Reclaiming the Right to Food as a Normative Response to the Global Food Crisis

19 Pages Posted: 30 Jan 2011 Last revised: 21 Apr 2015

See all articles by Smita Narula

Smita Narula

Elisabeth Haub School of Law at Pace University

Date Written: January 2011


The number of hungry in the world has crossed the one billion mark, a dubious milestone that has been attributed in large part to consecutive food and economic crises. Over ninety-eight percent of these individuals live in the developing world. Ironically, a great majority are involved in food production as small-scale independent food producers or agricultural laborers. These facts and figures signal a definitive blow to efforts to reduce global hunger and lift the world’s poorest from abject and dehumanizing poverty. They also bring to light the deep imbalance of power in a fundamentally flawed food system. This Comment explores both the urgency and paucity of the “right to food” as a legal and normative framework for addressing the current food crisis. It begins with an articulation of the contours and limits of the right to food under international human rights law. It then explores how powerful states, international financial institutions, and transnational corporations affect the right to food globally. The Comment concludes by addressing particular doctrinal challenges that are essential to reclaiming the right to food as a relevant normative framework under economic globalization.

Keywords: Right to Food, Global Food Crisis, Transnational Corporations, International Human Rights Law, International Financial Institutions, Agriculture, Food Policy, WTO, Trade Liberalization, Agribusiness

JEL Classification: A13, F02, F23, F33, F34, I32, K33, N5, N50, O1, O13, O19, Q00, Q1, Q13, Q15, Q17, Q18

Suggested Citation

Narula, Smita, Reclaiming the Right to Food as a Normative Response to the Global Food Crisis (January 2011). Yale Human Rights and Development Law Journal, Vol. 13, p. 403, 2010, NYU School of Law, Public Law Research Paper No. 11-10, Available at SSRN:

Smita Narula (Contact Author)

Elisabeth Haub School of Law at Pace University

78 North Broadway
White Plains, NY 10603
United States
10603 (Fax)

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