UNSC expected to adopt Presidential Statement on ‘Protection of Civilians from Conflict-induced hunger’ today
Following a number of virtual negotiations and an open VCT meeting on 21 April 2020 on the Protection of Civilians from Conflict-induced hunger, a Presidential Statement is expected to be adopted by the Security Council on 29 April 2020.
The Statement calling on its Resolution 2417 (2018) and its previous Presidential Statement, reinforces the link between armed conflict, violence and conflict-induced food insecurity and starvation, urging all belligerent parties to comply with their obligations under International Humanitarian Law (IHL) in regards to the protection of civilians (POC) and objects indispensable to their survival, including foodstuffs, crops, livestock, and in relation to the protection of humanitarian personnel and humanitarian relief operations, highlighting the importance of guaranteeing safe and unimpeded passage of humanitarian personnel in armed conflict situations.
GRC welcomes the Presidential Statement, seen as a renewed commitment to ending conflict-induced hunger. The references to the specific impact that armed conflicts have on women, children, persons with disabilities, older persons, refugees and IDPs and the need for country specific and disaggregated reporting by sex and age on the risk of conflict induced food insecurity is an important and much needed development.
Particular importance is given to address the underlying root causes of armed conflict, while enhancing humanitarian, development and peace-building efforts. Positive mentions include the further encouragement to work in support of reducing conflict-induced hunger towards the achievement of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, i.e. eradicating poverty and reducing the risk of food insecurity in situations of armed conflict.
GRC endorses the UNSC’s implicit recognition of the lack of accountability thus far, and its call to ensure compliance with international human rights law and IHL. Now more than ever there is an urgent need to impunity of this neglected crime and strengthen accountability for such violations.
Last week’s warning from the Executive Director of the World Food Programme that “[W]e could be facing multiple famines of biblical proportions within a few short months” in the fall-out of COVID-19, highlights the urgent need to implement the tenets of UNSC 2417. The WFP further detailed that a “hunger pandemic” would follow and compound the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, with “135 million people facing crisis levels of hunger or worse”. Yet, whilst providing food and medical supplies is an essential humanitarian service, it is not enough. With some of the world’s most vulnerable communities standing at the edge of this precipice, it is vital that the international community does not ignore the root causes of their plight in the first place. This was echoed by the Food and Agricultural Organisation, who warned that, “[H]umanitarian, development and peace actors [must] address the root causes of acute food insecurity”. Concurrently, the UNSC underscored that, two years after the adoption of UNSC 2417, conflict remains the driving force behind food insecurity. Accountability was called for in the UNSC briefing and deemed essential to prevention. Moreover, as highlighted by Germany, monitoring and reporting on starvation crimes increases deterrence and preventative humanitarian action.
GRC have been engaged on the issue of starvation since 2017 in conjunction with The Netherlands’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Welt Hunger Hilfe, the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs of Switzerland, and a range of civil society organisations, principally in Yemen, South Sudan and Syria. GRC, in partnership with the World Peace Foundation, are proud recipients of grant funding from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of the Netherlands for the project ‘Accountability for Mass Starvation: Testing The Limits of the Law’.
For more on GRC’s work on conflict and hunger see www.starvationaccountability.org