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Digitization Update - World Food Conference

Thursday 15 October 2020

Topics: Digital Collections

In the early 1970s, as the world faced a severe food crisis, the UN General Assembly, pursuant to recommendations by the 17th Conference of the Food and Agriculture Organization, decided to convene a World Food Conference by adopting resolution 3180(XXVIII) on 17 December 1973.

The World Food Conference was held in Rome from 5 to 16 November 1974 and attended by representatives of 133 states, 15 Agencies, Funds and Programmes, six national liberation movements, 26 intergovernmental organizations, and observers from 161 international and national non-governmental organizations. The Conference recognized that the persistent problem of famine and hunger had reached an unprecedented scale and urgency, and that it could only be dealt with by concerted world-wide action.

The Conference had an ambitious agenda and the documents of the conference provide an in-depth view into the world food situation at the time. The summaries of meetings and draft resolutions show the passion brought to the table by the conference participants and the strong desire of the global community to end hunger.

The Conference adopted the "Universal Declaration on the Eradication of Hunger and Malnutrition" (included in the Conference Report), which stressed that “[e]very man, woman and child has the inalienable right to be free from hunger and malnutrition in order to develop fully and maintain their physical and mental faculties”.  The declaration concluded with an urgent call to action that still rings true today in light of increased food insecurity brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic: “Time is short. Urgent and sustained action is vital. The Conference, therefore, calls upon all peoples expressing their will as individuals, and through their Governments, and non-governmental organizations, to work together to bring about the end of the age-old scourge of hunger.”

The Dag Hammarskjöld Library has now digitized the complete documentation of the Conference, which can be accessed online in the UN Digital Library. This collection of 156 documents includes, among others, the conference report, NGO statements, draft resolutions and reports.

For more information about the 1974 World Food Conference, please consult the UN Yearbook, 1974, Chapter XII: Questions relating to Food Problems.