This article considers the effectiveness of rights-based approaches to the problem of world hunger. Given that inadequate food supply may be the result of complex, structural problems outside the control of particular staes and authorities, can advocacy based on the right to food significantly improve world food security? To answer this question, this article considers one particular structural factor which contributes to world hunger, namely the operation of the international economic system. It concludes that, at both a theoretical and a practical level, human rights discourse is ill-suited to achieve the fundamental structural change to this system necessary t improve food security. This represents a significant limitation on the effectiveness of the right to food. As a result, an alternative legal approach is suggested, namely using a legal principle of ‘food sovereignty’ to ensure that the international system as a whole operates to support the food needs of its population.
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