On the recommendation of ICESCR and FIAN’s follow up planning
Sept.03, 2008, New Delhi
As a follow up to the observations made by UN Committee on Economic Social and Cultural Rights (UNCESCR) during its 40th session meeting from 28th April to 16th May, 2008, FIAN India organized a national consultation on 3rd September, 2008 at Delhi. The consultation was participated by Flavio Valente, Secretary General-FIAN International, Mr. Sanjay K. Rai, National Coordinator FIAN India, Ms. Sabine Pabst- FIAN international, T. Ravi Kumar-FIAN-Andhra Pradesh, Ms. Suman, FIAN-U.P, Mr. D. Gurusamy, FIAN- Tamil Nadu, Ms. Ujjaini Halim-West Bengal, Dr. Prakash Tyagi, FIAN Rajasthan, Mr. John Bosco, FIAN Karnataka, Mr. Monimoy Sinha from Jharkhand, Mr.Miloon Kothari and Shivani Chaudhary from IHC-HLRN, Adv. Anup Srivastav from HRLN ,Ms. Preeti Darooka from PWESCR and various activists from all over India. The deliberations of the day largely debated on the importance of right to food in India.
The first session was chaired by Ms. Suman. She introduced the background of the consultation. While giving the background, she said that it was the result of FIAN’s sustained approach and ground level interventions on bringing together concerned persons from all walks of life. She also mentioned that meeting FIAN held with important person like Ms. Maria Virginia Gomez, Member, UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. The consultation was also contextualized with the work FIAN had taken up with the Members of Parliament in India and abroad. The Chair also gave a contextualized approach to the consultation vis-à-vis the coming together of civil society organizations. She also took the opportunity to share with the participants that most of the recommendation by made by FIAN’s Parallel Report 2008 to ICESCR had been accepted.
At the outset, Mr. Gurusamy extended the welcome note and raised several issues that constituted the core of the consultation meeting. The welcome note talked about the applicability of international law in the Indian context and the need for India to take all such commitments seriously. He also referred to the pro-active directions of the Supreme Court to the Government of India and the consequent failure to give a constitutional validity to rights such as right to food. While concluding the welcome note Mr. Gurusamy re-iterated the need for more follow up actions to get food rights implemented and create necessary redressal mechanisms.
Parallel report to ICESCR: a presentation by Sanjay K Rai
The welcome note was followed by a presentation on the idea and theme of the consultation with reference to the National Process of preparation of the parallel report, FIAN. This presentation was given by Sanjay K. Rai, National Coordinator FIAN. Stating the importance of this Parallel report, Mr. Rai, National Coordinator, FIAN-India said that it was one of the initiatives of FIAN to increase the accountability of the state for full realization of right to food. This was stated against the backdrop of existing facts in India. To quote Rai “80% of the hungry people in the country reside in the rural areas and there is a large landless population with almost 65% of Indians living under Below Poverty Line.” This consultation meeting was organized in the light of the Parallel Report submitted by FIAN to ICESSR draws global attention to the issue of such an extreme destitution of people with sufferers being the women and children. The National coordinator of FIAN outlined the features of Parallel Report in the following lines with reference to ICESCR’s article number 11 which implies three basic obligations towards right to food;
- The obligation to Respect existing access to adequate food requires signatory States not to take any measures that results in preventing this access.
- The obligation to Protect requires measures to be taken by the State to ensure that enterprises or individuals do not deprive individuals of their access to adequate food
- The obligation to fulfill means that the States must pro-actively engage in activities intended to strengthen people’s access to and utilization of resources and means to ensure their livelihood, including food security.
Mr. Rai stated that the report was a strong reminder to the Government of India as it is party to the ICESCR and each member was to respect, protect and fulfill the right to food and feed oneself. He also reiterated that the Right to Food was also enshrined in Article 21 of the Constitution as Right to Life.
Main highlights of the Parallel Report submitted to ICESCR
- Providing clear illustration of the state’s compliance with overall Human Rights obligations.
- Analyzing the Government’s policies towards realization of Right to Food and Feed Oneself.
- Documenting concrete cases of violation of Right to Food and demanding for global attention.
- Increasing general awareness and education about Right to Food
- Developing Network with like-minded civil society organizations, movements, lawyers, state representatives, parliamentarians and other concerned citizens.
- Creating a platform for Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) to raise their voices and influence policy/implementation decisions of the state for full realization of Right to Food and Feed Oneself.
A presentation by Sabine Pabst
Sabine Pabst’s presentation mainly talked on the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural rights and its implication at country level-India. She talked in detail about the Art. 11 of ICESCR (Right of everyone to an adequate standard of living). The presentation question the failure on the part of member Countries of United Nations which have failed to keep the endorsement made in Art. 11. Sabine was of the opinion that Parallel report submitted to UN in the wake of ICESCR’s 4oth Convention came as an important global movement to ask countries to ensure everyone an adequate standard of living. Sabine’s presentation upheld the works of CSOs’ works done in the regard. Sabine also appreciated the ethos of NREGA, RTI etc in India as a strong ground for people’s empowerment. Sabine’s presentation alerted the government and CSOs on the need to work on increasing farmers’ suicide and existing level of poverty in India.
Miloon Kothari: Responding to the presentations made in the first two slots of the consultations, Mr. Miloon Kothari, Former UN Special Rapporteur on Adequate Housing, spoke on the International norms on Economic, Social & Cultural Rights. The Governments/ Countries have its own mechanisms and many means for redressal but it has not been implemented properly, said Kothari. Instead, neo-liberalization economic policies have been largely ignoring main issues such as poverty alleviation take a backseat. He also critiqued the subsequent governments for not taking the issue of solving poverty and apathy to bring out relevant legislation in the country on disaster management and rehabilitation. He lamented on the inability of the vibrant Indian Parliamentarians to voice and produce effective pro-people policies. Though, Miloon also talked about the positive dimensions of Indian civil societies and its presence at the global level. He urged the participants to strengthen the need for associating with international organizations and issues which concerns all of us.
Anup Srivastava, Human Rights Law Network
Anup Srivastava, HRLN, emphasized on the need to compare the rate of malnourishment with acclaimed ‘growth in GDP’. Official data reflects that a growth in GDP but food product yield in India appears to have decreased in the recent years. The main focus of Anup’s paper was the existing gap between what has been claimed officially and the ground reality testified poverty and hunger in the country. He was of the opinion that there was malnourishment in the country and there was a strong continuing challenge in fulfilling the Universal targets such as Millennium Development Goals. Though, Anup expressed the positive aspects of NREGA in India as it could employ rural populace which resulted in the growth of people’s purchasing power. The speaker emphasized on the need for setting up monitoring mechanism on the state projects on people’s rights and food related rights.
The second session was chaired by Dr. Ujjaini Halim. After a tea break the meeting was resumed. The first presentation of this session was presented by Dr. Flavio Valente, Secretary General, FIAN International. Flavio Valente said that protection of Human Rights continues be the strongest tool for securing a secured life with dignity. The question was to see how one can use this tool and understand in correlation with power relations in the society. Flavio also raised questions on the existing abuse of power and which results in the increasing of violence and deprivation in the society. Flavio, therefore, advocated for viewing human rights from a non-charitable approach for its inherent characteristics.
Continuing his presentation, Flavio also emphasized that deprived sections of the society largely did not have the capacity to claim their rights and it was this point of concern on which the civil society and collective movements were supposed to come together. Therefore, one of the ways to sustain such a need was to ensure a stronger monitoring mechanism. The state and international norms and agencies would require affirming each others commitment and good governance. “This would ensure actual monitoring of the actual situations and involvement of the public”, said Flavio. Flavio’s presentation widely dealt with the following main issues and concerns;
- Making a human rights agenda a global agenda.
- People’s organizations to be more open to grass root issues and deprived sections
- Question the state to ensure human rights and correspond to international legal commitments.
- Monitoring by CSOs with the involvement of concerned communities.
- Independent people’s scrutiny
- Development of questionnaire modules for fact-finding and documentation of issues and suggestions from affected people.
- Find out who is at more risk?
- Define Poverty in consonance with the larger norms of and definition of human rights.
- The issues of Human should have right to food as an anchoring point for people’s empowerment.
Comments by Ms. Anke Schuermann
In the third session, Ms. Anke Schuermann, Germa Angro Action, presented her views. At the outset she said, “advocacy is the need of the hour”. Her presentation remained focused around this dictum which she said at the outset. Anke voiced her discomfort with the projection of a highly developed image of India worldwide which has in turn negated the crucial issues confronting the people in the country. She also said this overdriving claim of India had affected India’s possibility of getting more supports from various donor countries.
Anke also shared her experience in Orissa and said that women and children were in worst destitution suffering from anemia, malnutrition and hunger. She also shared about the work with which she woks. She shared her experience in Jharkhand and the undergoing projects in Jharkhand through which children and people living with hunger had been benefited. The overall objective of the project has been to conduct a hunger mapping exercise, meetings and discussions on nutrition security and deal with prevalence of underweight children and child mortality, said Anke. The presentation of Anke could throw up the importance of food security issues and a need for global intervention on ensuring rights of people from a holistic perspective. The presentation also hinted to the need for linking food insecurity and underdevelopment with the existing economic polices and trends in the world.
The following presentation was made by Preeti Dwarooka, PWESCR. Preeti’s presentation was more on the strategic issues; on how to engage with the government and its planners and implementers. Her contextualization of this complexity was done in the wake of difficulties the CSOs face while invoking issues and demands. It has been a difficult task on the part of the activists and advocates of civil rights who work on dalits and other disadvantaged groups to make the governments work and implement what they are ought to, said Preeti. It was against this situation of challenge; the need for a “strategic lobbying” was underscored by Preeti.
