MJIEL Vol 14 Issue 1 2017 - Article 4
World Hunger, the ‘Global’ Food Crisis and (International) Law
Anna Chadwick
ABSTRACT: The global food crisis 2007-11 has been described by the UN Human Rights Committee as a failure of national and international policies to ensure access to food for all. Another influential camp attributes the crisis to another kind of failure – market failure. This article seeks to qualify these prevalent views on two principal grounds. First, the tendency to ascribe the predicament of hungry peoples to failure – of policy, markets, or both – distracts from the fact that commodity markets were working in this same period for the benefit of other actors in the global economy. Second, the focus on policy elides the equally important role that law has played in this context. Legal solutions are highly visible in debates on how to tackle hunger. Less visible are the ways in which legal regimes have entrenched the same conditions of poverty and precarity to which legal remedies are now offered in response. The article argues that not only must the global legal order be understood as a producer of hunger in the world, but that bodies of law that constitute the global food system may present the greatest obstacle to efforts by the international community to eradicate it.

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