The Role of the UN Special Rapporteur in the Development of the Right to Food: Legitimation Through Clarification

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Publication details

Title of host publicationCibo e Diritto: Dalla Dichiarazione Universale alla Carta di Milano
DatePublished - 2015
PublisherStem Muchi editore
Place of PublicationModena
EditorsMarco Gestri
Original languageEnglish


Looking back at the mandates of the two former UN Special Rapporteurs on the right to food – Jean Ziegler (2000-2008) and Olivier de Schutter (2008-2014) – and at the work undertaken by the current mandate-holder – Hilal Elver, since 2014 – one can observe that much of their efforts are devoted to the goal of clarification. In turn, this clarification serves to legitimatize the right to food in governmental circles, among civil society organizations (CSOs) and other non-state actors, and in international law more broadly. This contribution will first provide a macro picture and a brief history of Special Procedures in the UN system with focus on those Special Procedures that hold economic, social and cultural rights (ESC rights) mandates. The aim of this section is to emphasize that clarification is a common endeavour of socio-economic Special Procedures, including thus of the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food. The second part of this study will discuss the clarification work of the former and current right to food mandate-holders and the two forms which this work takes: demythification of the right to food and practical guidance. Finally, the role of Special Rapporteurs in the process of legitimation of the right to food will be addressed.

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