Another presentation on the issue of dalit rights was made by Mr. Umakant, NCDHR. Umakant highlighted the issues confronted by dalits and continuing denial of their basic rights. Highlighting the actual situation of dalits in India, he also felt that there was an irony existing as far as International commitments and country situations were concerned. Though, he opined that it was important to uphold the works of UN committee for elimination of discrimination. Talking about a required approach he said “We cannot divide human rights in disconnected forms as all rights are complementary to an overall guaranteeing of peoples’ rights.” Talking about a survey conducted by NCDHR, he further said “We have had prepared 51 questions’ questionnaire in the year 2007 to interview the political leaders in the country. 50 % of the respondents (political leaders) were not in a position to face the existing situation of dalits in the country”. These findings were argued in linkage with the failure on the part of India to make various ‘Economic, Social & Cultural rights’ enforceable in the country. “We, the CSOs, have to work to make the government of India actually implement Economic, Social & Cultural rights of people, mainly the dalits” was the concluding remark made by the speaker.
Speaking in the same session, Ms. Shivani Chaudhary, HLRN, spoke on the works of Human Rights Law Network, (HRLN). She mentioned about report submitted to the government of India on Housing & Land Rights in India. “HRLN has been able garner extensive interest and support through the dissemination this report, said the speaker.
Post-Lunch session: Third Session
Mr. Manimony Sinha, CWSY
Taking off the post-lunch session, Mr. Manimony Sinha, CWSY, spoke on the activities in the state of Jharkhand. He spoke on the works done by his organization on hunger mapping study in Six District of Jharkhand, survey on the situation of RTF and organization of a rally on water Rights. He also said that CWSY has worked with Parliamentarians at central and state level. He suggested for need to make "Concluding Observation of the Committee on Economic, Social & Cultural Rights" document as public document. He said “we should take help of Public Relation Officer / CSOs / Trade Union on common issues and work out on one strong document as an alternative to government document on the same subject.
After the first presentation of the post-lunch session, Ms. Suman, FIAN Uttar Pradesh, spoke on the initiative already taken to as Follow –up of concluding observations at the state and national level. As this session discussed state activities and progresses, Suman talked about the campaigns conducted in UP on the Right to Land for Women campaigns in U.P. The campaign involves meetings with members of judiciary, Parliamentarians, media, academicians, political leaders and social workers. A regular meeting with the local people and their needs constitutes the core of the campaign without which the campaigns would not have been possible, said Suman. Talking about FIAN’s U.P. experience, she mentioned about the recent (February 2008) increase in the minimum wage scale, Rs. 100 per day, in the state of U.P. In addition, the recent move by the state government to ensure land rights for women in the state was also mentioned as one of the achievements made by FIAN and the civil rights groups in the state. A giving a wide ranging perspective, Suman also critiqued the Tehri dam construction and displacement. While concluding, she suggested for making NREGA more effective and accountable.
After Suman’s presentation, Mr. John Bosco, FIAN Karnataka, spoke on activities of FIAN in the state. John call upon the political representatives to be supporting to the right to food issues in the state. He shared with the activities of FIAN and successes generated while forming strong networks with the Parliamentarians, Legislative members, NGOs and lawyers etc.
He also reported of a meeting held on Human Rights involving the above mentioned stakeholders.
Speaking on the same session, Ms. Ujjaini Halim, FIAN-West Bengal, also shared the experiences and activities of FIAN in the state. She mentioned about the work of FIAN on agrarian Reforms & Land Rights focusing on the gaps between policy & implementation. She also talked about the works done on policy analysis based on human rights perspectives. FIAN in West Bengal has been working on awareness generation among local people and ranges of stakeholders. Some of the important activities which were mentioned by Ujjaini were; Hunger Mapping, Community Based Resource Mapping and initiating models of local development projects.
An Open session: Concluding presentations and remarks
The final session witnessed the presentation of various speakers and presentations. The session started with release of a Publication by Tehari Dam Displaced Peoples’ Movement on right to land and water. The document was released by Dr. Flavio Valente. The concluding session largely discussed about the follow up actions and future interventions with necessary suggestions. As the session was open, opinions and suggestions had poured in. Responding to the discussion, Mr. Ashok Kumar Sinha, Patna, suggested that documents and research or even medium of campaigns should be done in local language and the urgency of social intervention should be emphasized. According to Sinha, flood related relief activities should be urgently taken up so that the victims get some immediate support from the non-affected people and government. He suggested for alliance building and pro-active role of the CSOs. In terms of real life issues, he talked about right to food, gender rights, and proper implementation of NREGA and need to bring NREGA to give some relief to rural workforce who is displaced by flood in Bihar.
Another remark was given by Prashant from Orissa. He felt that there was a need for lobbying with the government and coming together of like minded organizations with the involvement of local community members. Mr. Prashant also advocated for media advocacy and simplified learning and education materials for campaigns. To Prashant, there was a need for linking the social actions with NHRC / SHRC / WOMEN & Minorities Commission.
