food security, food system crisis, supply chains, international food law, food law frameworks, international food movement, United Nations Food and Agricultrue Organization (FAO), World Health Organization (WHO), Covid-19

Document Type



This article advocates the need for a history of the development of modern international food law and suggests an analytical approach to complement the chronicling of events. Comprehension of this history will help elucidate the evolution of a complicated modern global food system, including its resiliency and vulnerability as demonstrated by Covid-19, thereby providing valuable context for change in the system where needed. This essay makes the case for such a history in three parts. First, it briefly demonstrates the need for a historical perspective through a critical examination of a journal article that speaks to Covid-19 food security in a historical context. Second, it suggests possible legal frameworks for historical analysis, including the tensions and convergence between these frameworks. Third, it presents a perspective on how to contextualize this history as well as ensure its relevancy to important contemporary and future issues, including resiliency, public health, and sustainability. For example, one consideration is that the development of international food law is as much about paths not taken as paths taken, which in turn may open discussion today about alternative paths for future governance in the global food system.