Research Paper – Constitutional guarantees against Hunger in African Countries: An assessment of legal integration of UN food policies

Arthur A. Catraio; Larissa B. N. Soares
Arthur A. Catraio is a Ph.D. Candidate & Researcher at the Brazilian School of Public Administration (EBAPE/FGV), and a Visiting Researcher at the Faculty of Economics and Management Sciences (SPMA), University of Pretoria. His research focuses on the political economy of human development in contemporary Sub-Saharan Africa.

Larissa B. N. Soares is a senior lawyer and legal mediator specialized in conflict resolution, MPhil in Law & Development (FDRP-University of São Paulo), and Visiting Researcher at the Centre for Mediation in Africa, University of Pretoria.

Abstract

The fall of European colonial empires during the second half of the twentieth century led to a new international order characterized by the democratization of international organizations. In return, the democratization of international organizations reinforced the legal duty of human rights protection within the international community. Our aim is to provide an overview of the influence of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization’s directives on the incorporation of legal protections against hunger in African constitutions. We will base our assessment of the existing constitutional guarantees against hunger in Africa on a cross-sectional geoprocessing statistical analysis of the respective constitutions of the 54 African countries currently recognized by the UN. The findings reveal that solely 17 African constitutions explicitly integrate international food policies directives. The study recommends that governments should pursue both further explicit legal guarantees, and law enforcement against hunger.

Keywords: Hunger Prevalence; African Constitutionalism; Comparative Constitutional Law; FAO; Human Development.

Introduction

The creation of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in 1945 was especially designed to meet the urgent needs of European nations’ endemic hunger in the aftermath of World War II (FAO 2015a). During all the second half of the twentieth century, however, new countries were formed and new democratic constitutions were drafted following the fall of the European colonial empires. The redefinition of the global mission towards combating hunger, previously pursued by the Eurocentric International Institute of Agriculture (IIA), would be accompanied by a systematic process of democratization of international organizations (Mansfield & Pevehouse 2006). In the context of post-colonialism, the independence attained by new African and Asian countries would lead therefore to the amplification of the UN mission. In particular, the FAO’s mission would expand its scope of hunger eradication to a worldwide scale, subsequently focusing policy shifts recommendations to emerging countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America (Castro 1969; Ziegler 2011). The current research aims to assess the potential influence of UN global food directives through the FAO in African constitutions.

How the FAO has influenced the integration of an African regional approach to hunger eradication policies? Are there common constitutional grounds of African countries against hunger and undernutrition? How African constitutions protect their respective citizens from hunger in their own territories? Such questions are relevant for three different reasons. First, despite the existence of previous efforts to develop a substantial assessment on the constitutional and legal protections of the right to food around the world by the FAO (2011) there is no holistic approach to date that covers the African legal guarantees against hunger in a comparative perspective for all the countries in Africa. Second, sub-Saharan Africa today is the region with the highest prospect of population growth, ultra-poverty, and chronic hunger prevalence in the world for the near future (Ahlers et al. 2014; Barret 2014, 148; FAO 2015b). Third, an integrated overview of the existing African constitutional protections against hunger could shed new lights on what legal improvements can be developed by African countries in order to achieve the UN Millennium Declaration (MDGs), the Rome Declaration on World Food Security, and the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Program (CAADP)’s established goals.

Our contribution will consist in gathering textual legal evidences, and highlighting the current existing distinctions on all current African constitutions in respect to the right of populations to be food secure. In this sense, the proposed assessment will not be a causal study on the conditions of the current state of constitutional legal protections for each African country. Nevertheless, it may raise original insights and substantial evidences for potential further causal studies. Our aim is to advance the legal comprehension of hunger protection with a focus in Africa, and contribute thereby to the contemporary agenda of research and policy making framed by African constitutionalist perspectives. The results found could be of interest to academic researchers, policy makers, and regional/international development organizations.

Methodology

We will base our assessment of the existing constitutional guarantees against hunger in Africa on a cross-sectional geoprocessing statistical analysis of the respective constitutional texts of the 54 African countries currently recognized by the UN. Namely, we will rely on the constitutions of Algeria (1989), Angola (2010), Benin (1990), Botswana (1966), Burkina Faso (1991), Burundi (2005), Cameroon (1972), Cape Verde (1980), Central African Republic (2015), Chad (1996), Comoros (2001), Cote d’Ivoire (2000), Democratic Republic of the Congo (2005), Djibouti (1992), Egypt (2014), Equatorial Guinea (1995), Eritrea (1997), Ethiopia (1994), Gabon (1991), Gambia (1996), Ghana (1992), Guinea (2010), Guinea-Bissau (1984), Kenya (2010), Lesotho (1993), Liberia (1986), Libya (2011), Madagascar (2010), Malawi (1994), Mali (1992), Mauritania (1991), Mauritius (1968), Morocco (2011), Mozambique (2004), Namibia (1990), Niger (2010), Nigeria (1999), Republic of Congo (2015), Rwanda (2003), Sao Tome and Principe (1975), Senegal (2001), Seychelles (1993), Sierra Leone (1991), Somalia (2012), South Africa (1996), South Sudan (2011), Sudan (2005), Swaziland (2005), Tanzania (1977), Togo (1992), Tunisia (2014), Uganda (1995), Zambia (1991), and Zimbabwe (2013). We also provide the full list of constitutional amendments considered for each country in the references[1].

