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KINT 4765 - Global Hunger

Type d'enseignement : Lecture alone

Semester : Spring 2017-2018

Number of hours : 39

Language of tuition : English

Voir les plans de cours et bibliographies



Course Description

Why are almost one billion people hungry in a world in which increases in agricultural production have consistently outstripped demographic growth ? The objective of the course is to understand how governments have sought to combat hunger and malnutrition ; why they have so dramatically failed ; and how law and governance are relevant to what can be done about this. The course shall build on the issues addressed in the mandate of the lecturer as the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right to food between 2008 and 2014, and now as Co-Chair of the International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food Systems (IPES-Food). It will be closely connected to contemporary discussions at international level (see We will discuss a range of topics linked in particular to the impacts of globalization on the right to food, including international trade, investment in agriculture, the role of transnational corporations in the agrifood sector, and intellectual property rights in agriculture ; we will also address the threat of climate change to food security and the debate on the shift to sustainable agriculture ; as well as the role of institutional mechanisms aimed at protecting the right to adequate food and the recent reform of global governance of food security. While the focus will be on hunger and undernourishment in developing countries, the seminar will also address the impacts on the South of policies in the North (in the areas of agriculture, intellectual property rights, trade and investment, and food aid). The course shall be of interest to students working on the links between law and development and on the challenge posed to governance by economic globalization ; it can also be seen as a case study on the challenges facing the implementation of a particular human right, the right to adequate food ; finally, it will provide an entry point into the United Nations system and into the relationships between the United Nations agencies and other organizations such as the World Trade Organization or the international financial institutions. Many of the topics addressed are highly politicized and polemical. The course will serve to confront diverse viewpoints, and it will seek to provide the students with the tools he or she needs to form his or her own opinion. Although the approach combines law and economics, as the aim of the seminar is to understand the legal and institutional factors in the political economy of food systems, no background in economics is required, and none of the readings suggested use formalized language.


  • BOUAYAD, Aurelien (Teaching assistant)
  • DE SCHUTTER, Olivier (Professor, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right to food)

Pedagogical format

The course will consist in a combination of lectures introducing each topic, and class discussions taking the questions prepared by the students as a departure point.

Course validation

Class participation and preparation on the basis of the assigned readings (50%). Reform proposal (50%).


Students are expected to prepare each session by going through the readings assigned, so as to enable them to take part in class discussions.

Required reading

The readings are listed in the outline of the course

Plans de cours et bibliographies