Legal and Regulatory Framework > Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)

The FAO services relevant to this category relate to: (i) WTO accession facilitation; (ii) trade agreements; (iii) awareness and negotiation of WTO agreements (on TBT, SPS, etc.); and (iv) TRIPS. (Assistance provided on the development side of these areas can be found in the category Compliance Support Infrastructure and Services.) The common aim is to assist members in drafting laws and regulatory frameworks in several areas related to agriculture and agricultural trade, notably the SPS, TBT, and TRIPS Agreements.

Legal framework improvement to match international agricultural treaties and obligations

The main objective is to assist countries in each of these areas to: (i) improve their legal framework and make their laws compatible with international treaties and obligations, as well as support agricultural development; and (ii) implement the provisions effectively so that countries develop their agricultural sectors and benefit from trade.

Through its Legal Office, FAO provides legal advisory services to governments on land, water, fisheries, plants, animals, food, forestry, wildlife and national parks and environment, and biodiversity, as well as general agricultural issues (institutions, trade, economic reform). This helps governments prepare laws, regulations, agreements and other legal texts. FAO advises on institutional structures and compliance with international law. An element of most advisory projects is capacity building through participatory training of national officials and consultants. FAO has provided a considerable amount of assistance to members in drafting both national plant protection laws in the context of the WTO TRIPS Agreement and national food laws related to the SPS Agreement. Establishing and/or strengthening National Codex Committees has also formed a significant part of its capacity building activities, with a focus on providing policy advice for effective regulatory food control frameworks that harmonize with the SPS Agreement.

FAO also provides technical inputs to the ongoing WTO negotiations on fisheries subsidies. In the area of food safety and quality, the review of the existing food control systems, including national legal and regulatory texts, has often been the initial step to the provision of technical, scientific, and regulatory inputs for short, medium, and long-term improvements and for WTO agreements negotiations on TBT and/or SPS issues.

The services are provided mainly to national governments but also to local government at different levels, as necessary, and civil society organizations like farmers’ organizations, by means of national and regional projects, and through the dissemination of information and analysis, and through seminars. Depending on the area and project context, the services are also provided in collaboration with partners. For example, assistance in the area of food quality and safety is at times provided in collaboration with WHO.

For more information: