The human right to food should be put into law in Scotland, according to the Scottish Human Rights Commission in a report to the Scottish Government released today.
Calling for action to protect people from rising food insecurity and the impacts of Brexit, the report also wants public authorities to address inequalities in people’s access to adequate food.
It explains how international human rights law defines the right to food, and government obligations to ensure that food is accessible, adequate and available to everyone.
The report describes household food insecurity in Scotland as "unacceptably high", with children experiencing food insecurity and going hungry during school holidays, as parents and carers have to rely on emergency food banks. "None of Scotland’s dietary goals are being met, and health inequalities are stark", the Commission states.
Challenges to the supply, affordability and accessibility of food are increasing because of rising economic insecurity, the continued impact of austerity-driven reductions in social security, climate change, and the way that food is produced, distributed and marketed.
Submitted in response to the Government's Good Food Nation consultation, the report echoes recommendations from the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social & Cultural Rights to put in place a national framework law to protect and realise the right to food.
Judith Robertson, chair of the Commission, commented: "International law is clear that governments have obligations to take action to ensure people’s right to food is realised.
"The Scottish Human Rights Commission is calling on the Government to take action to incorporate the right to food into Scotland’s laws as part of its work to make Scotland a Good Food Nation. We want to see the Scottish Government showing human rights leadership in a practical way. Bringing this kind of law into force would respond directly to recommendations from the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social & Cultural Rights.
"We have the opportunity in Scotland to take a rights based approach to the food system as a whole, and to make people’s right to food more meaningful in practice by putting it into law. There is a real urgency to take these progressive steps now."