A Common Sense Approach to the Right to Food
te Lintelo, Dolf
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Despite growing activism around the right to food in the past decade, there has been little exploration of how people understand the right and its implications. This article analyses original research that explored how people at risk of hunger understood the right to food in diverse settings in Africa, Asia and Latin America, in the aftermath of the global food crisis of 2008. The article explores understandings of the term in different contexts, its various sources and origins, and how responsibilities for upholding it were defined and allocated. It concludes that an understanding of the right to food as natural and necessary appears to be ‘common sense’: shared across contexts and groups, and part of how people negotiate their right to food in everyday life. Yet the content, origins and allocation of responsibilities for realizing the right to food also seemed to be more closely shaped by local realities than by universalist human rights or legal frameworks. Nonetheless, the view that the state was responsible for protecting citizens’ right to food in the last resort resonated across contexts that were otherwise marked by greatly differing histories and state capacities for realizing the right to food. The paper explores some of the implications of this ‘common sense’ view for right to food activism and implementation.