April 24, 2017
After 26 years being a state party to ICESCR, Nepal ratified international commitments for ensuring the right to food of its citizens, guaranteeing the right to food as a fundamental human right under Article 36 in the Constitution in 2015.The constitution mandated the government of Nepal to enact the legal frameworks around this right by 2018. To this end, the Nepal Law Commission (NLC) has initiated the drafting of theRight to Food Bill. A preliminary draft was published on February 10, 2017 for wider consultation among concerned stakeholders.
In the past, Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), led by FIAN Nepal, have collectively created pressure and played a supportive role to ensure the right to food as a ‘Fundamental Right’ in the Interim as well as the 2015 Constitution. Similarly, FIAN Nepal, jointly with the working group of CSOs, is providing continuous contributions for the enactment of an effective legal framework for the Right to Food’. The draft bill contains some strong provisions for which FIAN Nepal has been lobbying since a long time. However, it was felt that a wider consultation among the concerned stakeholders on the draft bill was necessary. The Nepal Law Commission (NLC) has also requested FIAN Nepal to reach out to grassroots level stakeholders in all provinces for further improvements on the draft bill. Using this opportunity, FIAN Nepal in collaboration with the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has taken the preliminary draft bill to the grassroots level, running provincial consultation workshops in Nepalgunj, Dhangadhi, Pokhara and Biratngar along with one national workshop in Kathmandu involving communities, CSOs, political parties, journalists, government officials and other concerned stakeholders. Similarly, National Network for Right to Food (RtFN) has conducted a consultation workshop on the draft bill in Mahottari district. Participants in the workshops offered comments and suggestions on the preliminary draft. Having collected their suggestions and feedback, FIAN Nepal compiled the essential comments and prepared a three-column suggestion paper (Teen Mahale), submitting it to the Nepal Law Commission on behalf of civil society organizations on April 23, 2017.
After receiving the suggestion paper, the Chairperson of NLC, Mr. Madhav Paudel, commented that the “CSOs’ suggestions on the bill will be an important reference for the commission in the future during finalization of the bill before being tabled in the parliament for enactment. This paper is the property of the Nepal Law Commission and will be incorporated as far as practical”. He further thanked all participating CSOs for the effort made to improve the draft bill. Vice-chairperson of the NLC and the Co-ordinator of the Right to Food Bill Mr. Bhesh Raj Sharma said that a final consultation workshop with CSOs will be organized before the bill goes to Parliament.
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