What is 'Right to food'?
-The right to food, and its variations, is a human right protecting the right for people to feed themselves in dignity, implying that sufficient food is available, that people have the means to access it, and that it adequately meets the individual's dietary needs. The right to food protects the right of all human beings to be free from hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition. The right to food does not imply that governments have an obligation to hand out free food to everyone who wants it, or a right to be fed. However, if people are deprived of access to food for reasons beyond their control, for example, because they are in detention, in times of war or after natural disasters, the right requires the government to provide food directly.
The right is derived from the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights which has 160 state parties as of May 2012. States that sign the covenant agree to take steps to the maximum of their available resources to achieve progressively the full realization of the right to adequate food, both nationally and internationally. In a total of 106 countries the right to food is applicable either via constitutional arrangements of various forms or via direct applicability in law of various international treaties in which the right to food is protected.
At the 1996 World Food Summit, governments reaffirmed the right to food and committed themselves to half the number of hungry and malnourished from 840 to 420 million by 2015. However, the number has increased over the past years, reaching an infamous record in 2009 of more than 1 billion undernourished people worldwide. Furthermore, the number who suffer from hidden hunger - micronutrient deficiences that may cause stunted bodily and intellectual growth in children - amounts to over 2 billion people worldwide.
Whilst under international law states are obliged to respect, protect and fulfill the right to food, the practical difficulties in achieving this human right are demonstrated by prevalent food insecurity across the world.