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[afro-nets] "The Governance of Hunger": three proposals to mobilize the world towards ending hunger in 2025 (open paper)

Almost exactly one year has passed since the High-Level Meeting on Food 
Security for All was held in Madrid in January 2009, when we first put pen to 
paper on the issues of commitment and accountability. Since then, food security 
matters have remained high on the international agenda and have been the focus 
of more meetings, culminating in the Summit on World Food Security in Rome last 
November. Some progress has been made during 2009 on reforming the CFS, the G-8 
(in L´Aquila) has pledged resources to help countries to halve hunger by 2015, 
and countries have started to ratify the Optional Protocol of the ICESCR (30 
countries have already signed the Protocol).

 The Summit, however, provided no evidence of any heightened commitment on the 
part of most governments to truly get to grips with the problems of hunger and 
malnutrition. The world continues to turn a blind eye to the fact that millions 
of people – including up to 3.1 million children – are needlessly dying each 
year because of chronic hunger and malnutrition. The notion that the moment had 
arrived to set a time-bound goal to eradicate hunger, put forward by FAO, was 
shelved before the doors of the Summit opened to Heads of State. The 
Declaration merely reaffirmed the global commitments for halving hunger by 2015 
that governments had already made at the 1996 and 2002 Summits. Sadly, once 
again, goals were not brought down to country level and so no government can be 
held accountable for delivery of its “share” of the global commitment to which 
it had subscribed. Our Globalized World has lost the ambition to set ideal and 
fair goals for the whole humanity, as it happened in different periods of the 
XX century.

 We believe that, even if the new institutional arrangements are to be put in 
place for the governance of food security, there will be little real progress 
towards eradicating hunger and malnutrition unless instruments are created that 
will raise levels of commitments by governments and their accountability for 
delivery against these commitments. This belief led us to draft and put into 
informal circulation a series of papers during 2009. The aim of these papers, 
written at a time of emerging public cynicism about the growing gap between the 
promises that governments make in global events and what they actually do, was 
to explore innovative ways of addressing issues of commitment and 
accountability in relation to hunger eradication and to stimulate debate on the 

 Our first proposal was to set in motion a process aimed at creating a legally 
binding International Convention for the Eradication of Hunger and 
Malnutrition. Our readers told us that this was too ambitious and that it could 
even prove counterproductive, as it would take many years to negotiate during 
which there was a danger that action would be put on hold. This prompted us to 
propose the creation of an International Public Register of Commitment for the 
Eradication of Hunger and Malnutrition by 2025, into which governments could 
unilaterally deposit their Declarations of Commitment and the Action Plans 
through which they would achieve their eradication goal. This mechanism has the 
advantage that it can be put in place without extended negotiation but that it 
will place strong morally binding obligations on participating countries, 
including their agreement to accept international monitoring.

 Thanks to the engagement of several NGOs and CSOs, the proposal for an 
International Public Register has received attention in the ongoing CFS reform 
process and will hopefully be looked at in more detail this year as the 
revamped body examines how it will address the issue of accountability. 

 The underlying reason for the failure of governments to respond seriously to 
the “wake up call” of the 2008-09 food price crisis and to the horrific 
increase in the number of people suffering from hunger that it has induced, is, 
we believe, an extraordinary lack of popular consciousness about the problems 
of hunger and malnutrition, their impact, the solutions and the huge potential 
benefits for humanity that would come from a world free from hunger. This 
observation has led us to propose a Global Campaign aimed at developing a 
strong, well-informed and vocal constituency of support for eradicating hunger 
and malnutrition that will embolden governments to raise their levels of 
commitment and help to hold them accountable for delivery. How to 
operationalise this campaign is the subject of ongoing discussions with NGOs 
and CSOs.

 An opportunity has arisen to publish this material, and so we have revisited 
the papers that we wrote in 2009 and drafted a summary version available from 
us as per addresses above. Its main purpose is to put on record our proposals 
in the hope that they will stimulate further thinking on how to address issues 
that are still far from being resolved.

 We thank all those who have contributed so far to the process set out in the 
draft paper, and we invite further comments and suggestions as well as 
expressions of interest in carrying forward and refining the proposals.

 Hopefully 2010 will be a year in which a record number of people will begin to 
enjoy the freedom of a life without hunger and malnutrition – a year of less 
talk and more action.

José Luis Vivero

Andrew MacMillan

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