The Right to Food and the World Trade Organization's Rules on Agriculture

Conflicting, Compatible, or Complementary?


In The Right to Food and the World Trade Organization’s Rules on Agriculture: Conflicting, Compatible, or Complementary?, Rhonda Ferguson explores the relationship between the human right to food and agricultural trade rules. She questions whether States can adhere to their obligations under both regimes simultaneously. These two regimes are frequently portrayed to be in tension with one another. The content and contours of the right to food under international human rights law and WTO rules on domestic supports, export subsidies, and market access are considered through the lens of norm conflict theories. The analysis is situated within the context of the debate surrounding the fragmentation of international law.
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Biographical Note

Rhonda Ferguson, Ph.D (2017) Irish Centre for Human Rights at the National University of Ireland Galway, is currently a visiting postdoctoral fellow at the Jack & Mae Nathanson Centre on Transnational Human Rights, Crime and Security at York University.

Table of contents

Acknowledgements Table of Cases List of Abbreviations 1 Introduction  1.1 Rationale  1.2 Methodology  1.3 Structure 2 The Fragmentation of International Law; the World Trade Organization and International Human Rights Regimes  2.1 Introduction  2.2 What is Fragmentation?  2.3 Characteristics of a Fragmented International Legal Order  2.4 Regimes of Relevance  2.5 Conclusion 3 Conflict of Norms in International Law; Theories and Practice  3.1 Introduction to Conflict of Norms  3.2 Defining Parameters  3.3 To Whom are Obligations Owed, and Why does it Matter to Norm Conflict Theories and Resolution Techniques?  3.4 Apparent Versus Genuine Conflicts  3.5 Problematizing the Presumption Against Conflict  3.6 Defining Conflict of Norms  3.7 Conflict Resolution; the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties and Techniques  3.8 Conclusion 4 The Human Right to Adequate Food and Corresponding Obligations  4.1 Introduction to the Right to Adequate Food  4.2 The Right to Food as an Economic, Social, and Cultural Right  4.3 Key Formal Source in International Law: ICESCR  4.4 Notes on the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and General Comment 12  4.5 Collective Responsibility  4.6 Concepts Related to the Right to Food  4.7 Conclusion 5 Market Access  5.1 Introduction to Market Accessibility  5.2 Market Access in the Multilateral Trade System; Divergent Opinions  5.3 Market Access Provisions Under the Agreement on Agriculture  5.4 Are the Elements of a Conflict of Norms Present Between the Right to Food and Market Access Provisions?  5.5 Conclusion 6 Domestic and Export Subsidies  6.1 Introduction to Subsidies in the World Trade Regime  6.2 Agricultural Subsidies and the Right to Food  6.3 Subsidy Provisions Under the Agreement on Agriculture  6.4 Are the Elements of a Conflict of Norms Present Between the Right to Food and the Subsidies Provisions?  6.5 Conclusion 7 Locating Entryways for the Right to Food in wto Agricultural Trade Rules; Are Backdoor Exceptions and Unilateral Conditions Enough to Transform the Relationship into one of Complementarity?  7.1 Introduction  7.2 The gatt Exceptions  7.3 gsp  7.4 Transforming Agricultural Production and Trade  7.5 Conclusion 8 Conclusion  8.1 Neither Conflict nor Compatibility  8.2 Limitations of the Research and Looking Forward Bibliography Index


This book is for students, scholars and practitioners of international human rights law, particularly socio-economic rights, and international trade law. It is also for those interested in the issues of food security, trade agreements, and norm conflict in international law.