50th Anniversary of
the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
The 1998 Open Call
for Human Rights and Nutritional Well Being for All
in the XXI Century
3rd International Well Being and Reconciliation Symposium
From Welfare to Well Being in the XXI Century:
Duties, Rights and New Values for the Next Millennium.
"Get the Best from Your Food"
25-27 September 1998
Carloforte, Sardinia, Italy
The International Community has repeatedly stressed:
"Hunger and malnutrition are unacceptable in a world that has both the knowledge and the resources to end this human catastrophe" and "We consider it intolerable that more that 800 million people throughout the world... do not have enough food to eat to meet their basic nutritional needs."
As a group of concerned individuals, we issue this Open Call to all others who would join in giving life to these commitments. When we become serious about refusing to accept the unacceptable and not tolerating the intolerable, we can make an enormous difference in the lives of the poor and malnourished around the world.
We met from September 25-27, 1998 in Carloforte, Sardinia (Italy) for the Third International Well Being Symposium "From Welfare to Well Being in the XXI Century." In attendance at this meeting were national officials, political leaders, representatives of UN agencies and organizations, teachers and trainers, journalists, and experts and artists in various fields coming from all six continents: Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia and the Americas.
The primary challenge before us is to close the gap between the "haves" and the "have-nots" of the world, to reconcile the rich and the poor, and to reach out to those who have been excluded from social justice and left behind in the march toward economic prosperity.
Poverty and social discrimination continue to haunt thousands of millions of people, as it is reported in The Human Development Report 1998 by the United Nations Development Programme, in virtually all countries of the world; they constrain people's hopes and ambitions, and all too often condemn them to a life of inequality, malnutrition and poor health, injustice and indignity, a loss of their Rights and, often, their very lives.
We call attention to Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states "Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services,..."; we underline the new WHO-endorsed definition of "health" that stresses it as "a dynamic state of complete physical, mental, spiritual and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity"; and we underscore the Recommendations and Plans of Action of the 1990 World Children Summit in New York, the 1992 International Conference on Nutrition in Rome, the 1992 Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio, the 1995 International Conference on Women in Beijing, the 1995 World Summit on Social Development in Copenhagen, and the 1996 World Food Summit in Rome.
We are particularly concerned about the potential for further deterioration in nutritional well-being in many parts of the world brought on by new and continuing civil conflicts, natural disasters, the disruptions in national economies and the global economic environment, and the continuing disregard for Human Rights, particularly the Right to nutritionally adequate and safe food.
We acknowledge the good progress made in many countries and communities in improving the nutritional well-being of their populations. In many countries, food production and availability have kept up with population growth, educational opportunities and literacy rates especially among women have improved, access to clean water and health care has expanded, national economies have grown and jobs have been created. However, even in light of this, we are dismayed at the slow and uneven progress made in many areas. In large parts of Africa and south Asia, in particular, hunger and chronic undernutrition are still the daily reality facing much of the population. Problems of seasonal and temporary food insecurity and of monotonous nutrient-deficient diets affect large segments of the population. Concurrently, overconsumption and the associated problems of obesity and non-communicable diseases are increasing as major public health problems among many populations throughout the world where average life expectancy has increased.
While recognising that governments, at all levels, have particular obligations and responsibilities for protecting and promoting Human Rights and nutritional well-being, we are convinced that real and lasting change can only come about through the concerted action of all segments of civil society. Individuals, community organizations, the private sector, religious establishments, academic and research institutions, farmers, teachers, women's groups, visual and performing artists, writers, and both the rich and the poor have essential roles to play to bring about the local and global changes needed to make nutritional well-being for all a reality.
One of the greatest constraints to this challenge is the lack of awareness and mutual understanding among various cultural, ethnic, and socio-economic groups, and the resulting indifference and animosity this often generates. It is all too easy to ignore the plight of those we do not know and from whom we are far removed. It is much more difficult to dismiss those with whom we establish a human connection - through physical contact, through shared experiences, through art, or through time and space as occurs in a world of global communications.
Making the human connections needed for establishing effective partnerships across countries and disciplines is now possible to a degree rarely imagined in history.
The explosion of global tele-communications networks, including the Internet, increased the capacity for us to be aware of the conditions of people in diverse and remote parts of the world has never been greater. And with that awareness comes both the opportunities to effect and participate in change well beyond our local confines.
To that end we invite you to join with us in exploring how best we can capitalise on the opportunities before us for increasing international understanding and awareness and for stimulating appropriate action.
In particular we invite you to work with us and provide comments and suggestions on these activities we are considering and hoping to implement:
to create an International Well Being Programme of Service that would provide opportunities for students and young people to understand on a first hand basis, and bring back to their own communities, what life is like in a different culture. This Programme would also encourage the proper use of Internet to foster multicultural understand among peoples in different communities and social setting;
the establishment, on-line, of the International Journal of Nutritional Well Being, a scientific, peer-reviewed publication covering varied aspects offood, cultures, nutritional well-being, and promoting community-basededucational programmes such as the FAO initiative "Get the best from your food";
the establishment of a World Art Bank in Goree, Senegal, which will link art with the development of nutritional well-being educational programmes. Sale of art pieces could provide income for unknown artists and could also raise money to be put into development community-based projects. Bringing the artistic richness of many local talents to a wider audience can enhance both artist and audience. Supporting the artistic communities in both developed and developing countries into the fight for Human Rights and and nutritional well-being.
Made in Carloforte, San Pietro Island, September 27, 1998.