UNGA Side Event Elicits Ways to Break Conflict-Hunger Cycle
Photo by Neil Palmer (CIAT)
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A side event the margins of the 73rd UNGA built on the UN Security Council's 2018 resolution on conflict-induced hunger, to discuss how this sign of political will can contribute to preventing and eradicating conflict-induced hunger.

Veronique Andrieux, CEO Action Contre la Faim, called for improving early warning systems in order to prevent starvation from being used as a weapon of war.

Neven Mimica, EU Commissioner of International Cooperation and Development, said food crises need diplomatic and political solutions, thus interlinkages and synergies need to be improved, including with the UN Security Council.

25 September 2018: Officials from governments and international organizations discussed ways to address the link between conflict and hunger, in order to reduce both. They called for increased investments in resilience building, including in agriculture and food security, as well as better data and analyses on the link between conflict and hunger, and strengthening the interlinkages between the work undertaken to end hunger and the UN Security Council.

On 24 May 2018, the UN Security Council unanimously adopted resolution 2417, which underscores the need for the international community to address conflict-induced hunger. The side event on 25 September 2018 in New York, US, on the margins of the 73rd UN General Assembly (UNGA), addressed how this sign of political will can contribute to preventing and eradicating conflict-induced hunger. The event titled, ‘Breaking the Cycle Between Conflict and Hunger,’ was organized by the World Food Programme (WFP), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), and the government of the Netherlands.

Sigrid Kaag, Netherlands Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, said that without good data on hunger, effective action cannot be taken to eradicate it. She emphasized the need to name and call out those that impede humanitarian access, particularly when it comes to food assistance.

Mark Green, Administrator of the US Agency for International Development (USAID), said the US will support people in Yemen, but the Yemeni government also needs to support its people. He noted that, generally, all parties in conflicts are guilty: they have failed their people and humanity. Merely expanding humanitarian assistance will not help address hunger, he said. Instead, the Security Council needs to step in, as “even conflict has rules and many times famine is the result of breaking them.”

David Beasley, WFP Executive Director, said the number of people suffering extreme food insecurity, not knowing where their next meal will come from, has grown from 80 million to 124 million. “If you do not have food security, you are not going to have any other security,” he said. Beasley stressed that people do not want to leave their homes when they have hundreds or thousands of years of traditions and connections with their land, and research shows that people first try to relocate within their countries before making the decision to migrate. Noting that for every 1% of increase in hunger, there is a 2% increase in migration, he emphasized that it is a better investment to address the root cause of migration than its effects. Feeding a Syrian costs 50 cents in Syria but €50 in Berlin. As additional benefits to fighting hunger, he said studies show that when food security increases, the rate of pregnancies, conflicts between herders, and recruiting by extremists groups all decrease.

Veronique Andrieux, CEO of Action Contre la Faim, noted the need to improve early warning systems in order to prevent starvation from being used as a weapon of war. She called for promoting resilience building, with donors needing to increase their investments in agriculture and food security. She suggested: the creation of a Special Adviser to the UN Secretary-General on upholding humanitarian law in conflict; targeted sections for violations of humanitarian and human rights laws; and prosecuting the violators of humanitarian and human rights laws under national and international law.

Neven Mimica, EU Commissioner of International Cooperation and Development, stressed the need to improve the quality and data of conflict-hunger analyses. He noted that food crises need diplomatic and political solutions, thus interlinkages and synergies need to be improved, including with the UN Security Council.

Jose Graziano da Silva, FAO Director General, underscored that building resilience for vulnerable communities is essential to preventing conflict and migration, including by giving women access to land. Gilbert Houngbo, IFAD President, said we need to stop thinking about agriculture only as survival. Instead, he noted, we need to think of a hectare as a means to generate a decent income, by producing enough to bring to the market. Josefa Sacko, African Union (AU) Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture, emphasized the need for regional integration, adding that the AU wants to support the aim of doubling African trade.

In the ensuing discussion, participants called for better integrating the UN’s “sustaining peace” agenda with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Germany announced a €1.5 billion commitment to humanitarian assistance in 2018. [Event information] [Remarks of UN Secretary-General] [SDG Knowledge Hub sources]


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