Human Rights and World Trade: Hunger in International Society

By Ana Gonzalez-Pelaez | Go to book overview
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International trade and the options for eradicating hunger

The previous chapter showed how the connection between international trade and hunger (via poverty) has been widely acknowledged in international society. Several steps, especially in the normative arena, have been taken. However, despite the various commitments, the problem of hunger persists and the way to eradicate it is highly contested. This chapter assesses competing options that have been formulated. It draws on the analysis of hunger provided in Chapter 1 and the actions taken by international society discussed in Chapter 3. The focus is on how the international dimension of poverty is linked to the global trading system generally and to agricultural trade in particular. International trade and poverty are connected by the principles of availability of food for purchase and individual capacity to afford it, both of which have a direct impact on hunger. Within the global market, agricultural trade has a significant impact on economic growth in developing countries, and its dynamics affect the way in which food is produced, distributed and priced.

There are three options available for handling the trading leg of the hunger-poverty-trade triangle: maintain the current liberal trading system, keep the existing system while introducing reforms within it, and bring about a radical change in the system. After analysing them I will identify the one that corresponds best with Vincent's claims for reforms in the economic structure.

Behind the three options stand the main currents of thought on the international political economy. The chapter begins by introducing the liberal theory of international trade. The next three sections spell out the options identified above. Each section is divided into two parts: 'description', which collects the arguments underpinning each option, and 'assessment', which evaluates the viability of each option. This chapter analyses the practical viability of subsistence as a basic right to be supported by international society, and prepares the ground for the overall conclusion on the implications of Vincent's project to introduce basic rights into the society of states.


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