12 Jun 2012
Food Security as Business of Business: The 'Ruggie Framework' and Beyond
Christine Kaufmann - University of Zurich Society of International Economic Law (SIEL), 3rd Biennial Global Conference
On-going discussions on food security as both an element of the right to food and a goal for agricultural policy focus on the situation of the respective rights holders and the corresponding duty-bearers, i.e. individuals and the state. Yet, the coincidence of the recent food crisis and the financial crisis revealed a substantial analytical lack in addressing the impact of the business sector on food security. So far, only limited research has been undertaken to understand how the private sector addresses situations where the public policies may not adequately take into account individual rights such as the right to have access to food. Moreover, the new “Protect, respect and remedy” framework (“Ruggie Framework”) adopted by the UN Human Rights Council in 2008 and the respective Guidelines of 2011 raises the question to what extent states have an obligation to ensure responsible corporate behaviour.
This paper contributes to the discussion on implementing the Ruggie framework in a trade context by adding a third layer of analysis to the existing focus on the individual as the holder of the right to food security and the state as the bearer of the corresponding duties both under human rights and international trade law. It will explore the role of business in acting as an intermediary between the individual, micro-level and public policy at the macro-level.
As a result, the paper proposes a comprehensive three-dimensional approach towards the implementation of food security that goes beyond the Ruggie framework.
Three proposals to overcome existing regulatory deficits and research gaps are submitted: (1) a need for analysing motivation and dynamics at the meso-level (business), (2) improving regulatory procedures by mainstreaming the Protect, Respect and Remedy Framework into business-related policies and regulations and (3) improving regulatory substance by including findings from meso-level analysis in the substance of regulations.