PER: Potchefstroomse Elektroniese Regsblad
On-line version ISSN 1727-3781
Various South African government reports list food security as a development priority. Despite this prioritisation and despite the fact that South Africa is currently food self-sufficient, ongoing food shortages remain a daily reality for approximately 35 percent of the South African population. The government's commitment to food security to date of writing this contribution manifests in related policies, strategies, programmes and sectoral legislation with the focus on food production, distribution, safety and assistance. A paradigm shift in the international food security debate was encouraged during 2009, namely to base food security initiatives on the right to sufficient food. During a 2011 visit to South Africa, the Special Rapporteur for the Right to Food of the United Nations, accordingly confirmed that a human rights-based approach to food security is necessary in the South African legal and policy framework in order to address the huge disparities in terms of food security (especially concerning geography, gender and race). A human rights-based approach to food security will add dimensions of dignity, transparency, accountability, participation and empowerment to food security initiatives. The achievement of food security is further seen as the realisation of existing rights, notably the right of access to sufficient food. The right of access to sufficient food, as entrenched in section 27(1)(b) of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996 will accordingly play a central role within a human rights-based approach to food security. Section 27(2) of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996 qualifies section 27(1)(b) by requiring the state to take reasonable legislative and other measures, within its available resources, to achieve the progressive realisation of each of the section 27(1) rights. The South African government's commitment to food security, as already mentioned, currently manifests in related policies, strategies and programmes, which initiatives will qualify as other measures as referred to in section 27(2) mentioned above. This contribution, however, aims to elucidate the constitutional duty to take reasonable legislative measures as required by section 27(2) within the wider context of food security. This contribution is more specifically confined to the ways in which a human rights-based approach to food security can be accommodated in a proposed framework law as a national legislative measures. Several underlying and foundational themes are addressed in this contribution, amongst others: (a) the relationship between food security and the right of access to sufficient food; (b) food security as a developmental goal; and (c) the increasing trend to apply a human rights-based approach to development initiatives in general, but also to food security.
Keywords : food security; the right to have access to sufficient food; framework legislation; human rights-based approach; development.