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Swiss food expert slams US and UN

Jean Ziegler points the finger at Washington and the UN

(Keystone)

The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Jean Ziegler, says the war on terrorism is a threat to the fight against hunger around the world.

The Swiss expert criticised the international community and the United States for failing to get their priorities right.

Speaking at UN headquarters in New York, Ziegler said the number of seriously undernourished men, women and children was increasing despite the Millennium Development Goals.

UN member states have pledged to reduce worldwide hunger by half within the next ten years.

The comments echoed statements Ziegler made in the Swiss city of Geneva two weeks ago.

Failure

The international community was incapable of providing enough food to fight hunger, Ziegler said on Friday.

But at the same time military spending for the first time exceeded $1 trillion (SFr1.3 trillion) last year, he added.

Ziegler said the World Food Programme, which ensures the survival of millions of people daily, faced budget cuts of 30 per cent in 2004.

He concluded that the UN was therefore indirectly responsible for preventing malnourishment.

Reaction

The US and Britain dismissed Ziegler's comments at the UN General Assembly.

They accused the special rapporteur of fostering terrorism with his statements and of being a stooge of non-governmental organisations.

However, China agreed with Ziegler and accused the US, the world's biggest weapons producer, of playing a major part in failing to fight hunger.

The Chinese representative said the war on terrorism was wrong and inefficient, and only served the interests of US companies.

swissinfo with agencies

Key facts

Ziegler is a former professor of social science and economics at the universities of Geneva and the Sorbonne in Paris.
He was a prominent member of the Swiss parliament until June 1991.
He was appointed UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food in 2000.

end of infobox

In brief

The UN report says the number of gravely undernourished people rose to 852 million last year, ten million more than in 2003.

The World Food Programme was faced with a 30% budget cut in 2004.

The trade in weapons for the first time reached $1 trillion (SFr1.3 trillion) last year.

end of infobox


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