“We Cannot End Hunger As Long As There Is Conflict”
-WFP Director Asserts
In his first briefing to the Security Council, ED David Beasley called on Members to help end conflicts and secure humanitarian access to address some of the worst humanitarian crises in the history of the UN. This high-level event on the links between conflict and hunger also included a briefing by USG/ERC for Humanitarian Affairs, Mr. Mark Lowcock. The event was convened by the Netherlands during its month-long presidency of the Security Council, and chaired by the Netherlands’ Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, Ms. Sigrid Kaag. This session followed on from the 2017 discussion series conveyed by the Netherlands and Switzerland in their role as Chairs of the Group of Friends on Food Security and the Group of Friends on Protection of Civilians at the UN in New York, with meetings in Rome and in Geneva, leading to a report “Conflict and hunger: breaking a vicious cycle”.
Both the ED and ERC referenced the recently-launched EU/FAO/WFP Global Report on Food Crises 2018, noting that the number of food-insecure persons is on the rise, with 815 million people facing food insecurity, 60 percent of whom live in conflict-affected areas. They stressed the increasing levels of acute hunger attributable to new or intensified conflicts, highlighted the main drivers of acute food insecurity in 18 countries, and cited devastating conditions in countries including South Sudan, Syria and Yemen.
In her remarks, Ms. Kaag called for a firm stance against violations of international law, the strengthening of efforts to prevent food insecurity in conflict areas and ensuring political solutions to conflict situations.
Most Member States welcomed the briefing and made strong supporting comments, calling for warring parties who violate international humanitarian law by using starvation as a weapon of warfare and denying humanitarian access should be held accountable by the Security Council, with some suggesting sanctions and other measures. Per the Security Council’s August 2017 presidential statement on the four countries facing famine, Members commended information such as the newly released Global Report, and reiterated the need for early warning data on the humanitarian consequences of conflict and that can lead to famine to support their deliberations. They also underlined the need to enhance longer-term recovery and resilience building work in conflict-affected countries.
While most Members received this briefing very positively, few expressed concerns at having a stand-alone agenda item on food security and conflict. Instead they stressed that food security should only be discussed as part of existing country-specific Council briefings. They also cautioned against linking hunger and conflict at the expense of other factors such as global economic stagnation and weather conditions.
Rural Women’s Empowerment: Side-Event highlights gains and challenges
Rural women in Africa compromise 60% of agricultural labor force, and they face unprecedented challenges when it comes to land access and financial inclusion. At a side event co-organized by the Office of the Special Adviser on Africa (OSAA), UN Women Executive Director, Ms. Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, stated that there has been significant gains in the empowerment of rural women through legal pathways and political platforms. However, she stressed that African states and relevant partners must galvanize support to achieve concrete and targeted actions aimed at fulfilling the commitments made to rural women’s empowerment and gender equality by the African Women’s Decade (2010-2020) initiative.