In addition, we employ an empirical strategy to our constitutional analysis grounded on an original set of qualitative and quantitative categorical classification of variables. In order to assess which constitutions present specific protections against hunger, we utilize a dummy variable that takes the value of 1 if any specific food or nutrition provisions were declared by the constitution, and 0 otherwise. For instance, we utilize the question: does the constitution of country ‘X’ mention the word food, nutrition, or hunger ? If the answer was Yes, for one of these variables, then we compute their corresponding frequency. On the other hand, if the answer was No, then we only noted no corresponding constitutional guarantees. We present the summary of our findings in Table 1. This classification allows us to highlight which country provides explicit rights against hunger, and how strong is its observed frequency density. We further present a map (Figure 1) that illustrates the constitutional hunger protection density for the entire African continent.

Certain caveats shall be considered however. As suggested by contemporary legal doctrines, the open texture of constitutional texts is a recognized fact that national operators of law must take into consideration during the practical application of constitutional rules (Bobbio 1997; Hart 2012; Kelsen 1967; Müller 2009). In practical terms, it means that the absence of explicit constitutional food security guarantees does not necessarily mean that a country offers no protection whatsoever against hunger. In effect, countries may provide subsumed protections against hunger through a variety of other legal health guarantees. In this sense, we frame our research design as a quest to differentiate which countries present explicit rights concerning the protection of their citizens from hunger, and which do not. Furthermore, it allows us to distinguish the variation of which countries provide stronger protections against hunger according to the observed frequency of occurrences. To assess the presence of constitutional health provisions as well as their respective frequency in each constitution, we adapt the empirical strategy used to analyze the presence of constitutional food provisions to the question: does the constitution of country ‘X’ mention the word health, health care, public health, or health safety ? If the answer was Yes, for one of these variables, then we compute their corresponding frequency. On the other hand, if the answer was No, then we only noted no corresponding constitutional guarantees. Since constitutions generally declare the right to health in a broad perspective, its presence in different constitutions is more trivial than explicit guarantees against hunger. We present the summary of our findings in Table 1.

Finally, it is worth noting that we have employed slightly different terms during our analysis when the original language of the constitution in question was not English. While we employed the variables alimentation, aliments, nutrition, nourrir, nourriture, faim, famine, and santé, soins, santé publique, sécurité sanitaire for Francophone constitutions, we employed the variables alimentação, alimentos, nutrição, fome, and saúde, cuidados/assistência médica, saúde pública, incolumidade for Lusophone constitutions. For official Arabic constitutions, we relied on official English and French translations when available. We provide accessible links for the consultation of each analyzed constitution in the references.

Overview of UN Food Policy Goals in Africa

Prior to examining the empirical evidences on the existing national guarantees against hunger for each African country, it is imperative to contextualize the UN food directives in Africa. Only then we will be able to evaluate how close each national constitution is positioned  regarding the integration of international standards to combat hunger and food insecurity. Our focus will be framed by the most recent agreements concerning hunger eradication.

The Rome Declaration on World Food Security (FAO 1996) is the first major initiative that shaped our current international agenda on the fight against hunger by setting the goal of halving the overall number of people that suffer from hunger between 1990 and 2015. The United Nations Millenium Declaration (UN 2000) complements this goal by setting the more feasible target of halving the proportion of people who suffer from hunger between 1990 and 2015, while also pledging for the eradication of extreme poverty alltogheter. The urgency of this agenda placed the United Nations Millenium Declaration’s target of halving the proportion of people who suffer from hunger by 2015 at the forefront of its millenium development goals, as the first goal of the millenium to be pursued by all the international community of nations. Finally, the United Nations  2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development complementarily sets as its second goal the complete end of hunger, the achievement of food security and improved nutrition by 2030. These three distinct policy orientations set a clear path to be pursued by the international community on specific goals related to hunger eradication.

Considering that none of the targets proposed either by the Rome Declaration on World Food Security, or the United Nations Millenium Declaration, were attained by all African countries in 2015, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development can be seen as a relevant intent of renewing the international compromise towards their goals. Although other fundamental directives on hunger eradication originated from the 1966 International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights, and from the 1974 Universal Declaration on the Eradication of Hunger and Malnutrition, the current international agenda on the fight against hunger has more recently focused in addressing the three explicit goals abovementioned. The evaluation of national guarantees against hunger can thus contribute to understand to what extent African constitutions provide explicit protections to their national citizens in order to contribute to the concretization of the international agenda of hunger eradication.

Empirical Evidences

Regional Integration of Constitutional Food Guarantees

Among the 54 African countries officially recognized by the UN, only 17 present any kind of textual explicit constitutional protection against hunger. We map and list these countries below in Figure 1. Nevertheless, we cannot reduce the design of the geography of constitutional protection density against hunger in Africa solely to the countries’ own constitutions. Moreover, the 1990 African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child presents extra binding legal instruments of protection against hunger within the African countries that have ratified it. Such is the case of most countries, except for the Central African Republic, Djibouti, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Somalia, Swaziland, Tunisia, and Zambia that have hitherto signed but not ratified the charter, and also Sudan, South Sudan, Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Sao Tome and Principe that have not signed the charter. We present the map of ratification of the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child in Figure 2.

