Institutional innovation in international governance to end hunger

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How can economic policies, development assistance, and especially trade policies be redefined to respond to the food insecure? First, food security is not only a national, but a global issue that inevitably involves economic and political interdependence. Efforts to deny this interdependence, and to nationalize food and agricultural policies, have resulted in inefficient and distorted "go it alone" responses to the food problem. These policies are driven by a fear of global market forces, and a somewhat justified sense that LDCs are their victims. International institutions should thus not only increase the effeciency of the global food distribution system but also its fairness and justice. A fair or just distribution of food is central to dealing directly with the poor, and providing an underpinning for a world system based not only on economic logic but also on the logic of civil society. Only if participants in the international market economy believe they have a fair opportunity for success will they become stakeholders in market institutions, including global trade liberalization. How should institutions be restructured to meet these objectives? Such a redefinition has three dimensions, one horizontal, one vertical, and one psychological. The horizontal dimension involves the breadth or reach of global institutions, their coverage of issues such as food production and trade and related issues of environment, health, and the conservation of scarce resources such as soil and water. The vertical dimension turns on the authority and control that international institutions and organizations exercise in relation to national governments and local authorities. These, too, are issues not only of efficiency but also of justice, and go to the heart of debates over national sovereignty, local self-reliance, and the definition of development as freedom. Third, institutional reform, especially directed at food security, must come squarely to terms with the meaning of security itself, in which confidence about future prospects offers the assurance of economic and social opportunity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)839-844
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican Journal of Agricultural Economics
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2002


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