Disability, Access to Food and the UN CRPD: Navigating Discourses of Human Rights in the Netherlands

Open Access Journal | ISSN: 2183-2803

Article | Open Access

Disability, Access to Food and the UN CRPD: Navigating Discourses of Human Rights in the Netherlands


  • Mitzi Waltz Disability Studies in Nederland, The Netherlands / Athena Institute, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, The Netherlands
  • Tanja Mol Disability Studies in Nederland, The Netherlands / Amsterdam Public Health Institute, VU University Medical Center, The Netherlands
  • Elinor Gittins Disability Studies in Nederland, The Netherlands
  • Alice Schippers Disability Studies in Nederland, The Netherlands / Department of Medical Humanities, VU University Medical Center, The Netherlands


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Abstract:  In 2016, the Netherlands ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD), one of the last developed nations to do so. In this article, we explore how equal access to food provides a lens through which barriers to implementing a rights-based approach to disability equality can be examined in countries that are historically resistant to such discourses. Through a literature review, policy research, and interviews with disabled people, representatives of disabled people’s organisations, Dutch legal scholars, food researchers, and foodbanks, we have explored barriers to equal food access in the Netherlands, and current approaches to overcoming social, economic and physical barriers. Our analysis indicates that implementation of the UN CRPD and other relevant international and EU policies continues to be limited in the Netherlands due to narrow interpretations, leading to policies and practices that do not foster equal access to resources and environments. Dutch understandings of disability equality are evolving, but encounter opposition from an entrenched system of separation and resistance to mandating change, including a reluctance to even collect data about inequality. From this basis, we identify knowledge gaps and make recommendations for steps the Netherlands could take to ensure equal access to food.

Keywords:  accessibility; disability; economic rights; food; human rights; social rights

Published:   26 March 2018


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DOI: https://doi.org/10.17645/si.v6i1.1160


© Mitzi Waltz, Tanja Mol, Elinor Gittins, Alice Schippers. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.