exert political and economic pressure on other countries.

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