Academic journal article Denver Journal of International Law and Policy

In the Name of Food Security: The Achievements and Failures of Developing Countries in the Bali Ministerial Conference

Academic journal article Denver Journal of International Law and Policy

In the Name of Food Security: The Achievements and Failures of Developing Countries in the Bali Ministerial Conference

Article excerpt


According to the 2013 estimate of the Food and Agriculture Organization, 842 million people suffered from chronic hunger in 2011-2013. (1) In other words, approximately one out of every eight people in the world is undernourished. Developing countries account for most of these people, 827 million in total. (2) The international community is highly aware of the famine and numerous international organizations, including the World Trade Organization ("WTO"), exert efforts to solve the problem from their perspective. According to the preamble of the Marrakesh Agreement Establishing the World Trade Organization ("WTO Agreement"), trade is not an end in itself but rather a means of "raising standards of living." (3) Furthermore, members of the WTO noted nontrade concerns in the preamble of the Agreement on Agriculture ("AoA"), including:

   food security and the need to protect the environment; having
   regard to the agreement that special and differential treatment for
   developing countries is an integral element of the negotiations,
   and taking into account the possible negative effects of the
   implementation of the reform programme on least-developed and net
   food-importing developing countries. (4)

In addition, Article 20 of the AoA emphasizes that there is much to accomplish to complete the reform of agricultural trade, which considers food security. (5) These provisions show that the WTO considers food security essential in the trade legal system, especially in developing countries. Additional attention on food security in liberalizing the trade of foodstuffs can be assumed.

The Doha Development Agenda ("DDA") was established to provide a framework to avoid the negative effects of free trade on food security in developing countries. (6) However, fruitless and endless negotiations cause the objective of the DDA to seem more an illusion than a possibility. The setback of the "draft modalities" (7) in 2008 rendered the DDA even further from achieving its aim. In 2013, the opportunity to complete the DDA reemerged in the Bali Ministerial Conference. After five days of intensive discussions, the ministers of members adopted the decisions known as the "Bali Package," which was a result of the United States trading food security proposals for the Agreement on Trade Facilitation. (8) The decisions concerning agriculture primarily followed the draft proposed by developing countries. (9) In other words, the Bali declaration and decisions concerning agriculture considered more needs of developing countries than those of developed countries.

This study assesses the extent of which the Bali Package can ensure food security in developing countries. Part II presents a discussion on the policy options for developing countries to ensure food security. The discussion focuses on the adverse effect on other developing countries and attempts to determine the policies that contribute to food security at the global level. Part III presents an analysis the implication of the WTO rules on food security and identifies the concerns of developing countries. Part IV presents an examination of the improvement that the Bali Package can contribute to the food security in developing countries and the world. A preliminary observation of whether developing countries have achieved food security in trade is provided in the conclusion.


Determining the needs of developing countries for achieving food security is difficult because of two reasons. First, the concept of food security has evolved constantly in previous decades, reflecting the changes in the considerations for food security, which involves more than mere famine. (10) An effective strategy for food security should solve numerous concerns such as those of hunger, economic development, and the environment. Prioritizing all the various concerns of food security might be difficult for developing countries. …

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