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UN Special Rapporteur Calls on the US to Take “urgent action” on Racial Injustice in the Food System

At the invitation of the Federal Government (instigated by persistent advocacy from civil society organizations), the Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism Ms. Ashwini K.P. came to the United States in early November on a fact-finding mission.

During her 14-day visit, the National Right to Food Community of Practice and the Human Rights Clinic of the University of Miami School of Law organized two in-person meetings (see photos) and one virtual consultation with the Special Rapporteur during her visit in order to underscore the critical intersection of race in the U.S. food system as a human rights issue.

On November 3, Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism Ms. Ashwini was hosted by Malik Yakini and the Detroit Black Community Food Sovereignty in Detroit, Michigan.

On November 5th, more than 50 BIPOC organizers, advocates, community leaders and allies gathered virtually with the Special Rapporteur to share stories of struggle and collective action. Approximately 35 people provided brief oral and written testimonies of their experiences of racial injustice as Indigenous People working towards food sovereignty; as farmers and fishers seeking to protect land and waterways for food production; as refugee farmers and migrant workers all along the food chain; as communities facing chronic food insecurity and food apartheid; and as those living in colonized U.S. territories defending their land from corporate capture. A brief summary of recommendations that emerged from the testimonies was shared with Ms. Ashwini immediately following the consultation. The Human Rights Clinic of the University of Miami’s School of Law is preparing a more detailed and thorough summary report that will be available in the coming months. (Watch this blog for that report!)

On November 1st, Ms. Ashwani was greeted by Tambra Stevenson of WANDA at the town hall meeting in Washington D.C.

The Special Rapporteur Ms. Ashwini just this week filed her end-of-visit report that included a brief series of initial recommendations to the U.S. Government about issues of persistent systemic racism and intersecting forms of discrimination. Among her recommendations, she addressed systemic racism in the food system.

“I recommend that the Government,” the Special Rapporteur wrote, “takes urgent action to address racially discriminatory food systems and their impact, including racial inequities in food insecurity. Such measures should include the adoption of a rights-based national plan to end hunger, based on meaningful participation with the most affected communities.”

The Special Rapporteur Ms. Ashwini K.P. will submit a formal report to the 56th session of the Human Rights Council in June 2024 detailing her concerns and recommendations to the United States Government based on her site visit to the U.S. Stay tuned for further updates!


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