Report of the Special Rapporteur on the right to food, Jean Ziegler


Communications sent to Governments and other actors and replies received**


* The present document, which carries the symbol number of the fourth session of the Human Rights Council, is scheduled for consideration by the fifth session of the Council.

** The present document is being circulated as received, in the languages of submission only, as it greatly exceeds the word limitations currently imposed by the relevant General Assembly resolutions.


1. In the context of his mandate, the Special Rapporteur on the right to food receives a large number of communications alleging violations of the right to food and related rights worldwide. Such communications are received from national, regional and international non-governmental organizations, as well as intergovernmental organizations and other United Nations procedures concerned with the protection of human rights. This addendum to the report of the Special Rapporteur contains, on a country-by-country basis, summaries of communications, including urgent appeals, allegation letters, government replies and follow-up relating to the Special Rapporteur’s mandate for the period 16 December 2005 to 1 December 2006. The Special Rapporteur urges all Governments and other actors who have not yet done so to respond promptly to his communications and, in appropriate cases, to investigate allegations of the violation of the right to food and related rights and to take all steps necessary to redress the situation.





Communication sent

37. On 5 April 2006 the Special Rapporteur wrote to the Government concerning allegations of a looming humanitarian crisis which the Palestinian residents of the Gaza Strip were facing as a result of the Israeli authorities’ prolonged closure of the Karni/al Muntar crossing between the Gaza Strip and Israel, which is the commercial crossing for goods imported and exported from Israel. The information received claimed that the closure of the Karni crossing for most of the time since the beginning of 2006 has resulted in shortages of food and other necessities and required rationing of bread, and threatened to have serious effects on access to the right to food and a livelihood of the 1.3 million Palestinians who live in the Gaza Strip. The Karni crossing was partially opened for only eight days since 22 February 2006 and, despite the partial reopening of the crossing for imports on 20 March 2006, which allowed supplies of wheat, flour, oil, rice, dairy produce, cattle and certain types of fresh fruit to enter the Gaza Strip, there were increasing shortages of basic essential supplies, such as flour, and food reserves were gradually being depleted. It was reported that most of the bakeries across the Gaza Strip had to close down. As of 23 March 2006, the Karni crossing had been closed for 46 days since the beginning of the year. In addition, no Palestinian exports were permitted, which continued to have a detrimental impact on the local Palestinian economy. The inability to export local agricultural products at the height of the harvest season reportedly led to hundreds of tonnes of tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers and strawberries going to waste. The Palestine Economic Development Company operating the greenhouses in the former settlement areas estimated that the total amount of crops donated/destroyed due to the closures of the Karni crossing reached approximately 973 tonnes, with a value of some US$ 5.2 million. Total export losses for both agricultural and non-perishable items were estimated at US$ 500,000 per day, or more than US$ 23 million in 2006. Israeli producers were also negatively affected by the Karni closures, citing losses of NIS 15 million per day. Kerem Shalom had been declared open since 21 March 2006 for the receipt of humanitarian supplies from Egypt and six truckloads of humanitarian assistance had reportedly arrived in the Gaza Strip as of 23 March 2006. But the much smaller capacity of the Kerem Shalom crossing gave rise to concerns that it would not be able to deal with the large quantities and volumes of relief supplies expected at the border. Notwithstanding the entitlement of the Government to take measures to protect the lives of its citizens, the Special Rapporteur believes that the protracted closures of the Karni crossing have contributed to depriving Palestinian residents of the Gaza Strip of their usual access to food and a livelihood, thus contributing to a violation of the governmental obligation to respect the right to food. In addition, as the relevant authorities have failed to facilitate the provision of that right directly by, inter alia, ensuring the passage and delivery of relief supplies, the Government appears to be in violation of its obligation to fulfil the right to food.