Max Planck Institute for Comparative Public Law and International Law Logo Max Planck Institute for Comparative Public Law and International Law

You are here: Research Research Areas Public International Law International food aid administrations

International Food Security Law: Legal Structures and Challenges of the United Nations (UN) World Food Programme (WFP) (working title)

The PhD is committed to reconstructing the WFP within a public international administrative law framework. Worldwide, there is enough nutritious food produced to provide everyone with sufficient amounts of it, but the food distribution does not yet avert hunger and malnutrition. There are currently around 795 million people worldwide who are undernourished and micronutrient malnutrition causes around 3.1 million annual deaths globally of children younger than five years. International food security is the term conceptualizing these challenges. From an ethical perspective, hunger and malnutrition are inacceptable phenomena. International public law in its specific normativity takes up such claims. Against this backdrop, what is the institutional structure already responding to this normative standpoint? International obligations to provide sufficient amounts of nutritious foods become especially critical in emergency settings, and are then by and large uncontested. This insight allows formulating the research question more precisely: What is the existing international institutional structure averting hunger and malnutrition in emergency settings? Consequently, the thesis will particularly focus on the UN WFP within a wider international institutional setting, because the WFP is at its core mandated with operationalizing food provisions in emergency settings.

The thesis aims at a systematized presentation of the law governing international food security, and a doctrinal reconstruction of WFP operations. First, the institutional development and political thought of the field of international food security will be recounted. Second, the thesis will proceed to restate the fragmented and widespread positive law on international food security in a systematic fashion as a backdrop to the analysis. The focus of the thesis will rest on the WFP mandate connecting the WFP to the wider field of international food security and distinguishing the particular institution from other relevant actors. As a third step, the main administrative instruments of the WFP will be extracted: (1) project design or planning, (2) the procurement decision, and (3) the field level agreements with local implementing partners. Fourth, selected accountability issues will be addressed. In conclusion, potentials for institutional improvements will be discussed.

The thesis will familiarize international public lawyers to the WFP as a UN institution within the wider field of international food security. Given the relevance of food security on the international political agenda (see e.g. UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 2), this is a timely contribution. Doctrinal reconstruction can translate key aspects of international food security into legal thought. At least one selected case study will potentially complete this picture for the sake of illustrating the arguments.


PhD candidate

Supervisor