Figure 1. Map of constitutional guarantees against hunger in Africa

Map summary: Constitutional provisions frequency by country
1 2 3 4 5 10
Burundi (1) Nigeria (2) Niger (3) D. R. Congo (3) South Africa (5) Zimbabwe (7)
Cape Verde (1) Malawi (3) Kenya (3)
Ethiopia (1) Egypt (2)
Gambia (1) Uganda (2)
Namibia (1)
Seychelles (1)
Sierra Leone (1)
South Sudan (1)

 

Source: developed by the authors. Note: Some constitutional articles comprehend more than one term frequency. We present the overall number of articles that cover protections against hunger in each constitution in parentheses.

 

Constitutional Legal Instruments

In this section, we highlight the specific provisions found in each African country’s constitutional text that explicitly express the right to their citizens to be food secure, and free from hunger. Subsequently, we provide an integrated balance review of these legal instruments:

Burundi: Chapter of Fundamental Values. Article 17. The Government has the task to realize the aspirations of the Burundian People, in particular to heal the divisions of the past, to ameliorate the quality of life of all Burundians and to guarantee to all the possibility to live in Burundi protected from fear, from discrimination, from disease and from hunger.

Cape Verde: On Paternity and Maternity obligations. Article 86. §1. Fathers and mothers must give assistance to children born within or outside marriage, namely food, care, and education.

Ethiopia: Chapter 10. National Policy Principles and Objectives. Article 90. Social Objectives. §1. To the extent the country’s resources permit, policies shall aim to provide all Ethiopians access to public health and education, clean water, housing, food and social security.

Gambia: Chapter 20. Directive Principles of State Policy. Article 216. Social objectives. §4. The State shall endeavor to facilitate equal access to clean and safe water, adequate health and medical services, habitable shelter, sufficient food and security to all persons.

Namibia: Chapter 11. Principles of State Policy. Article 95. Promotion of the Welfare of the People. The State shall actively promote and maintain the welfare of the people by adopting, inter alia, policies aimed at the following: (j) consistent planning to raise and maintain an acceptable level of nutrition and standard of living of the Namibian people and to improve public health [.]

Seychelles: Preamble. Solemnly declaring our unswaying commitment, during this our Third Republic … to develop a democratic system which will ensure the creation of an adequate and progressive social order guaranteeing food, clothing, shelter, education, health and a steadily rising standard of living for all Seychellois […]

Sierra Leone: Chapter 2. Fundamental Principles of State Policy. Article 7. §1. The State shall within the context of the ideals and objectives for which provisions are made in this Constitution … (d) place proper and adequate emphasis on agriculture in all its aspects so as to ensure self-sufficiency in food production [.]

South Sudan: Part 3. Fundamental Objectives and Guiding Principles. Chapter 1. Objectives and Principles. Guiding Objectives and Principles. Article 35. §2. This Constitution shall be interpreted and applied to advance the individual dignity and address the particular needs of the people by dedicating public resources and focusing attention on the provision of gainful employment for the people, and improving their lives by building roads, schools, airports, community institutions, hospitals, providing clean water, food security, electric power and telecommunication services to every part of the country.

Nigeria: Chapter 2. Fundamental Objectives and Directive Principles of State Policy. Article 16. §2. The State shall direct its policy towards ensuring … (d) that suitable and adequate shelter, suitable and adequate food, reasonable national minimum living wage, old age care and pensions, and unemployment, sick benefits and welfare of the disabled are provided for all citizens. || Schedule 4. Functions of a Local Government Council. §1. The main functions of a local government council are as follows: (k) control and regulation of … (iv)  restaurants, bakeries and other places for sale of food to the public [.]

Niger: Title 2. Of the Rights and Duties of the Human Person. Article 12. Each one has the right to life, to health, to physical and moral integrity, to a healthy and sufficient food supply, to potable water, to education and instruction in the conditions specified by the law. || Title 5. Of the Relations between the Executive and the Legislative powers. Article 100. The Law determines the fundamental principlesof the Water and Food Security Code [.]  || Title VII. Of the Economic, Social and Cultural Development. Section 1. Of the general orientations of the policy of development. Article 146. The public policies must promote food supply sovereignty, durable development, the access to all to social services as well as the improvement of the quality of life.

Democratic Republic of the Congo: Chapter 2. Of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. Article 47. The right to health and to [a] secure food supply is guaranteed. The law specifies the fundamental principles and the rules of organization for public health and secure food supply. || Section 2. Of the Distribution of Competences between the Central Power and the Provinces. Article 202. Without prejudice to the other provisions of this Constitution, the following matters are of the exclusive competence of the Central Power: §25 The energy, agricultural and forestry regimes concerning hunting and fishing, concerning the conservation of nature (flora and fauna), concerning the capture and breeding of animals, foodstuffs of animal origin and concerning the veterinary arts [.] || Article 203. Without prejudice to the other provisions of this Constitution, the following matters are of the concurrent competence of the Central Power and the Provinces: §19. The regulation concerning the regimes of energy, agriculture and forests, livestock, foodstuffs of animal or vegetable origin [.]

Kenya: Article 43. Economic and social rights. §1. Every person has the right (c) to be free from hunger, and to have adequate food of acceptable quality [.] || Fourth Schedule Distribution of Functions between the National Government and the County Governments (Article 185 (2), 186 (1) and 187 (2)). Part 2. County Governments. The functions and powers of the county are  … §2 County health services, including, in particular (d) licensing and control of undertakings that sell food to the public [.] || Part 3. Specific Application of Rights. Article 53. Children. §1. Every child has the right (c) to basic nutrition, shelter and health care [.]