During the open session, activists and victims from Suman Nagar village, a new habitat of Tehari Dam displaced people, spoke about their experiences. The victims narrated that they were living with a serious life time crisis due to eviction, livelihood problems and denial of children’s education. One of the participants from Suman Nagar Govind Dev Joshi acknowledged the work of FIAN in the area. He further narrated how the schools in the area were non-functional and basic food scheme such as Mid-Day Meal programmes were not implemented. This case of Suman Nagar village hints to the many more existing non-functional schools which in turn deprives children’s right to food.
Ms. Neetika Pant, U.P, also raised her concerns and made various suggestions.
She suggested for regular multi-stakeholder meetings including women and minorities. She said that there was a need to share, generate and bring various stakeholders within the fold of right to food campaign from a human rights perspective. She also mentioned about the importance of Justice Sachar Committee. Supplementing the issues raised by Hasarat, Bhopal, said that focus should be given on artisans whose livelihood are also badly affected in the recent years due to neo-liberal policies and calamities.
Continuing the discussion, Mr. Dhruv Kumar, Bahraich, asserted that displacement was a major issue and there was a need for strong strategies and follow up action plans. He further said that it was the time for CSOs to support the government and work together to eradicate poverty and displacement.
The meeting was concluded with the following collective endorsements’
- Right to food as a core condition to peoples’ empowerment
- Human Rights perspective to lead the rights’ campaigns
- Pro-people documentation and campaigns
- Social, Economic and Cultural rights to be ensured by the State
- Alliance building with stakeholders; policy makers, civil rights groups and community
- Creating urgency on the peoples’ empowerment at the global level
- Holding monitoring mechanisms effective all over
Proposals for follow up steps:
- establish national rapporteurship in India (support from OHCHR and Special Raporteur , Ziegler and de Schutter)
FIAN Tamil Nadu
- amendment of HR act
- have translated concluding observations into Tamil
- lobby work with members of legislative assembly (proposal of M. Gomez)/14th Oct. follow up meeting of Gomez programme??
- “Give accounts” Laimpurkeri, planned to be followed up in other areas,
- program with judiciary
- meeting with parliamentary group on human rights
- Teri dam displaced people
- NGO meeting
- Transform concluding observations into popular documents
Nitika Pant (FIAN UP / Women Muslim Organisation)
- multi stakeholder dialogue to overcome implementation gaps (include administrative bodies and others)
- community level awareness “folk medium”
- wider dissemination of Sachar Commission report
- Integrate concluding observations into regular work
- Networking meeting on concluding observations
- State level meeting with human rights bodies
- Approach opposition parties to highlight issues
- Work on cases, stop violations towards redressal of victims- (Threats for HR defenders / SEZ/ displacement)
- translate concluding observations into people’s language
- Rallyes, public hearing
FIAN Karnataka (Bangalore Group)
- Monitoring of Food Schemes (ICDS, PDS, MDMS etc.) in terms of
discrimination in administration and highlighting the cases.
- Legal research (how the law has responded to this at national level)
and identifying the loopholes and recommendations for law reform
- Sensitization of the policy makers around the law and right to food,
right to food for dalits, minorities and children
- Malnourishment among minority children - / employment guarantee and
minorities (Sachar Committee also expressed concern over the rights of
minorities in this regard).
Hasrat, FIAN MP
- audience compatible language
- focus on artisans
- dissemination / translation
- republish parallel report HRLN
- booklet on key issues
- stress on displacement and evictions
- highlight their guidelines on displacement
- synthetize recommendations of different treaty bodies
- mid-term review about implementation of concluding observations
- work more with NHRC, make them to distribute concluding observations
Prashant, Orissa Dalit Forum
- translation of concluding observations into simple language to reach local level
- link up with struggles of Adivasis in Orissa
- take issues to NHRC (state and national level) and to women’s commission and minority commission
- publish and distribute concluding observations and parallel report in local languages
Significance of the CESCR concluding observations and their implementation at national level – An International experience
By: Flavio Luiz Schieck Valente
Secretary General -FIAN International
1. The periodic reporting to the CESCR is one of the obligations of the States that ratified the ICESCR and the resulting observations include suggestions and recommendations that orient the governments towards the effective fulfilment of their obligations and the realization of the ESCR rights.
