International Trade and Food Security

International Trade and Food Security

Exploring Collective Food Security in Asia

NUS Centre for International Law series

Edited by Michael Ewing-Chow and Melanie Vilarasau Slade

Food security is one of the greatest challenges of our time. Through a collection of commissioned studies, which draw upon the experience of leading experts and scholars in trade, investment, law, economics, and food policy, this book assesses whether self-sufficiency is an adequate response to the food security challenges we face

Chapter 10: Is there a role for international law in supporting systemic solutions to the food security challenge?

Melanie Vilarasau Slade

Subjects: law - academic, asian law, international economic law, trade law, public international law


The role of international law – and in particular international economic law – in supporting food security is a source of division and controversy. It is criticized both for leaving inadequate domestic policy space for the implementation of effective food security policies and for failing to effectively constrain governments to put these policies in place. Trade and investment law in particular are seen variously as the problem and the potential solution to many of the food security challenges we face. Given this, it is interesting to note that, of the many of the international initiatives that have taken place since the 2008 food crisis, few if any advocate significant reform of international law beyond trade reform envisaged in 2001. To explore this apparent contradiction further, this chapter aims to outline the principal international initiatives in the field of food security, identify areas of proposed reform where collaborative solutions are required and encourage discussion of the limitations and potential for international law to support a systemic approach to food security.

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