Malawi: Chapter 3. Fundamental Principles. Principles of national policy. Article 13. The State shall actively promote the welfare and development of the people of Malawi by progressively adopting and implementing policies and legislation aimed at achieving the following goals (b) Nutrition. To achieve adequate nutrition for all in order to promote good health and self-sufficiency. || Chapter 4. Human Rights. Right to Development. Article 30. §2. The State shall take all necessary measures for the realization of the right to development. Such measures shall include, amongst other things, equality of opportunity for all in their access to basic resources, education, health services, food, shelter, employment and infrastructure. || Arrest, detention and fair trial. Article 42. §1. Every person who is detained, including every sentenced prisoner, shall have the right  (b) to be detained under conditions consistent with human dignity, which shall include at least the provision of reading and writing materials, adequate nutrition and medical treatment at the expense of the State [.]

Egypt: Chapter 3. Public Rights, Freedoms and Duties. Article 79. Food. Each citizen has the right to healthy, sufficient amounts of food and clean water. The state shall provide food resources to all citizens. It also ensures food sovereignty in a sustainable manner, and guarantees the protection of agricultural biological diversity and types of local plants to preserve the rights of generations. Article 80. Rights of the child. A child is considered to be anyone who has not reached 18 years of age. Children have the right to be named and possess identification papers, have access to free compulsory vaccinations, health and family care or an alternative, basic nutrition, safe shelter, religious education, and emotional and cognitive development.

South Africa: Chapter 2. Bill of Rights. Article 27. Health care, food, water and social security. §1. Everyone has the right to have access to (b) sufficient food and water [.] Article 28. Children. §1. Every child has the right (c) to basic nutrition, shelter, basic health care services and social services [.] || Article 35. Arrested, detained and accused persons. §2. Everyone who is detained, including every sentenced prisoner, has the right (e) to conditions of detention that are consistent with human dignity, including at least exercise and the provision, at state expense, of adequate accommodation, nutrition, reading material and medical treatment [.] || South African Human Rights Commission. Article 184. Functions of South African Human Rights Commission. §3. Each year, the South African Human Rights Commission must require relevant organs of state to provide the Commission with information on the measures that they have taken towards the realization of the rights in the Bill of Rights concerning housing, health care, food, water, social security, education and the environment. || Schedule 5. Functional Areas of Exclusive Provincial Legislative Competence. Part B. The following local government matters to the extent set out for provinces in section 155(6)(a) and (7): Licensing and control of undertakings that sell food to the public [.]

Uganda: Social and economic objectives. Article 14. General social and economic objectives. The State shall endeavor to fulfill the fundamental rights of all Ugandans to social justice and economic development and shall, in particular, ensure that … (b) all Ugandans enjoy rights and opportunities and access to education, health services, clean and safe water, work, decent shelter, adequate clothing, food security and pension and retirement benefits. Article 22. Food security and nutrition. The State shall (a) take appropriate steps to encourage people to grow and store adequate food; (b) establish national food reserves; (c) encourage and promote proper nutrition through mass education and other appropriate means in order to build a healthy State.

Zimbabwe: Chapter 2. National Objectives. Article 15. Food security. The State must (a) encourage people to grow and store adequate food; (b) secure the establishment of adequate food reserves; and (c) encourage and promote adequate and proper nutrition through mass education and other appropriate means. Article 19. Children. §2. The State must adopt reasonable policies and measures, within the limits of the resources available to it, to ensure that children (b) have shelter and basic nutrition, health care and social services [.] Article 21. Elderly persons. §2. The State and all institutions and agencies of government at every level must endeavor, within the limits of the resources available to them (b) to provide facilities, food and social care for elderly persons who are in need [.] || Part 2. Fundamental Human Rights and Freedoms. Article 50. Rights of arrested and detained persons. §5. Any person who is detained, including a sentenced prisoner, has the right (d) to conditions of detention that are consistent with human dignity, including the opportunity for physical exercise and the provision, at State expense, of adequate accommodation, ablution facilities, personal hygiene, nutrition, appropriate reading material and medical treatment [.] || Article 77. Right to food and water. Every person has the right to (b) sufficient food [.] || Part 3. Elaboration of Certain Rights. Article 81. Rights of children. §1. Every child, that is to say every boy and girl under the age of eighteen years, has the right (f) to education, health care services, nutrition and shelter [.] || Chapter 16. Agricultural Land. Article 289. Principles guiding policy on agricultural land. In order to redress the unjust and unfair pattern of land ownership that was brought about by colonialism, and to bring about land reform and the equitable access by all Zimbabweans to the country’s natural resources, policies regarding agricultural land must be guided by the following principles: (e) the use of agricultural land should promote food security, good health and nutrition and generate employment, while protecting and conserving the environment for future generations [.]

