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Amnesty International supports the proposed Rome Statute amendment on starvation ahead of the ASP

20 November 2019

Amnesty International, in their latest position paper, has urged all the State parties to the Rome Statute to adopt the proposed Swiss amendment to include intentional starvation of civilians as a war crime in non-international armed conflicts (NIACs).

The proposed amendment will be considered at the upcoming 18th session of the Assembly of State Parties in December 2019. This significant amendment proposal along with other efforts such as the landmark SC Res 2417 led by The Netherlands form part of the urgent response required to address the rise of the deliberate use of starvation in conflict, the re-emergence of famines and the associated humanitarian crises.

The proposed amendment does no more than reflect the position in international humanitarian law and customary international law, namely that starvation is a crime in both types of conflict designation. If accepted, it would fill the current gap in starvation accountability and make Rome Statute consistent with the international legal framework applicable to armed conflicts.

It would also offer a strong signal to the millions of victims starving in NIACs that justice will not be denied because of the type of the conflict they have found themselves embroiled in. Moreover, it will signal to those using starvation as a method of warfare against civilians, that they cannot continue to act with impunity, shielded by a technicality.

GRC in partnership with The World Peace Foundation (‘WPF’) have been working to identify how international law may be used to advance the prevention, prohibition and accountability for mass starvation as part of its project: ‘Mass Starvation: Testing the Limits of the Law’ (supported by the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs).

GRC has published three policy papers in support of the Swiss amendment. The first paper, which focused on the Protection of Civilian issue, can be accessed here. The second paper, which focuses on the Legal Consistency, can be accessed here. The third paper, which focuses on Accountability, can be accessed here.

For more information on GRC’s starvation project, please see www.starvationaccountability.org

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