UN agency honors Tutu as champion against hunger

By U.N. News Service staff
Posted Jan 26, 2012

[U.N. News Service] The United Nations World Food Program (WFP) Jan. 26 is honoring Nobel Peace Prize laureate and activist Desmond Tutu, archbishop emeritus of Cape Town, South Africa, for his efforts in the battle against hunger and his advocacy on behalf of the world’s most vulnerable people.

“I can think of no more worthy individual as a recipient of this honor, than a man who has confronted tyranny and defended the weak and the hungry, armed with nothing but the strength of his faith and the unwavering belief in upholding the rights of the oppressed,” said WFP Executive Director Josette Sheeran.

WFP will present its Global Champion Against Hunger award to Tutu during a dinner at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, on Jan. 26.

The archbishop has been a “staunch advocate” for universal human rights, including the right to food, as well as the rights to clean water, shelter, hygiene, sanitation and health care, the agency noted in a news release.

“There are some problems so big and so entrenched it is easy to believe they will never be solved. Hunger is one of these problems,” Tutu said last year. “Yet a lifetime of experience has taught me that there is no problem so great it cannot be solved, no injustice so deeply entrenched it cannot be overcome. And that includes hunger.”

Tutu is the fourth recipient of the Global Champion Against Hunger award, whose past recipients include former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, and Peter Bakker, former CEO of global logistics company TNT and WFP Ambassador Against Hunger.

During the dinner, WFP will also launch its commemoration of 50 years as the UN’s front-line agency in the fight against hunger.

In a related development, the U.N. expert on the right to food, Olivier De Schutter urged ministers gathered in Davos to acknowledge the relationship between globalization and human rights, saying that “globalization should serve human rights and sustainable development, rather than being a process blind to its impacts on the individuals affected.”

Referring to the theme of this year’s forum, “The Great Transformation,” the expert stated in a news release that the real great transformation must go beyond rectifying the imbalances in developed world debt to gross domestic product (GDP) ratios.

“We must finally pay attention to the wider imbalances that are the symptoms of unfettered globalization. All around the world people have fallen foul of economic processes that consign whole regions to abandonment or degradation and trap whole population groups in perpetual poverty,” said Mr. De Schutter, who reports to the U.N. Human Rights Council in an independent and unpaid capacity.