About Us
The World Food Law Institute at Howard University School of Law uses a multidisciplinary approach to promote social development in the agricultural and agribusiness sectors, emphasizing the importance of law and legal research. The Institute tries to improve the understanding of issues faced by the millions of persons living and working in rural areas around the world and to provide support for those seeking food security.

The Institute sponsors three major activities:
The World Food Day Symposium is a major event held in October to celebrate the founding of the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization. The 2004 Symposium theme, “Biodiversity for Food Security”, was considered during a day-long program co-sponsored by Howard University, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization and the Council on Foreign Relations. The speakers included the Director-General of FAO, the 2004 World Food Prize winner from Sierra Leone, seven ambassadors, academics and representatives of the business community. The 2004 theme was “From Agriculture to Agribusiness in Africa: The Culture of Business and the Law”. This theme is likely to develop into one or more independent projects. In October 2006 the Symposium will address "Climate Change, Food Security and Africa".

The World Food Law Fellowship sponsors a three-month research and writing internship in the Development Law Service of the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization in Rome. The Fellow conducts research concerning one or more topics related to food law and regulation and may write a publishable research paper jointly with an FAO attorne

The World Food Law Institute is a Partner in the 2013 Summer Academy in Global Food Law and Policy, which will be held in Grenada, Spain, from July 22-26. The Summer Academy in Global Food Law & Policy is an established one-week summer program for practitioners, policymakers, industry representatives and leading academics working in the field of food law and policy. It offers intensive training on the most innovative developments in global food regulation and provides a unique opportunity for professional development and networking in an informal and inter-disciplinary setting.

The World Food Law Institute brings together experts from government, diplomacy, business, NGOs and academia for nationally and globally focused discussions of broad agriculture and food policy issues, regulatory developments, trends and the law.

The Embassy Round Table Series has become the centerpiece of these exchanges., bringing together a small group of invited experts and guests to discuss a specific topic in an off-the-record setting.
From 2010 through September 2011 the topics ranged from women and food security ( South Africa) to aquaculture (Norway), technology and food security (Ethiopia and Hungary), agriculture as a strategic sector (Embassy of Spain), inspections (European Union) and small farmers and global standards (Cote d’Ivoire). Embassy and government officials as well as Congressional staff, leaders from global companies, trade association experts, professors and attorneys were among the participants.
“It is therefore an honour to have one of America’s most prestigious institutions, the Howard University School of Law, sponsor this interdisciplinary symposium to explore the implications of this year’s World Food Day theme, “Biodiversity for Food Security”. …. The pressure is on us to find ways to feed the population, and to increase agricultural production without further depleting the earth’s natural resources. “ Dr. Jacques Diouf, FAO

Vision The vision of the World Food Law Institute is for a worldwide network of attorneys who lead and who possess, practice and disseminate the legal expertise and broader understandings needed for global food security and the support of those who produce our food supply.

Mission The mission of the World Food Law Institute is to strengthen and to offer legal expertise for an improved understanding and development of food and agricultural policy and regulations.

The World Food Law Symposium and Distinguished Lecture are the major annual events sponsored by the World Food Law Institute.

Biodiversity and Food Security was the theme of a Symposium involving the Director-General and staff of FAO and other guest speakers. The collaboration resulted in a Symposium issue of the Howard Law Journal.

Other Symposium themes were Standards for Food Safety in an Era of Globalized Trade; From Agriculture to Agribusiness in Africa: The Culture of Business and the Law; and Climate Change, Food Security and Africa.

Subsequent featured speakers have included the President of AGRA, corporate officers and leaders of the Washington diplomatic corps.

Research papers are a growing facet of the World Food Law Institute’s program. Combining the efforts of Howard University School of Law students, Research Associates and overseas collaborators, the Institute co-sponsored several research papers in 2010-2011.
In collaboration with the North American Liaison Office of FAO, a Research Associate based in Brazil – completed “Brazil – The New Food Security Law”.
In a joint effort with the World Cocoa Foundation,  a Research Associate from Ethiopia  joined a Cocoa Foundation specialist in Ghana to write “Traditional Land Tenure in Ghana”,  including interviews with farmers. Howard Law students contributed constitutional and African and Latin case law research about large scale investments in land. See http:
“In the circumstances, agriculture stands out as a pillar of hope, but only as long as its power to transform economies and improve well-being, which has been convincingly demonstrated in the course of history, is appropriately harnessed.” Monty Jones, Director, Forum on Agricultural Research in Africa 2008 Symposium
With FAO - In addition to the research collaboration with FAO, World Food Law Scholars have spent 3-6 months in Rome to conduct legal research. With Rome Agencies - The Institute initiated a collaboration with three Rome-based agencies (FAO, IFAD, UNIDROIT) and the International Development Law Organization. The March 2011 Symposium on Legal Aspects of Large Scale Investments in Land: Implications for Food Security and Rural Development at FAO Rome was the result.

Nobel Laureate Wangari Maathai inaugurated the Distinguished Lectures with the theme Forests and Food.

Subsequent Lecturers were from the Office of the Director General of the WTO, the General Counsel of the International Fund for Agricultural Development and the Secretary of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture.


“I don’t know whether the food law [program] looks at that—there are some rules of the game that do not allow this farmer to get enough for his labor. He gets very little from the international market, and he has no control over that. .” Wangari Maathai
“Agricultural trade is an important part of the general economic activity in many countries and plays a key role in domestic production and employment. More specifically, the agricultural sector is considered by some to be a sensitive sector of the economy due to its multifunctional character e.g. its connection with the self-sufficiency objective or other non-trade concerns such as the balance between the rural and urban incomes or the need to maintain rural areas for the subsistence of masses of people.” Gabrielle Marceau, World Trade Organization
At the Initiative of the Institute, we joined with three Rome-based agencies (FAO, IFAD, UNIDROIT ) and the International Development Law Institute (IDLO)) to co-sponsor a Symposium on Legal Aspects of Large Scale Investments in Land as a first step in fulfilling the Institute’s vision. Of a legal network. As stated in the Institute’s Background Paper, “The vision is for a global network or community of attorneys ... who can share their knowledge and understanding of relevant and evolving policies, themes, laws, regulations and cross-disciplinary relationships.

“The vision is for a global network or community of attorneys … who can share their knowledge and understanding of relevant and evolving policies, themes, laws, regulations and cross-disciplinary relationships….”


The World Food Law Institute involves Howard University J.D. and graduate law students in its programs and its research projects.

One aim is to develop—within a group of students and alumni—a familiarity with, an interest in and research capabilities regarding domestic and international laws and regulations that are relevant to various aspects of food security and food production. Another aim is to expose them to the relevant institutions and experts.



The World Food Law Institute and the School of Law signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the University of Nantes in September.

According to Article 1 of the MOU,
“ The purpose of this MoU is to develop academic, educational and research co-operation and to promote mutual understanding between Université de Nantes and The World Food Law Institute at Howard University School of Law.
The partners agree to develop collaborative activities the academic area of food and agriculture issues, on a basis of equality and reciprocity.”

The official first step in the collaboration was a visit to the Institute by Professor Catherine Del Cont, who witnessed the MOU signing, lectured to Howard Law students about competition and agricultural

trade, and met with the Institute’s Advisory Council.

Dean Francesco Adornato of the University of Macerata in Italy also lectured about EFSA, as well as about agriculture and local development.

updated: March 25, 2013