Building Food Security in Asia through International Agreements on Rice Reserves

Publication | August 2018

Member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations should increase the speed of negotiation for, coordination of, and responses to emergency food aid releases to enhance food security in Asia.

Through the years, Asian states have forged relationships to achieve food security by establishing emergency food reserves (Briones et al. 2012). These relationships are institutionalized in joint statements, declarations, and agreements of intergovernmental organizations (Hirano 1996). The outcome is to preserve and enhance development and stability in the Asian region.

What are these instruments? Do they have binding force? How should historically nonconfrontational states resolve disputes and enforce decisions? This policy brief outlines the institutional history of the Agreement on the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Food Security Reserve (AFSR) Agreement and the ASEAN Plus Three Emergency Rice Reserve (APTERR) Agreement, and discusses their key features, binding force, and dispute resolution mechanisms.

Key points

  • ASEAN member states have entered into legally binding agreements establishing rice reserves to mitigate the impact of natural disasters and major calamities on food security.
  • To date, the parties have entered into the Agreement on the ASEAN Food Security Reserve (AFSR) Agreement and its two protocols, and the ASEAN Plus Three Emergency Rice Reserve (APTERR) Agreement.
  • Any disputes relating to the interpretation, application, or implementation of the AFSR Agreement are resolved through the procedure in the 2004 ASEAN Protocol on Enhanced Dispute Settlement Mechanism. Those under the APTERR Agreement are resolved through the mechanism in Article IX. To date, these mechanisms remain untested.
  • To build and sustain the momentum gained for the rice reserves, we suggest that ASEAN member states: (i) increase cooperation and financial support for the APTERR; (ii) increase the speed of negotiation, coordination, and response for emergency food aid releases; (iii) eliminate the consensus requirement for APTERR Council decisions in disputes; and (iv) incorporate an enforcement and compliance mechanism for APTERR Council decisions.
Policy Brief No: 2018-1

Additional Details

  • Agriculture and natural resources
  • Governance and public sector management
  • Regional cooperation and integration
  • Brunei Darussalam
  • Cambodia
  • Indonesia
  • Lao People's Democratic Republic
  • Malaysia
  • Myanmar
  • Philippines
  • Singapore
  • Thailand
  • Viet Nam
  • 2411-6734