This chapter focuses on hunger and famine. Chronic hunger, famine, and malnutrition are related concepts with different causes. Multiple forms of malnutrition coexisting in most countries require governing bodies to carefully design policies which consider linkages among different types of malnutrition. While 'food security' is still a popular framework to guide the interventions of development agencies and governments, other concepts help us to focus on different underlying causes of hunger. The Green Revolution helped increase global food security in some respects but made many populations more vulnerable. Meanwhile, the entitlement approach helped clarify the cause of famine in some circumstances, but recent famines are mostly a consequence of war and the choices made by governments. Famine mortality has declined dramatically, in large part because of better monitoring and more effective humanitarian assistance. However, acute hunger remains a massive problem.
5. Hunger and Famine
Tim Allen, Shun-Nan Chiang, and Ben Crow
Theory in Practice: Making Human Rights Claims in a Human Rights Way
This chapter explores the material bases of struggles for human rights that helped shape human rights norms. It highlights the importance of context to illustrate how human rights have been violated. Arguments on human rights politics typically revolve around the notion of cultural relativism and universalism. Cultural relativism refers to the ethics developed within a particular social context; thus, there could be no moral or ethical framework that could apply in all contexts. The chapter lists some human rights struggles, such as the activism of a labour rights organization, rights as entitlements, and making a rights claim. It suggests how public discussion can bring change if there is a transformation in power inequalities, which is often necessary to have aforementioned public discussions.
This chapter focuses on libertarianism and its main assumptions. According to libertarians, people have a right to dispose freely of their goods and services, and that they have this right whether or not it is the best way to ensure productivity. Put another way, government has no right to interfere in the market, even in order to increase efficiency. The chapter begins with a discussion of the diversity of right-wing political theory, with particular emphasis on Robert Nozick’s entitlement theory of justice and his intuitive argument. It then considers the idea of a right to liberty and the contractarian idea of mutual advantage, along with Nozick’s principle of ‘self-ownership’. The chapter concludes with an analysis of the politics of libertarianism, taking into account its rejection of the principle of rectifying unequal circumstances, even as it shares with liberal equality a commitment to the principle of respect for people’s choices.
2. Feminist and Activist Approaches to Human Rights
This chapter explores the theoretical and political history of human rights that emerges out of the struggles that have been waged by feminists and other non-elites. It first considers the bases for the moral legitimacy of human rights and challenges to those arguments before discussing three aspects of feminist approaches to human rights: their criticism of some aspects of the theory and practice of human rights, their rights claims, and their conceptual contributions to a theory of human rights. It then examines the ways in which feminists and other activists for marginalized groups have used human rights in their struggles and how such struggles have in turn shaped human rights theory. It also analyses theoretical and historical objections to the universality of human rights based on cultural relativism. Finally, it shows that women’s rights advocates want rights enjoyment and not merely entitlements.