2. According to the committee's General Comment 1 the periodic monitoring process has at least 7 objectives:
a. to ensure that a comprehensive review is undertaken with respect to national legislation, administrative rules and procedures, and practices in an effort to ensure the fullest possible conformity with the Covenant.
b. to ensure that the State party monitors the actual situation with respect to each of the rights on a regular basis and is thus aware of the extent to which the various rights are, or are not, being enjoyed by all individuals within its territory or under its jurisdiction. From the Committee's experience to date, it is clear that the fulfilment of this objective cannot be achieved only by the preparation of aggregate national statistics or estimates, but also requires that special attention be given to any worse-off regions or areas and to any specific groups or subgroups which appear to be particularly vulnerable or disadvantaged. Thus, the essential first step towards promoting the realization of economic, social and cultural rights is diagnosis and knowledge of the existing situation.
c. to provide the basis for the elaboration of clearly stated and carefully targeted policies, including the establishment of priorities which reflect the provisions of the Covenant.
d. to facilitate public scrutiny of government policies with respect to economic, social and cultural rights and to encourage the involvement of the various economic, social and cultural sectors of society in the formulation, implementation and review of the relevant policies.
e. to provide a basis on which the State party itself, as well as the Committee, can effectively evaluate the extent to which progress has been made towards the realization of the obligations contained in the Covenant. For this purpose, it may be useful for States to identify specific benchmarks or goals against which their performance in a given area can be assessed.
f. to enable the State party itself to develop a better understanding of the problems and shortcomings encountered in efforts to realize progressively the full range of economic, social and cultural rights.
g. to enable the Committee, and the States parties as a whole, to facilitate the exchange of information among States and to develop a better understanding of the common problems faced by States and a fuller appreciation of the type of measures which might be taken to promote effective realization of each of the rights contained in the Covenant.
3. It is important to highlight that the CESCR has clarified the concept of progressive realization of ESCR, in its General comment 3, reaffirming the binding obligation of Governments to take immediate steps towards this realization, as it can be read in paragraphs 9 and 10 of this GC:
9……The concept of progressive realization constitutes a recognition of the fact that full realization of all economic, social and cultural rights will generally not be able to be achieved in a short period of time. … Nevertheless, the fact that realization over time, or in other words progressively, is foreseen under the Covenant should not be misinterpreted as depriving the obligation of all meaningful content. It is on the one hand a necessary flexibility device, reflecting the realities of the real world and the difficulties involved for any country in ensuring full realization of economic, social and cultural rights. On the other hand, the phrase must be read in the light of the overall objective, indeed the raison d'être, of the Covenant which is to establish clear obligations for States parties in respect of the full realization of the rights in question. It thus imposes an obligation to move as expeditiously and effectively as possible towards that goal. Moreover, any deliberately retrogressive measures in that regard would require the most careful consideration and would need to be fully justified by reference to the totality of the rights provided for in the Covenant and in the context of the full use of the maximum available resources.
10. On the basis of the extensive experience gained by the Committee….the Committee is of the view that a minimum core obligation to ensure the satisfaction of, at the very least, minimum essential levels of each of the rights is incumbent upon every State party. Thus, for example, a State party in which any significant number of individuals is deprived of essential foodstuffs, of essential primary health care, of basic shelter and housing, or of the most basic forms of education is, prima facie, failing to discharge its obligations under the Covenant. … By the same token, it must be noted that any assessment as to whether a State has discharged its minimum core obligation must also take account of resource constraints applying within the country concerned. Article 2 (1) obligates each State party to take the necessary steps "to the maximum of its available resources". In order for a State party to be able to attribute its failure to meet at least its minimum core obligations to a lack of available resources it must demonstrate that every effort has been made to use all resources that are at its disposition in an effort to satisfy, as a matter of priority, those minimum obligations.
4. Within this understanding, the recommendations of the committee are expression of the binding obligations of the State parties to the ICESCR, which is the case of India.
Role of civil society
5. The recommendations of the CESCR are a very potent tool to be used in:
a. Empowering communities and groups who have their rights violated, demonstrating that their demands have the support of the UN Human Rights system;
b. Informing the society in general and the public sector, including parliamentarians what must be done by the public authorities/State towards the fulfilment of their obligations under the ICESCR;
c. Providing information to like minded parliamentarians, members of the judiciary and public officers so that they can further their activities and public policy proposals for the realization of the different ESCR, based on the recommendations.
6. There are some demands that can be placed immediately by civil society on the government:
a. The government must broadly publicize the recommendations to all sectors of the society, including the most affected by possible violations, as well as parliamentarians, the media, judicial authorities and public officers at all levels;
b. The government must provide a detailed plan on how it intends to provide a response to each one of the recommendations, including the identification of benchmarks, allocation of funds, and timeline, preferably agreed upon publicly;
c. The federal government should invite civil society and other sectors of society to actively participate in the elaboration of the follow up report.
The Brazilian experience
7. Brazilian civil society has taken a very active role in closely monitoring the Governmental reporting to the CESCR.
8. In the Brazilian case:
a. civil society elaborated a report to the CESCR before the Brazilian Government officially reported. The official report was 7 years delayed and it was the pressure placed by the civil society report that led the government to produce the official one, one year after.
b. The civil society report was produced by a broad coalition of social movements and NGOs and included a series of State level consultations;
c. Civil society also produced a counter report in response to the official report;
d. Civil society was also invited to contribute to the official report, and participated in it, requesting that wherever a conflict of position between the government and civil society was not overcome, the position of civil society should be clearly spelled out in a foot note;
9. Since the first report, the civil society coalition, according to a division of tasks, has continued to:
a. Publicize the recommendations;
b. Monitor policy and program implementation;
c. Document exemplary cases of violation;
d. Lobby for the fulfilment of the recommendations;
e. Maintained the committee informed of the most serious impediments;
10. In parallel, civil society organizations in the coalition, established a commonly agreed timeline in preparation for the next report, guaranteeing that the contribution of civil society was timely provided to the Committee, including:
a. Questions to be posed to the Government in relation of the official report, in the pre-sessional meetings, together with the parallel report;
List of Participants
FIAN India Consultation on
Sept.03, 2008 New Delhi
Dr. Kumar Prasant
Visionaries of creative Action for Liberation & Progress “VICALP”
P.O- Gopalpur- on- sea ORISSA. N- 09437578487
Panchsheel Development Trust
183 Hanuman Colony, Sufipura
Anup Kumar Srivastava
Human Rights Law Network
576, Masjid Road, Jangpura,
Mob: 09910749684/ 09868639942
Preeti Elhence- Coordinator
180/7 Shastri Nagar, Meerut
FIAN West Bengal
Govind Dev JOSHI
Suman nagar, Hridwar,
Officer,Govt. Of India
Terhi Dam (Bandh)
Punarwash Vikash Samittee,
District: Haridwar Sangharsha
Punarwash Vikash Samittee,
FIAN Madhya Pradesh
c/o Grassroot India Trust
First Floor, Royal Apartments
J-68, A.F. Enclave, Okhla, New Delhi-2J
Tel: 011-26955452, 09868993710
7,Nawal Kishore Road
Human Rights Law Network
576, Masjid road,
FIAN Rajsthan Group C/oGRAVIS
Pal Road, Jodhpur
Ashok Kumar Sinha
Bahadurpur housing colony
Avinash K. Singh,Consultant
The Child Trust
T. Ravi Kumar
FIAN Andhra Pradesh
WILLY BRAND PLOT 5
+ 49 6221 6530030(Off)
+49 172 1394447( )
JRC, CENTRE FOR WORLD SOLIDARITY
22A, SHIV SINGH BAGAN,
3rd cross, 13thMain, Indiranagar HAL2nd stage
Bangalore 560038, 09886403256
Ph: 0049 6221 65 30030
Nitika Pant, Volunteer FIAN U.P. and Secretary
Social Action For Knowledge Building & Awareness Raising(SAKAR)
Centre For Community Economics And Development Consultant Society(CECOEDECON)
F-159-160, Sitapura, TarkRoad,
South Asian Regional Programme-Housing And Land Right Network(HLRN)
Elizabeth Martin, EED Partner
CNI Synoclical Board of Social Services Programme Associate& PARAM
16, Pandit Pant Marg
Ph: 093718168/ 23351727
H. NO. C-284
Minto Road Complex
Balbir Singh Tomar
Vill. Dubhar Krishnanpur
Post. Gamgoh( Saharanpur)
FIAN India Delhi office
A-8,Sarvoday Nagar,Indira Nagar
Vikas Adhyayan Kendra
Implementation of the Concluding Observation of the CESCR and follow up for Next Report
Sept.03, 2008, New Delhi
By: FIAN India
Programme - Schedule
10.00 am – 10.10 am
Welcome and introduction
D.Gurusamy,FIAN Tamil Nadu
10.10 am – 10.20 am
National Process of preparation of the parallel report
Sanjay K Rai,National Coordinator
10.20 am – 10.50 am
Parallel report at Geneva and CESCR recommendations
Sabine Pabst,South Asia Desk,FIAN International
10.50 am – 11.45 am
- Miloon Kothari,Former UN Special Rapporteur on Adequate Housing
- Anup Srivastava, Human Rights Law Network (HRLN)
11.45 am – 12.00 am
12.00 am-12 .30 pm
Significance of the CESCR concluding observations and their implementation at the National level – International Experience
Dr. Flavio Valente,Secretary General
- PWESCR—Preeti Darooka
- HLRN-Shivani Chaudhary
Initiative already taken to as Follow –up of concluding observations at the state and national level
- Andhra Pradesh – Ravi
- Uttar Pradesh – Suman
- Karnataka – Mr. Bosco
- West Bengal – Ujjiani Halim
- Tamil Nadu – D. Gurusamy
1. Action plan for follow-up until 2011
2. What could you contribute at state/national level to implement the concluding observations?
Moderation by – Dr.Ujjaini Halim and Ms. Suman
Right to Food Conference in Lucknow on Human Rights Day
FIAN organised a conference on starvation and access to food on December 10 in Lucknow, the capital of Uttar Pradesh, the most populated state of India. The participants included activists working on the right to food and other human rights, a Member of Parliament, a Minister in Uttar Pradesh Government and people from communities, who find it difficult to access food. Among the community members were present Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, agriculture labours, weavers, chikankari (handicraft) workers, flood displacees, visually impaired, rickshaw pullers, scavengers, etc. Though only 450 people had been invited to the conference, keeping in mind the size of the conference hall, nearly 1,500 people attended the conference as lots of community members came to the venue.