 

Overview of Constitutional Guarantees

Among the countries that provide explicit guarantees on the right to food and protection against hunger, we may highlight some substantial features. In Burundi, the possibility that all of its citizens live protected from hunger is considered a fundamental value of the constitution, and thus may serve as a general national orientation on matters of policy and legislation. In Cape Verde, food assistance is considered a parental obligation towards children, and as such it may be a fragile instrument to protect children of poorer families. In fact, parents that may eventually be victims of impoverished conditions are held responsible for the food provision of their family. This normative system may very likely reproduce social and economic inequalities over time, instead of generating mechanisms of public assistance to eradicate poverty traps. In Ethiopia, the right to food is presented as part of the national Fundamental values, and of the National Policy Principles and Objectives. Relying on the hierarchy of constitutional norms, it may be an effective instrument to guide infra-national legislation on the right to food, and protection against hunger. The Gambian constitution frames the right to food as a problem of food access, and public social policies as potential remedy to food insecurity. In Namibia, nutrition integrates the national welfare planning, and serves as a general target of social development.  Similar to the Namibian constitution, Seychelles’ constitution presents food guarantees as a matter of social order and public development. In Sierra Leone, the focus of its constitution is on food production as a strategic sector for state policy and self-sufficiency. Thereby, it primarily supports collective food security but does not provide explicit subjective protections to its citizens. In South Sudan, food security is a guiding constitutional principle, and may guide infra-national legislation on food security, and protection against hunger. In Nigeria, food security is a state obligation and a fundamental directive for policymaking, in addition to appear as an object of state control in terms of food safety and regulation. In this sense, Nigeria’s constitution provides both subjective and collective food security rights. The Niger’s constitution establishes that the state shall collectively guarantee food sovereignty supply, regulate food safety through the national Food Security code, and subjectively guarantee that all citizens have the right to sufficient food supply. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the constitution determines as a state obligation the guarantee of a secure food supply. The central power and the provinces are responsible for the regulation of the regimes of foodstuffs. In Kenya, according to the constitution, every person has the right to be free from hunger and to have adequate nutritious food, and every child hast the right to basic nutrition. The national governments and counties are responsible for food regulations. Its constitution combines subjective and collective rights to food security. The constitution of Malawi sets as a fundamental principle that the state is obliged to develop policies and legislations aimed at the achievement of adequate nutrition and guarantee the equality of opportunity to food access for all. In addition, it provides guarantees that detainees shall have the right to adequate nutrition at the expense of the state, corroborating the idea that nutrition shall be considered an inalienable human right. In Egypt’s constitution, the right to food is a public right, and each citizen has the right to sufficient amounts of food. Its originality relies on the fact that the state shall actively provide food resources to all its citizens. This state centered perspective also appears in the constitutional directive that food sovereignty shall be pursued in a sustainable manner. In South Africa, the constitution establishes that everyone has the right to have access to sufficient food, that children have right to basic nutrition, and that detainees have right to adequate nutrition. In general, these guarantees suggest a constitutional comprehension of the right to food as an inalienable human right. This commitment also appears in the obligation of competent subnational institutions to provide annual reports on the regional condition of food rights to its national Human Rights Commission. Its constitution is thus innovative for it mobilizes a technical support to human rights monitoring, providing material conditions to the realization of constitutional food guarantees. In Uganda, the society and the economy are oriented by the constitution to ensure the enjoyment of food security for all. In addition, the state actively participates in food storage through the management of national reserves, and promote proper nutrition by mass education plans.  The right to food appears therefore in the manner of a public welfare plan. Finally, the constitution of  Zimbabwe determines as a state obligation the guarantee of basic nutrition for children, food for the elderly, and the right to nutrition and sufficient food to detainees. It actively establishes adequate food reserves and agricultural land management policies to promote food security and nutrition as a state policy, and encourages proper nutrition by mass education. As a general balance, we verify that the African constitutions that explicitly provides protection guarantees against hunger set as a primary general principle the undertaking of subnational policies and legislations to advance the right to food. Most of them treat the right to food as a state obligation, although some are less incisive on the individual rights to food, focusing more broadly in collective protections. A clear exception here is the constitution of Cape Verde, which not only frames the right to food from an  assistance perspective, but also delegates the protection against hunger of its citizens to the family.

 

Figure 2. Ratification Map of the African Charter on The Rights and Welfare of the Child

Source: Based on the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR).

 

In addition to the national constitutional provisions, the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (1990) provides specific guarantees against hunger to African citizens. Since its ratification imply in binding legal consequences, countries that have ratified but that do not provide explicit constitutional guarantees may formally rely on the following children protection against hunger:

African Charter on The Rights and Welfare of the Child: Preamble: NOTING WITH CONCERN that the situation of most African children, remains critical due to the unique factors of their socio-economic, cultural, traditional and developmental circumstances, natural disasters, armed conflicts, exploitation and hunger, and on account of the child’s physical and mental immaturity he/she needs special safeguards and care. || Article 14. Health and Health Services. §2. State Parties to the present Charter shall undertake to pursue the full implementation of this right and in particular shall take measures: (c) to ensure the provision of adequate nutrition and safe drinking water; (d) to combat disease and malnutrition within the framework of primary health care through the application of appropriate technology; (h) to ensure that all sectors of the society, in particular, parents, children, community leaders and community workers are informed and supported in the use of basic knowledge of child health and nutrition, the advantages of breastfeeding, hygiene and environmental sanitation and the prevention of domestic and other accidents [.] Article 20. Parental Responsibilities §2. State Parties to the present Charter shall in accordance with their means and national conditions take all appropriate measures: (a) to assist parents and other persons responsible for the child and in case of need, provide material assistance and support programs particularly with regard to nutrition, health, education, clothing and housing [.]

