A Narrowly Focused Thought

Focused thoughtFood for a narrowly focused thought
Human Rights Reader 418
By Claudio Schuftan

IN A WORLD DOMINATED BY MARKETS, WHERE RESOURCES FLOW TOWARD POWER INSTEAD OF NEED, WHAT WOULD HAPPEN IF WE REALLY CARED MORE ABOUT HUNGER AND MALNUTRITION FROM A RIGHT TO NUTRITION PERSPECTIVE? (Brooke Aksnes)

The current malnutrition problem around the world is not its double burden, but its multiple burdens.

By narrowly focusing on the greater appeal of reducing hunger what do we risk?

For the hungry, there is no such thing as just a hard and dry loaf of bread. (Maria Duenias)

By narrowly focusing on hunger, we risk solely or chiefly focusing on increasing dietary energy supply/consumption. But, beware, this will not adequately address the more complex challenges that fulfilling the right to nutrition brings about. To live up to these challenges cannot be made to mean following a number of silver-bullet interventions to achieve them. Why? Because any list of selected interventions risks being reduced to a simplistic shopping list from which one can choose according to ad-hoc preferences. So, how can it be assured that the human rights (HR) principles and standards are woven into the right to nutrition? For this, we need to start a true transformative process in order to de-block some of the block-ins that obstruct change in our system and that have been allowed to grow over the past 50 years.(i) Take the high level UN panels set up to deal with the topic: they have separated the political issues from the technical ones in an effort to build a purported ‘common and shared understanding’ –but where is this leading us to?.(ii) (Biraj Partnaik)

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Don’t Get Disempowered!

Don't Get Disempowered!How a Human Rights Movement gets disempowered?
By Sunil Babu Pant, Blue Diamond Society

Activists from the ‘global south’ hear, far too often, from our donors that we should ‘Learn how to become professional, make your NGO management efficient’.

Let’s decode what “becoming professional” means and what “efficient management means”:

1) Professional means a person engaged or qualified in a profession. ‘Profession’ is the key word here, and donors would like to make sure that you become a ‘professional’ activist, and want to see you taking it (human rights work) as a profession.

2) Efficient management means performing or functioning in the best possible manner with the least waste of time and effort. For conventional NGOs this means achieving targets, writing professional reports and submitting it in a timely manner. To really understand the “danger” of becoming efficient, you must compare it with effectiveness. Being effective is about doing the right things, while being efficient is about doing things right (no matter how far you have moved away from human rights ‘activism’ to be part of an efficient management team).

As soon as a well-meaning group of activists start the process of becoming a NGO, the problem begins. No matter what is said at the outset about the ‘NGOs being free to act the way they have envisioned’, the truth is that the NGOs are deeply indebted by donors, well-funded NGOs are even worse. This is start of a ‘professional’ submission to a system that repeatedly dis-empowers and controls the movement, denies the freedom of a human rights movement to do what it is supposed to do, all slogans of ‘grassroots-led and empowerment’ not-upheld.

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