(CNSNews.com) – The Democrats’ “Green New Deal” proposal is praiseworthy but does not go far enough, the U.N.’s “right to food” expert said in an article posted Friday – one day after she was accused of ignoring the severe food crisis in Venezuela.
Hilal Elver, a U.S.-based Turkish academic appointed by the U.N. Human Rights Council (HRC) in 2014 as “special rapporteur on the right to food,” said the Democratic initiative would be the first major U.S. effort “to address the threat of climate change as dynamic, multi-dimensional, and ubiquitous, and for that alone, it deserves praise.”
However, she added that the Green New Deal (GND) proposal – which critics view as aggressively radical, even socialist – “falls far short.”
(The article, posted on Elver’s website, was attributed to the “SR [special rapporteur] Food Team,” which she heads.)
In it, she took the GND to task for using what she sees as insufficiently robust language.
“[T]he Green New Deal is correct to suggest that the United States has a duty to secure ‘healthy food’ for all,” the article said. “But even more than that, the United States has an obligation to ensure that all populations have unrestricted physical and economic access to a sufficient quantity of nutritionally diverse, safe, culturally appropriate food.”
The article said the U.S. government “must stop promoting policies and practices that perpetuate income inequality, a racial wealth divide, reliance on fossil fuels, and industrialized agriculture.”
“The fact that food insecurity, malnutrition, water and air pollution are rampant in certain parts of the United States, disproportionately impacting the most vulnerable populations, indicates that the United States is not upholding its human rights obligations even within its own borders.”
‘Two sides’ to the Venezuelan conflict
As Elver and her team evaluate the situation in the United States, in Venezuela the “global acute malnutrition” rate has passed the 10 percent threshold used to U.N. agencies to constitute a serious food crisis.
Elver appeared before the HRC in Geneva on Thursday to present her annual report, and was challenged about Venezuela.
Hillel Neuer, executive director of the non-governmental organization U.N. Watch, asked her why it was that “out of 11,058 words [in the report], there is not one, not one word, for the millions of Venezuelans who can’t get enough to eat?”
He noted that, of the nine country visits she has made since taking up her mandate, not one was to Venezuela.
“If your mandate is to defend hungry people, why have you refused to write a report, or call for an urgent debate, or a commission of inquiry for families who are now forced to adopt emergency strategies of the kind used during famine in war-torn countries?” Neuer asked.
“Are you not aware that 34 percent of people in Venezuela are either selling assets to buy food, eat from garbage bins, or sending a child to beg for food?”
Later, Elver responded that her office had requested permission to visit Venezuela but received no response.
“Special rapporteurs cannot go anywhere if the governments are not cooperating,” she said.
Elver said an inability to visit did not mean her office was not doing anything.
“Actually, we are doing a lot of investigation but the issue is too complicated,” she said. “There are two sides of this conflict – as usual in many other conflicts – and we want to be objective rather than geopolitical interest.”
Elver’s 2014 appointment to the “right to food” post – an initiative created after a proposal by Cuba’s Castro regime in 2000 – was not without controversy, due to earlier comments and writings critical of Israel, the U.S. response to 9/11, and other issues.
At the time the U.S. Mission in Geneva issued a “media note” expressing “concern.”
“Ms. Elver’s lack of relevant experience in this area [‘the right to food’] raises questions about her readiness for this assignment,” it said. “In addition, several of Ms. Elver’s previous publications include biased and inflammatory views regarding the United States and the state of Israel.”
Canada’s government of the day also objected to Elver’s nomination, with then-Foreign Minister John Baird saying in a letter to the HRC that “her public record clearly demonstrates abysmal judgment.”
Baird noted, for example, that Elver had accused Israel of “genocide” and “water apartheid.”
Elver, a research professor at the University of California Santa Barbara, is the spouse of Princeton international law scholar Richard Falk, who from 2008-2014 served in another of the HRC’s special rapporteur posts, in his case focusing on “human rights in the occupied Palestinian territories.”
Falk’s has himself drawn flak for views suggesting an “apparent cover up” over the 9/11 terror attacks, and arguing that the Boston Marathon bombing was an understandable consequence the “American global domination project,” as well as harsh condemnation of Israel.