 

Table 1. Comparison of hunger protection constitutional guarantees across African countries

Country Food Nutrition Hunger Health Health Care Public Health Health Safety
Algeria No No No 2 No 1 No
Angola No No No 17 7 1 1
Benin No No No 3 No No No
Botswana No No No 7 No 6 No
Burkina Faso No No No 3 No No No
Burundi No No 1 3 1 No No
Cameroon No No No 3 No No No
Cape Verde 1 No No 11 No No No
Central African Republic No No No 5 No 1 No
Chad No No No 6 No 2 No
Comoros No No No 2 No No No
Cote d’Ivoire No No No 3 No No No
Democratic R. Congo 4 No No 11 1 1 No
Djibouti No No No No No No No
Egypt 4 1 No 25 4 2 2
Equatorial Guinea No No No 1 1 No No
Eritrea No No No 3 No No No
Ethiopia 1 No No 12 No 3 No
Gabon No No No 2 No No No
Gambia 1 No No 8 No 1 No
Ghana No No No 16 1 3 No
Guinea No No No 5 No No No
Guinea Bissau No No No 2 No 1 No
Kenya 2 1 1 2 4 1 2
Lesotho No No No 16 No 9 No
Liberia No No No 4 No 2 1
Libya No No No No 1 No No
Madagascar No No No 2 1 1 No
Malawi 1 2 No 11 2 No No
Mali No No No 2 No No No
Mauritania No No No 2 No No No
Mauritius No No No 9 No 8 No
Morocco No No No 3 No No No
Mozambique No No No 16 5 2 No
Namibia No 1 No 6 No 1 No
Niger 3 No No 1 No No No
Nigeria 2 No No 6 No 1 No
Republic of the Congo No No No 3 No 1 No
Rwanda No No No 6 No 2 No
Sao Tome and Principe No No No 4 2 1 No
Senegal No No No 4 2 1 No
Seychelles 1 No No 21 1 7 No
Sierra Leone 1 No No 1 No 6 No
Somalia No No No 6 1 No No
South Africa 3 2 No 11 5 No No
South Sudan 1 No No 17 3 3 No
Sudan No No No 13 4 5 No
Swaziland No No No 14 1 6 No
Tanzania No No No 2 No 1 No
Togo No No No 5 No 1 No
Tunisia No No No 1 2 2 1
Uganda 3 1 No 26 No 1 No
Zambia No No No 11 No 5 No
Zimbabwe 5 5 No 23 5 2 No

 

Conclusion and recommendations

Although countries with more textual guarantees do not necessarily have better levels of food security, making hunger protections more explicit would approximate African constitutional drafts to UN global development directives regarding the contemporary agenda on hunger eradication. An interesting case to highlight  is Djibouti, a country with almost none textual constitutional guarantees in terms of health protection in general, nor protection against hunger in particular, but which nevertheless has presented an astonishing progress on hunger eradication from 1990 to 2015 (FAO 2015b). Why was it an extreme case of success if its 1992 national constitution provides little textual guarantees against hunger? Further empirical research should tackle this puzzling question. However, does it mean that constitutional guarantees are useless or even a threat to the subjects they were designed to protect? We do not think so. In fact, we believe that countries with high shares of populations suffering from hunger, and which provide constitutional guarantees against hunger, are a grave indication of fragile systems of law enforcement. In such countries, the urgent recommendation is to examine the roots of their failing legal enforcement processes. In general, it seems plausible that solely adding further textual premises of protection against hunger will not advance the agenda of hunger eradication in Africa. New empirical studies should focus on the variation of patterns on hunger reproduction and hunger eradication among African countries. Comprehending the roots of such variations could enlighten original strategies to tackle hunger through law and policy shifts.

In terms of regional constitutional integration, the African continent is more disjointed than integrated across national provisions of guarantees against hunger. Maybe the existence of infra-constitutional legislations counterbalances the lack of a common regional approach to constitutional guarantees among African countries. Complementary research on infra-national policies and legislations on combatting hunger in Africa would thus be an advantageous approach to the limitations of the current study.

 

Note: This study was financed in part by the Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior – Brasil (CAPES) – Finance Code 001.

References

African Banjul Charter on Human and People’s Rights (1981)

African Charter on The Rights and Welfare of the Child (1990)

Ahlers, T., Kato, H., Kohli, H. S., Madavo, C., and Sood, A. (2014). Africa 2050: Realizing the Continent’s Full Potential, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Barret, C. B. (2014). Assisting the escape from persistent ultra-poverty in rural Africa, in Falcon, W. P. and Naylor, R. L. (eds.) Frontiers in Food Policy: Perspectives on sub-Saharan Africa, Stanford: Stanford University Press.

Bobbio, N. (1997). Il positivismo giuridico: Lezioni di filosofia del diritto, Torino: Giappichelli.

Castro, J.  (1969). The Black Book of Hunger, Boston: Beacon Press.

FAO (2015a). 70 Years of FAO (1945-2015), Rome: FAO Publications.

FAO (2011). Constitutional and Legal Protection of the Right to Food around the World, Rome: FAO Publications.

FAO (2015b). Regional overview of food insecurity: African food insecurity prospects brighter than ever, Accra: FAO Publications.

FAO (1996). Rome Declaration on World Food Security, Rome: FAO Publications.

Hart, H. L. A. (2012). The Concept of Law. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Kelsen, H. (1967). Pure Theory of Law. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Mansfield, E. D. and Pevenhouse, J. C. (2006). Democratization and International Organizations, in International Organization, 60(1), 137-167.

Müller, F. (2009). Juristiche Methodik: Grundlegung für die Arbeitsmethoden der Rechtspraxis, Band I, Berlin: Duncker & Humblot.

UN (2015). Millennium Development Goals Report, New York: United Nations Documents.

UN (1974). Universal Declaration on the Eradication of Hunger and Malnutrition, New York: United Nations Documents.

UN (2015). Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, New York: United Nations Documents.

UN (2000). United Nations Millennium Declaration: Resolution adopted by the General Assembly. New York: United Nations documents.

Ziegler, J. (2011). Destruction Massive : Géopolitique de la faim. Paris: Seuil.

 

 

List of constitutions (by year/last amendment included):

Constitution de la République Algérienne Démocratique et Populaire (1989)  http://www.premier-ministre.gov.dz/ressources/front/files/pdf/texts-fondamentaux/constit-1989-fr.pdf (consulted on 2017-03-30)

Constituição da República de Angola (2010) http://www.tribunalconstitucional.ao/uploads/%7B9555c635-8d7c-4ea1-b7f9-0cd33d08ea40%7D.pdf (consulted on 2017-03-30)

Constitution de la République du Bénin (1990 – 2004) http://democratie.francophonie.org/IMG/pdf/Benin.pdf (consulted on 2017-03-30)

Constitution of Botswana (1966 – 2006) http://www.wipo.int/wipolex/en/text.jsp?file_id=226973 (consulted on 2017-03-30)

Constitution de la République du Burkina Faso (1991 – 2012) http://www.wipo.int/edocs/lexdocs/laws/fr/bf/bf017fr.pdf (consulted on 2017-03-30)

Constitution de la République du Burundi (2005) http://www.assemblee.bi/Constitution-de-la-Republique-du (consulted on 2017-03-30)

Constitution de la République du Cameroun (1972-2008) http://www.minsep.cm/uploads/media/CONSTITUTION_du_Cameroun-1996_et_2008.pdf (consulted on 2017-03-30)

Constituição da República de Cabo Verde (1980-2010) http://extwprlegs1.fao.org/docs/pdf/cvi117271.pdf (consulted on 2017-03-30)

Constitution de la République Centrafricaince adoptée par le Conseil National de Transition (2015) http://www.sangonet.com/afriqg/PAFF/Dic/actuC/ActuC19/projet-constitution-RCA-adopte-par-CNT-2015.pdf (consulted on 2017-03-30)

Constitution de la République du Tchad (1996-2005) http://www.wipo.int/wipolex/fr/text.jsp?file_id=200559 (consulted on 2017-03-30)

Constitution Comorienne (2001-2009) http://www.wipo.int/wipolex/en/text.jsp?file_id=208360 (consulted on 2017-03-30)

Constitution de la République de Côte d’Ivoire (2000-2004) http://democratie.francophonie.org/IMG/pdf/Cote_d_Ivoire.pdf (consulted on 2017-03-30)

Constitution de la Répulique Démocratique du Congo (2005-2011) http://www.wipo.int/edocs/lexdocs/laws/fr/cd/cd001fr.pdf (consulted on 2017-03-30)

Constitution de l’État de Djibouti (1992-2010) http://www.wipo.int/edocs/lexdocs/laws/fr/dj/dj002fr.pdf (consulted on 2017-03-30)

Constitution of the Arab Republic of Egypt (2014) https://www.constituteproject.org/constitution/Egypt_2014.pdf (consulted on 2017-03-30)

Constitution de la République de Guinée Équatoriale (1995) http://democratie.francophonie.org/IMG/pdf/Guinee_equatoriale.pdf (consulted on 2017-03-30)

Constitution of Eritrea (1997) http://www.ilo.org/wcmsp5/groups/public/—ed_protect/—protrav/—ilo_aids/documents/legaldocument/wcms_126648.pdf (consulted on 2017-03-30)

Constitution of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia (1994) http://www.wipo.int/edocs/lexdocs/laws/en/et/et007en.pdf (consulted on 2017-03-30)

Constitution de la République Gabonaise (1991-2003) http://democratie.francophonie.org/IMG/pdf/Gabon.pdf (consulted on 2017-03-30)

Constitution of The Republic of The Gambia (1996-2001) http://www.wipo.int/wipolex/en/text.jsp?file_id=221242 (consulted on 2017-03-30)

Constitution of The Republic of Ghana (1992-1996) http://www.ghana.gov.gh/images/documents/constitution_ghana.pdf (consulted on 2017-03-30)

Constitution de la République de Guinée (2010) http://mjp.univ-perp.fr/constit/gn2010.htm (consulted on 2017-03-30)

Constituição da República da Guiné-Bissau (1984-1996) http://www.anpguinebissau.org/leis/constituicao/constituicaoguine.pdf (consulted on 2017-03-30)

Constitution of Kenya (2010) http://www.klrc.go.ke/index.php/constitution-of-kenya (consulted on 2017-03-30)

Constitution of the Kingdom of Lesotho (1993-1998) http://www.wipo.int/wipolex/en/text.jsp?file_id=216171 (consulted on 2017-03-30)

Constitution of the Republic of Liberia (1986) http://www.wipo.int/wipolex/en/text.jsp?file_id=207595 (consulted on 2017-03-30)

Constitution of Libya (2011-2012) https://www.constituteproject.org/constitution/Libya_2012.pdf?lang=en (consulted on 2017-03-30)

