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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter November 16, 2019

“Feeding the Hungry, Quenching the thirsty”: Shaping the Rights to Food and Water in Disaster Settings through Humanitarian Standards

Emanuele Sommario EMAIL logo , Francesca Spagnuolo and Mariagrazia Alabrese
From the journal Global Jurist


Natural and technological disasters have the potential to severely undermine the capacity of States to comply with their human rights obligations. Among the most vital rights of disaster victims are the rights to food and water, encapsulated in the Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. In this article, the scope of State obligations under international human rights law to secure sufficient amounts of adequate food and water in disaster settings is explored. After assessing if and to what extent the exercise of such rights can be restricted in the wake of a major disaster, the focus of the analysis shifts to the core content of State obligations, which are explored in the light of commonly accepted humanitarian standards. Lastly, the relationship between the obligation to ensure access to a minimum essential amount of food and water and the non-derogable right to life is examined.


The paper has been jointly conceived and structured. However, Emanuele Sommario drafted paragraphs 1, 2 and 6, Mariagrazia Alabrese drafted paragraph 3, and Francesca Spagnuolo drafted paragraphs 4 and 5. We are grateful to the anonymous reviewers for going through the manuscript in detail and providing very helpful comments.

Published Online: 2019-11-16

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