JuRI-Nepal holds expert consultation to initiate drafting of the framework legislation on the right to food

On 28 February 2014, Justice and Rights Institute (JuRI-Nepal) and Food-First Information and Action Network (FIAN-Nepal) jointly organized roundtable to identify key policy issues for the development of framework law to give effect to the right to adequate food in Nepal. Around 30 experts representing the Government (both Executive and Judiciary), Nepal Bar Association, National Human Rights Commission and I/NGOs took part in the consultation.

The consultation offered an interactive platform for the experts and stakeholders to discuss existing legal gaps and challenges in relation to the implementation of the right to food guaranteed by the Interim Constitution of Nepal 2063 (2007) and International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights which Nepal is party to. The experts particularly pointed out the need to have conceptual clarity in relation to food security, food sovereignty and the right to food before drafting a framework law. They also flagged that the right to food is an inclusive right and demands a multi-sectoral approach, in order to be effective, ranging from production to storage and distribution with rights-based approach in pivot.

The participants also emphasized on the need to have reform in agriculture and land as well as taking into consideration the implication of trade and market in the context of WTO regime, whereas employment and income generation are another key factors to enjoy the right to adequate food that figured prominent in the discussion.

The participants also suggested an option of initiating a private bill if there is a lack of political will or deficit towards enacting such law. Meanwhile, Ramesh Dhakal, Joint Secretary of the Office of the Prime Minister & Council of Ministers stated that the Government would welcome the civil society draft legislation.

Earlier advocate Raju Prasad Chapagai, Madhav Kumar Basnet and Dip Magar, on behalf of JuRI-Nepal gave brief presentations regarding the existing constitutional and legislative scenario, Supreme Court jurisprudence and contemporary international experiences in legislating the right to food in the national context.

Indicating the way forward, JuRI-Nepal chairperson Raju Prasad Chapagai stated that JuRI and FIAN would work on the draft legislation and ensure broader consultation before finalizing it to submit to the Government.
Dr. Sarbaraj Khadka, chair of the programme, noted the importance of such consultation and appreciated the experts’ for their views and opinions.