Thursday, January 29, 2015

Access to Food in Developing Nations

The Disparate Impact of Human Rights Laws, Free Trade and 'TRIPS'
By Nicole Romano
Nicole Romano is a graduate of Albany Law School, class of 2014. She received her undergraduate degree from Stony Brook University in Political Science with an emphasis in law government. While in law school, Nicole earned a concentration in Estate Planning. Her extra-circular activities included working as Senior Editor for International Law Studies, Pro-Bono work with the Elder Law and Tax Law Societies, and a semester in the Litigation Clinic.
She is currently working for a boutique law firm in the Greater NYC area specializing in wills and estates, asset protection and business succession planning. She is also an active member of the New York State Bar Association and currently holds a position on the Executive Committee for the Young Lawyers Section.
This paper was prepared for Prof. Halewood’s International Trade Law class.

There is undoubtedly a clear disparity between the increase in free trade, which is supposed to promote general welfare, and its actual effect of increasing poverty and hunger.  Not only is there a disparity within free trade theory itself, it can be argued that international trade law was also created to incorporate human rights law to prevent this exact epidemic from occurring.

This disparity of trade liberalization and human rights, specifically with increasing famine, can be attributed to the Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property (TRIPS) and its role in patent rights on agriculture. Private industries in the US were concerned about foreign protection of patents and the weak IP policies costing them billions of dollars per year. It was the private industry leaders of developed countries being directed to devise a plan to protect IP rights against developing nations. This resulted in developing nations working under a set of rules geared to promoting the needs of the former.

Private industry has been a major player in creating the resulting disparity between human rights law and trade law. Developing countries have been at the mercy of transnational corporations (TNC) that control food access in these areas. While these corporations control the majority of global trade, they have no obligations under international law to ensure the well being of citizens because international laws are typically only binding on State actors. This means that despite TNC’s heavy social and economic impact on developing nations, private corporations are not obligated to ensure that citizens are provided with an adequate standard of living or access to food.
To read the paper, open HERE.