The deliberations of the conference began with highlighting the problems of various sections of the community in the presence of three persons, with the capacity to influence decision making by the government. Towards the end of the conference these three persons spoke of their viewpoints.
An activist working with weavers, Hasan Siddiqui, highlighted problems of the community he represented. He said for the last seven or eight years the condition of the weavers had worsened following the abolition of the subsidy on silk. Cheaper silk articles from China have replaced the Indian articles and the weavers are without work now. As a result 39 weavers, or their family members including children, have died during the last one year, following suicides and hunger. He demanded constitution of a commission to go into all the issues faced by the weavers.
Working with the Saharia tribe in Lalitpur district, Ajay Srivastava said the condition of Saharias had worsened during the last two years, after they were conferred the status of Scheduled Tribes by the State Government. While facilities to them as Scheduled Castes have ceased, they were yet to get facilities that are available to Scheduled Tribes. Traditionally, Saharias worked in sand stone mines, but after the closure of mining following an order of the Supreme Court they have been left without any work. Now the Saharias are ready to do any menial job available and are exploited by both the private persons and government authorities when it comes to payment of wages.
Dhruv Kumar, an activist working among displaced people, said in Bahraich district, the changing course of the Ghaghra river has washed out 30 villages and displaced almost 6,000 people. He has documented 730 deaths in Mahasi sub-district because of malnutrition among the displaced people. He regretted that the National Rehabilitation Policy was silent on the people displaced by changing courses of rivers and felt that this aspect needs to be incorporated in the policy.
An activist SK Singh, working with visually impaired people, said the condition of the visually impaired people was highly pitiable. Despite the fact that the government had reserved 1 per cent of vacancies for this group of people, only a handful of visually impaired people have actually been recruited for these posts. Since the visually impaired people did not constitute a political group, no one listens to them.
Ram Babu of the Rickshaw Pullers' Committee, said rickshaw pullers in Lucknow were from different parts of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal. Their fathers and forefathers died after pulling rickshaws and the present lot faced the same fate. They did not have a place to live in this big city, and water was their greatest predicament. There are no rickshaw stands and they face coercion by the police, who not only extracts money from them, but also commits atrocities on them in case of any crime in localities closer to their settlements.
A worker working among scavengers, Raj Kumar Rawat, regretted that the scheme of rehabilitation launched in 1993 failed miserably. The Chief Minister of the State issued orders to appoint 100,000 'cleanliness workers' (as the government preferred to call them), but the Urban Development Minister in his government brought this number to 65,000. The most disturbing fact was that all the appointments were being done on contract for wages less than those prescribed by the Government.
Vipin Bihari, a lawyer with Allahabad High Court, debated whether the right to food was a constitutional right. Citing the statement of a 'sensitive' sitting judge of the High Court he exhorted the activists if they chose to raise the voice of the people in the court, they should do it with full facts, which were of paramount importance.
Sunita, working on land rights, talked of women's land rights. She emphasised that the definition of farmer should be changed to make it pro-gender, because according to the present definition farmer is the man who worked in the fields.
Ashok Sinha, working with Action Aid, said that three P's - post, position and praise - were behind the pitiable condition of the people. He said that starvation did not happen in a day. Though the government had provision to make available 35 kg of grains in a month for as little as Rs 90, it was not happening anywhere. In his address he highlighted the pitiable condition of vulnerable communities not only in India, but also in many other countries.
Thore Anton from FIAN-Norway, read out the message of the Norwegian Agriculture Minister to the audience. He said a new government had taken over in his country recently, and the minister would have liked to come to India, but could not come because of pressing works back home. He drew attention of the audience towards postcards displayed on the dais. These postcards had shown concern by Norwegian people over land rights in five villages in Chitrakoot district.
A human rights activist from FIAN-Norway, Gunvald, in his address spoke of misuse of the law, particularly Land Reforms Act and Zamindari Abolition Act. He said that a fact finding mission during the last year had highlighted discrepancy that the people had legal papers of the land, but did not have occupation on that. He stressed that newer methods would have to be found out to solve the problem.
Executive Director of FIAN-Norway, Kristin Kjaeret, advocated all human rights for all the women, men, children and humans. In her address he quoted extensively from Universal Declaration of Human Rights by United Nations and said that FIAN viewed starvation as an extreme violation of human rights.
Anjana Prakash, Chairperson of State Social Welfare Advisory Board, said civilisations in the world have developed around hunger and there cannot be an alternative to grains. She said while democracy has gained strength, the government has become weaker. She said that to fight hunger, the government had given authority to gram pradhans to keep a reserve fund of Rs 1,000. But efficacy of this measure was not yet known.
A Member of Parliament from Khiri district, Ravi Prakash Verma, said no one could stop the campaign to make right to food a Constitutional right. Citing the strength of below poverty line people, he said if all the BPLs united, they could form a government of their own. He expressed the opinion that economic reforms, administrative and judicial reforms should have been launched. He advocated for the constitution of Social Security Board to fight vulnerability of a large section of population.
Ashok Bajpai, Minister of Agriculture with Uttar Pradesh Government, lauded the organisers for succeeding in drawing attention of the entire state to such a critical issue. He said starvation was a blot on humanity despite self-reliance in grains. The governments need to give a deep thought to this anomaly.
In the end, Vijay Vir Singh of FIAN-UP proposed a vote of thanks.
Victims of hunger and starvation get heard on World Food Day
On the 16th of October on the occasion of World Food Day FIAN Andhra Pradesh organised a Public Hearing on Hunger in Hyderabad. The public hearing provided a platform to critically examine the cases in which deaths occur as a result of starvation or prolonged mal-nutrition and the right to food violations involved in such cases. Around 1000 people participated in the public hearing with representation from almost all the districts of Andhra Pradesh and victims of around 13 cases gave depositions before the jury. The jury report is awaited and will be made available as soon as possible.
The Constitution of India recognizes the Right to Food as an integral part of the Fundamental Right to Life (Article 21). Starvation constitutes a gross denial and violation of this right. Persons living in conditions of poverty and hunger have often been found to be suffering from prolonged hunger and mal-nutrition. Even when their deaths cannot, in strictly clinical terms, be related to starvation, the tragic reality remains that they often die of prolonged mal-nutrition and the continuum of distress.
The public hearing held in Hyderabad aimed:
Around 1000 people participated in the public hearing with representation from almost all the districts of Andhra Pradesh. 40 cases were documented for the hearing and victims of around 13 cases gave depositions before the jury. The depositions brought forth the heart wrenching situation of the victims suffering from hunger and starvation. In order to survive the victims have to decide whether to eat once in two days or even less. This in a land where there is enough food to feed everyone, enough to be exported, yet hunger persists. The jury for the public hearing comprised of Mr. K.G. Kannabhiran. PUCL, National President & Senior Advocate in High Court, Andhra Pradesh; Mr. Bojja Tarakam, Senior Advocate in High Court, Andhra Pradesh; Mr. Potturi Venkateswara Rao, Chairman of Andhra Pradesh Press Academy; Prof M. Kodanda Ram Reddy, Professor & working on Right to Food & Supreme Court Commission Member, Prof Hara Gopal, University of Hyderabad, Dr. K. Rangarao a Medical Doctor. The jury report is awaited and will be made available as soon as possible.
- To provide space for the victims of human right to food violations to depose their cases before the peoples court of the national and international community. Short of their cases not having been settled so far, some times even for years, by the designated institutions of the state.
- To give an opportunity to the national and international community to express their solidarity with the victims in the face of massive denial of their rights.
- To solicit support from the media for the purpose of creating and shaping public opinion against such right to food violations.
- To reveal gross irregularities in food-related programmes and a disastrous level of public services and non-adherence to Supreme Court orders on food and work.
- To provide a platform for those who are concerned about upholding human rights in general particularly right to adequate food.
FIAN demands that the Indian government takes massive action against starvation deaths
Campaign launched on the occasion of World Food Day, 16th of October
Heidelberg, 13/10/2005 - India is the country with the highest number of people suffering from hunger around the globe. Nearly one fourth of the world's hungry live in India. In the last six months, FIAN activists from the Indian states of Andhra Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh have been reporting new cases of starvation deaths. According to FIAN, the international human rights organization for the human right to food, the hunger problem in India could find a more effective solution, if the Indian state showed more engagement. Like the years before, FIAN initiates several global actions on the occasion of this year's World Food Day. The FIAN campaign of 2005 will focus on the alarming hunger situation in India and on the UN Millennium Development Goals. Click here for highlight action 1 and highlight action
The elements of FIANs campaign this year consist of a protest letter action about the alarming cases of starvation deaths in India, as well as a set of posters and a documentary. Additionally, on October 15th and 16th, FIAN will invite affected populations to participate in a public hearing about starvation deaths in two Indian States. In those hearings, representatives from the Indian government, the judiciary, and from different human rights organizations will hear the testimony of the victims of starvation. FIAN´s mission will be to fight for concrete action to be taken by the Indian State against starvation, in accordance with the international and national law.
"The main reason for malnutrition and hunger in India is, like in many other countries of the world, a lack of political will of the Indian State. India fails to fulfil the obligations of the United Nations International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, including the right to food" says Michael Windfuhr, Secretary General of FIAN International. "The fight against hunger and malnutrition plays a secondary role in Indian policies and the existing social programmes lack an efficient implementation."
At the same time, Windfuhr requests the 189 state parties of the Millennium Declaration of 2000 to stop talking and start acting. "If the state parties won't succeed soon in reducing the number of people suffering from hunger, they will get nowhere near to their aim of halving hunger until 2015" concludes
Since 1979, World Food Day takes place on 16th of October. Every year on this day FIAN highlights a specific violation of the human right to food. The main reason for these violations is the lack of political will of governments.
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