Annual T.M.C. Asser Lecture 2023

 8th Annual T.M.C. Asser Lecture: ‘The right to food, violence, and food systems’ by Michael Fakhri


The 8th Annual T.M.C. Asser Lecture titled ‘The right to food, violence, and food systems’ was delivered by Michael Fakhri, UN Rapporteur on Food, in the Academy Hall, Peace Palace, The Hague. During the lecture, he examined forms of violence in food systems, to allow for a better understanding of how food systems operate and to reframe how the right to food is addressed in international law.

Michael Fakhri explained that violence and armed conflict are the main causes of hunger and famine, and they lead to more food insecurity. He outlined a way out, drawing on his work as Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food and his report to the Human Rights Council. He described how food systems not only produce food but also amplify and produce forms of violence that make people more poor, vulnerable, and marginalised. He also talked about how food systems rely on a global economy of dependency and extractivism, which causes widespread human rights violations. Michael Fakhri addressed the war in Ukraine to highlight how international markets amplify rather than abate violence, creating global shocks from a regional war.

Watch the lecture

About Michael Fakhri
Mr. Michael Fakhri, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food since 2020, is a professor at the University of Oregon School of Law where he teaches courses on human rights, food law, development, and commercial law. He is also the director of the Food Resiliency Project. He investigates key environmental and policy issues relating to all stages of the food system, including production, transportation, packaging and consumption. Mr. Fakhri has taught courses on the right to food at Harvard Law School, European University Institute, and the University of Arizona Indigenous Governance Program. He has lectured on international human rights and development topics at universities around the globe. Mr. Fakhri has further led public dialogues on human rights and development. During his practice as a lawyer, Mr. Fakhri fought for the rights of people who were indigent and incarcerated in a psychiatric institution. He is the author the book ‘Sugar and the Making of International Trade Law’, and co-author of ‘Bandung Global History and International Law: Critical Pasts and Pending Futures’ (co-edited with Vasuki Nesiah and Luis Eslava).

About the T.M.C. Asser Lecture
On the occasion of its 50th Anniversary (1965 – 2015), the T.M.C. Asser Instituut launched, on 2 December 2015, the Annual T.M.C. Asser Lecture on the development of international law.

Each year, the Asser Institute invites an internationally renowned jurist and outstanding public intellectual to take inspiration from Tobias Asser’s vision and to examine – as Asser did in his days – how to respond to ‘the condition of society’. Mutual trust and respect are crucial to the health of any society, especially when it is a heterogeneous one; this holds regardless of whether it is the international society, the European society or the urban society of one of the rapidly growing cities across the globe. A question that Tobias Asser handed down to us is ‘how can law and legal institutions contribute to the cultivation of such necessary trust and respect?’ – a question central to the Asser Institute’s Research Agenda. 

The Annual T.M.C. Asser Lecture means to bring this question to different contexts and fields of law. It is a platform for constructive, critical reflection on the role of law in addressing the challenges and (potentially radical) changes of the global society of the 21st century.

Download the Annual T.M.C. Asser Lecture’s background paper for more information.