Constitution de la République de Madagascar (2010) https://www.ilo.org/dyn/natlex/docs/ELECTRONIC/87885/100324/F1780692018/Madagascar,%20Constitution%20de%20la%20IVe%20Republique%202010.pdf (consulted on 2017-03-30)

Constitution of The Republic of Malawi (1994-1999) http://www.ilo.org/dyn/natlex/docs/ELECTRONIC/40069/90473/F1019822909/MWI40069.pdf (consulted on 2017-03-30)

Constitution de la République du Mali (1992) http://unpan1.un.org/intradoc/groups/public/documents/cafrad/unpan002746.pdf (consulted on 2017-03-30)

Constitution de la République Islamique de Mauritanie (1991-2012) http://extwprlegs1.fao.org/docs/pdf/mau135226F.pdf (consulted on 2017-03-30)

Constitution of Mauritius (1968-2011) http://www.wipo.int/wipolex/en/text.jsp?file_id=189309 (consulted on 2017-03-30)

Constitution du Royaume du Maroc (2011) http://www.ilo.org/wcmsp5/groups/public/—ed_protect/—protrav/—ilo_aids/documents/legaldocument/wcms_127076.pdf (consulted on 2017-03-30)

Constituição da República de Moçambique (2004-2007) http://cjcplp.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/constituicao_rep_mocanbique.pdf (consulted on 2017-03-30)

Constitution of The Republic of Namibia (1990) http://www.nshr.org.na/downloadfiles/constitution/pdf/NamCon.pdf (consulted on 2017-03-30)

Constitution de la République du Niger (2010)http://cour-constitutionnelle-niger.org/documents/constitution_7eme_rep.pdf (consulted on 2017-03-30)

Constitution of The Federal Republic of Nigeria (1999) http://www.nigeria-law.org/ConstitutionOfTheFederalRepublicOfNigeria.htm (consulted on 2017-03-30)

Constitution de la République du Congo (2015) http://www.ilo.org/wcmsp5/groups/public/—ed_protect/—protrav/—ilo_aids/documents/legaldocument/wcms_126939.pdf (consulted on 2017-03-30)

Constitution of The Republic of Rwanda (2003-2010) https://www.ilo.org/dyn/natlex/docs/ELECTRONIC/64236/90478/F238686952/RWA64236.pdf (consulted on 2017-03-30)

Constituição da República Democrática de São Tomé e Príncipe (1975-1990) http://www2.camara.leg.br/saotomeeprincipe/constituicao/constituicao-da-republica-democratica-de-s.tome-e (consulted on 2017-03-30)

Constitution de la République du Sénégal (2001-2009) http://democratie.francophonie.org/IMG/pdf/Senegal.pdf (consulted on 2017-03-30)

Constitution of The Republic of Seychelles (1993-2011) http://www.ilo.org/wcmsp5/groups/public/—ed_protect/—protrav/—ilo_aids/documents/legaldocument/wcms_127610.pdf (consulted on 2017-03-30)

Constitution of The Republic of Sierra Leone (1991-1996) http://www.sierra-leone.org/Laws/constitution1991.pdf (consulted on 2017-03-30)

Constitution of The Federal Republic of Somalia (2012) http://hrlibrary.umn.edu/research/Somalia-Constitution2012.pdf (consulted on 2017-03-30)

Constitution of The Republic of South Africa (1996-2013) http://www.constitutionalcourt.org.za/site/theconstitution/english-2013.pdf (consulted on 2017-03-30)

Constitution of The Republic of South Sudan (2011) https://www.ilo.org/dyn/natlex/docs/MONOGRAPH/90704/116697/F762589088/SSD90704%202011C.pdf (consulted on 2017-03-30)

Constitution of The Republic of The Sudan (2005) http://www.wipo.int/edocs/lexdocs/laws/en/sd/sd003en.pdf (consulted on 2017-03-30)

Constitution of the Kingdom of Swaziland (2005) http://www.wipo.int/wipolex/en/text.jsp?file_id=217889 (consulted on 2017-03-30)

Constitution of The United Republic of Tanzania (1977-2005) http://www.judiciary.go.tz/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/constitution.pdf (consulted on 2017-03-30)

Constitution de la République du Togo (1992-2007) http://www.ilo.org/dyn/natlex/docs/ELECTRONIC/38025/110367/F-1481961433/TGO-38025%20(VERSION%20CONSOLIDEE).pdf (consulted on 2017-03-30)

Constitution de la République Tunisienne (2014) http://www.legislation.tn/sites/default/files/news/constitution-b-a-t.pdf (consulted on 2017-03-30)

Constitution of The Republic of Uganda (1995-2000) http://www.statehouse.go.ug/sites/default/files/attachments/Constitution_1995.pdf (consulted on 2017-03-30)

Constitution of The Republic of Zambia (1991-2016) http://www.parliament.gov.zm/sites/default/files/documents/amendment_act/Constitution%20of%20Zambia%20%20%28Amendment%29%2C%202016-Act%20No.%202_0.pdf (consulted on 2017-03-30)

Constitution of The Republic of Zimbabwe (2013) http://www.parlzim.gov.zw/images/documents/Constitution-of-Zimbabwe-Amendment_No_20_-_14-05-2013.pdf (consulted on 2017-03-30)

[1] For example, in Constitution of The Republic of Rwanda (2003-2010), 2003 corresponds to the year of adoption of the referred constitution, and 2010 corresponds to the last year of amendments we consider in the analysis.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *