Food Rights and U.S. Policy in the 1990s
A position paper arguing that the Clinton Administration’s refusal to recognize a ‘right to food’ is entirely inconsistent with its recognition of economic and social rights.
`Among various scholars? enumerations of particular human rights, the fundamental rights listed may be classified as either political and civil rights or economic and social rights. Political and civil rights are negative rights, which are typically satisfied by the mere absence of constraint or harm. In contrast, economic and social rights are positive rights, which constitute an affirmative claim to certain goods and services in society. Human rights have traditionally been considered, by definition, those rights that are universal in nature. Justifying economic and social rights has been problematic because not all goods are attainable. The provision of many economic and social goods is dependent upon a society’s production possibilities, which in many nations are too inadequate to provide for basic needs, and therefore deny the universal possibility of fulfilling such rights. However, consideration of the duties and obligations of actors in a global economy reveal that economic and social rights are, in fact, justified. Mr. Bush and Mr. Reagan’s terming of such rights as mere `goals` or `objectives` should not be restored; the Clinton Administration’s termination, by policy, of the distinction between economic and social rights and political and civil rights represents a moral movement forward. However, the Clinton Administration’s refusal to recognize a `right to food` is entirely inconsistent with its recognition of economic and social rights. `