The Committee on World Food Security: Politics under threat

Jessica Duncan, Lambek Nadia, Priscilla Claeys

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


The reform of the UN’s Committee on World Food Security (CFS) in 2009 was widely regarded as a key moment in the re-organization of global food security governance processes. This was due to the implementation of a novel approach to participation of “stakeholders”, and an explicit commitment to advancing human rights and prioritizing the voices of those most affected by hunger and food insecurity. The reformed CFS is part of a broader architecture of global food security governance that is increasingly anti-political: that is, it is increasingly organized in ways that minimise, avoid, or conceal the relations of power and conflictual dimensions inherent to complex and normative policy processes and reflective of the antagonisms inherent in human society. Through the reform process, we argue that the CFS has emerged as a forum where politics can, and do, play out. To arrive at this conclusion, in this chapter we introduce a critical political analytic framework before introducing the reform of the CFS. We review the CFS’s six reform roles and introduce the CFS negotiation process as an example of political practice. We then examine three challenges that threaten to depoliticise the CFS. These include: (1) changes in qualifications for participants that have resulted in a rebalancing of participation between the private sector and civil society; (2) a shift away from plenary negotiations to intersessional negotiations; and, (3) changes in the role of human rights at the CFS. The chapter concludes by making a case for supporting the CFS as a political committee.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationUn monde sans faim? Gouverner la sécurité alimentaire au 21e siècle
Place of PublicationParis
PublisherPresses de Sciences-Po, Paris
Pages(in press)
Volume(in press)
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 15 Dec 2017


  • food security, global governance, participation, policy, Committee on World Food Security, politics, anti-politics

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