Apart from his gushing praise of Syria, and the origins of his dictator-driven mandate, here are other key facts that UN Human Rights Council hunger expert Olivier De Schutter and his supporters didn’t want Canadians to know this week:
1. Contrary to what the Toronto Star’s David Olive reported, De Schutter does not speak for the UN. As an independent expert of the UN Human Rights Council, holding a mandate initiated by Cuba and other tyrannies, he reports to the council but speaks only for himself. As High Commissioner Pillay confirmed to me in a letter, “special procedures mandate-holders are neither representatives nor employees of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights”; instead they serve “in their independent capacities.”
2. Major UN voices — those who actually do serious work — reject the Cuban-created, politicized “right to food” mandate of the Human Rights Council, first held by Jean Ziegler, and now De Schutter.
3. Though it never said so in public, Wikileaks revealed that the World Food Program privately informed Kofi Annan that De Schutter’s predecessor engaged in “profoundly immoral” politics which harms millions of starving people.
4. Likewise, leading international authorities reject De Schutter’s ideologically extreme policy prescriptions, especially those against trade. As noted by WTO chief Pascal Lamy, experts fundamentally disagree with De Schutter’s assertion that countries need to limit reliance on international trade to achieve food security objectives.
5. On the contrary, most UN-led experts agree that international trade is part of the package of solutions to achieve food security. The UN High Level Task Force on the Global Food Security Crisis in their 2010 Updated Comprehensive Framework for Action noted that “more liberalized international markets would contribute to global food and nutrition security through increased trade volumes and access to diverse sources of food imports.” (“Updated Comprehensive Framework for Action”, United Nations High Level Task Force on Global Food Security Crisis, September 2010, paragraph 76.)
6. In addition, the G-20’s inter-agency report rejected De Schutter’s simplistic anti-trade approach by affirming that “trade is an essential component of any food security strategy.” They also found that De Schutter-like policies “that distort production and trade in agricultural commodities potentially impede the achievement of long run food security.”.(“Price Volatility in Food and Agricultural Markets: Policy Responses”, Policy Report including contributions by FAO, IFAD, IMF,OECD, UNCTAD, WFP, the World Bank, the WTO, IFPRI and the UN HLTF, 2 June 2011, page 23.)
When even the UN thinks you’re way off, you must be really, really way off. And for a guy who thinks Canada is a world food priority, he is.