Food Prints on Human Rights Law Paradigms
European Institute for Food Law, Working Paper Series 2017/02
33 Pages Posted: 23 Oct 2017
Date Written: October 21, 2017
This paper discusses the interaction between the development of legal theory on human rights (HRs) in general and on the right to food in particular.
In international treaties HRs are often subdivided in two groups: civil and political rights (CPRs) on the one hand, and economic, social and cultural rights (ESCRs) on the other. These two sets of rights have been treated in fundamentally different ways. A judicial practice developed only for the application of CPRs. This gave rise to a paradigm in legal theory stating that CPRs give negative obligations to the state (e.g., obligations not to interfere with the freedoms of citizens), while ESCRs give positive obligations (e.g., obligations to provide certain preconditions of life). Negative obligations can be enforced against the state. Positive obligations are unenforceable policy directives.
The UN views HRs as indivisible. ESCRs should empower people just as much as CPRs do. The special rapporteur on the right to food, Asbjørn Eide, coined a new paradigm to this effect. It connects negative and positive state obligations to all HRs. This paper argues that it is time for the next step in HR theory: a paradigm that moves beyond state obligations.
Keywords: Human Rights, Legal Theory, Right to Food
JEL Classification: K10, K33, K40, Q18
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation