Hunger Games: Connecting the Right to Food and Competition Law

44 Pages Posted: 4 Jul 2019

See all articles by Ioannis Lianos

Ioannis Lianos

University College London - Faculty of Laws

Amber Darr

University of Manchester; University College London - Faculty of Laws

Date Written: June 1, 2019


This paper explores the interaction between the right to food and competition law. Although the actual or potential impact of human rights rhetoric informing and empowering competition law enforcement has not yet been examined in depth, we believe that the right to food may provide context and content to competition law and thereby guide its enforcement. We believe that an in-depth analysis of competition policy issues in the food sector may provide a blueprint for conceptualizing competition law not only as an instrument for achieving economic efficiency, innovation, and/or consumer welfare, but also as a sophisticated tool to ensure the fulfilment of the institutional conditions necessary for the realization of the aims of the right to food. Competition law may become an instrument to address the structural inequality that follows the development of a concentrated food system, characterized by the presence of global food value chains controlled by lead firms, which puts some economic actors, such as the farmers of the developing world, in a position of permanent disadvantage. It is our view that not only does the implementation of the right to food stand to benefit from the market-centered approach promoted by competition law, but also that competition law itself will become a more “holistic” and meaningful tool for social reform by taking into account values inherent in the right to food. We provide the grammar of a holistic competition policy in this crucial sector for national and global economies and we dissect the actual and potential impact of the right to food rhetoric on competition law enforcement.

Keywords: right to food, food value chains, competition law, economic concentration, IP rights, International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, right to health

JEL Classification: K21, L40, Q13

Suggested Citation

Lianos, Ioannis and Darr, Amber, Hunger Games: Connecting the Right to Food and Competition Law (June 1, 2019). Available at SSRN: or

Ioannis Lianos (Contact Author)

University College London - Faculty of Laws ( email )

United Kingdom

Amber Darr

University of Manchester ( email )

Oxford Road
Manchester, N/A M13 9PL
United Kingdom

University College London - Faculty of Laws ( email )

Gower St
London WC1E OEG, WC1E 6BT
United Kingdom

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