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Conflict and Hunger: How the UN and Member States can help to break the cycle
by Veronique Andrieux
CEO of Action Against Hunger France
 
September 25, 2018
 
Remarks made by Veronique Andrieux, CEO of Action Against Hunger France, at the UN General Assembly 2018
 
Hunger is on the rise for the third year in a row, driven in part by conflict. On September 25, as part of the 73rd United Nations General Assembly, representatives from several countries, UN agencies, and Action Against Hunger held a high-level discussion on conflict and food security, with a focus on the recently adopted UN Security Council Resolution 2417, which establishes a link between hunger and conflict.
 
The meeting, called Exploring the Link Between Conflict and Global Hunger, was co-hosted by The Netherlands, the United States, the European Union, Sweden, the Food and Agriculture Organization, the International Fund for Agricultural Development, and the World Food Programme.
 
Humanitarian organizations Action Against Hunger, Concern, Norweigan Refugee Council, Oxfam, Save the Children, and World Vision shared their recommendations to operationalize Resolution 2417 and to break the cycle of hunger and conflict in a briefing paper. Remarks were given by Secretary-General António Guterres, USAID Administrator Mark Green, World Food Programme Executive Director David Beasley, CEO of Action Against Hunger France Véronique Andrieux, and more.
 
Below, find Ms. Andrieux''s remarks as prepared.
 
On behalf of Action Against Hunger, I would like to echo the statements made here today about the importance of Security Council Resolution 2417 to prevent and eradicate conflict-induced hunger. It is indeed a historic resolution. We welcome the recognition that ending hunger depends on ending conflict. Indeed, humanitarian action and technical solutions can mitigate the effects of a food crisis. But we desperately need political solutions and we need to implement 2417, if we are to reverse the shameful upward trajectory of hungry people in the world—primarily resulting from conflict.
 
In passing Resolution 2417, the Security Council has recognized that hunger and conflict fuel each other in a vicious cycle, and that conflict-induced food insecurity is a threat to international peace and security. We deem it essential that UN Member States take the following four steps to break the cycle:
 
1. Improve early warning, to systematically identify starvation as a method of warfare and enable early response
 
We need to respond earlier and more effectively to food security crises. The current analytical tools that we use — namely the IPC (Integrated Phase Classification) and the Cadre Harmonise — are plagued by political and technical constraints. These tools are meant to be independent but, in reality, national governments can influence the collection and dissemination of data and analysis. It can then be difficult for actors to mount an effective and timely response, based on needs. There is a critical need for an independent, data-driven, early warning mechanism that can enable early action and prevent a further worsening of the situation.
 
2. Prioritize investment on food security, livelihoods, and resilience-building
 
The deliberate blockade, targeting or destruction of food, livelihoods, productive assets, markets, critical infrastructure necessary for people to farm and trade and earn a living is a tactic that is all too common in many of the countries in which we operate. By using economic warfare tactics, parties to conflict methodically erode local economies, force people to flee, collapse production, destroy livelihoods, and worsen food security, thus undermining access to food and increasing the risk of famine.
 
2417 addresses conflict-induced food insecurity as a peace and security issue. To build and sustain peace, to prevent hunger from being a driver of conflict, to avoid the relapse, outbreak or spread of conflict, donors should increase investment in food security, agriculture, livelihoods, and resilience-building.
 
3. Minimize the impacts of military/security responses to conflict on livelihoods and access to food
 
Military and peace-keeping operations can threaten livelihoods, worsen food insecurity, and fuel political instability and violence, especially when political objectives — such as anti-migration or counter-terrorism policies — are mixed with humanitarian and development objectives.
 
This impacts the quality and efficiency of the aid provided and hinders humanitarian access from people in need to lifesaving assistance. States must minimize the impact of their security responses to conflict on livelihoods and access to food.
 
Furthermore, counter-terrorism restrictions and other policies that criminalize the provision of humanitarian assistance severely curtail our ability to assist people in need. An exemption on these restrictions granted to impartial, independent, and neutral humanitarian actors would facilitate the delivery of life-saving humanitarian assistance in conflict-affected settings.
 
4. Uphold respect to International Humanitarian Law by creating a Special Advisor to the UN Secretary-General and considering prosecution against International Humanitarian Law violations
 
The use of hunger as a weapon of war is a war crime according to Geneva Conventions. Yet, in some conflict settings, parties to conflict use siege tactics, weaponize starvation of civilians, or wilfully impede life-saving humanitarian supplies to reach those desperately in need.
 
This is unhuman, unacceptable. The UN and member states should hold parties to conflict to account for upholding their legal obligations by imposing targeted sanctions in response to violations of international humanitarian and human rights law — including through the prosecution of these crimes in the national and international legal systems.
 
The creation of a Special Advisor to the Secretary General on respect of International Humanitarian Law could support compliance with International Humanitarian Law and enhance accountability. Indeed, there is a moral imperative to avert major famines caused by conflict through negotiated political solutions to end conflict or, in the meantime, to enforce respect to International Humanitarian and Human Rights Law.
 
Millions of people are trapped in a deadly, man-made cycle of conflict and hunger. Action Against Hunger welcomes the unanimous condemnation of starvation as a weapon of war and the renewed call to upholding International Humanitarian Law; and remains committed to collaborate to translate 2417 into actual implementation.
 
* Briefing Paper - Conflict & Hunger: How the UN and Member States Can Help Break the Cycle: http://bit.ly/2IBkfQF http://bit.ly/2IBOEOz


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International Day of the Girl Child
by UN human rights experts
 
States around the world must take effective action to end discrimination and gender-based violence faced by girls, say a group of UN rights experts*. In a joint statement to mark International Day of the Girl Child, the experts say prompt action is needed so that girls can become full participants in all aspects of life. It is essential, they argue, to protect the progress already made and keep up the momentum for a world in which girls enjoy full equality:
 
“Harmful stereotypes and prejudices relating to age and gender too often hold girls back and place them in harm’s way. We must recognise the unique circumstances and challenges faced by girls everywhere and do more to ensure that their human rights are achieved, while empowering them to grow as active participants in communities and societies.
 
Through the Sustainable Development Goals, particularly Goal 1 (no poverty), Goal 4 (quality education), Goal 5 (gender equality), Goal 8 (decent work), and Goal 16 (peace and justice) the global community has committed itself to creating a world where girls can grow up free from discrimination and gender-based violence, where their gender and age will not be a barrier to equal opportunity and empowerment at all levels. However, these commitments continue to be unfulfilled, and there is a danger of regression, leaving too many girls behind.
 
All around the world, girls are denied equality in education, in health, in cultural life, in their families and in their communities, in ways that limit their choices and their opportunities. According to UNICEF, girls have lower literacy rates, receive less health care, and are more impoverished than boys.
 
Too many countries around the world maintain laws that discriminate against girls in matters like inheritance and the legal age of marriage. Too many families and communities persist in harmful practices like child marriage, menstrual seclusion and female genital mutilation.
 
Everywhere in the world girls are still too often subjected to gender-based violence and may become victims of trafficking and sexual exploitation as in forms of forced marriage, sexual slavery, prostitution, and forced pregnancy. In the contexts of conflict, post-conflict and humanitarian crisis situations, girls seeking to survive are often compelled to exchange sexual services and even “marry” for food, shelter, protection or safe passage.
 
Girls are often also expected to do more housework and to provide unpaid care for relatives. They may also be expected to work outside the home from a young age to support their families. When families find themselves in situations of need and hunger, girls are often the first to suffer. This early inequality within their family homes deprives girls of opportunities and puts them at a systematic disadvantage that continues throughout their lifetimes, limiting their access to food, to housing, to land, to education, to employment, and to the life that they would choose to craft for themselves.
 
Today, there are more girls in school than ever before, but one out of every five adolescent girls is still out of school. Too often, forced and/or early marriage or early pregnancy is a barrier to girls’ schooling. Girls must have full access to quality education, including to comprehensive education on sexuality and contraceptive information and services, in order to ensure their full development and to later facilitate their full access to employment and entrepreneurship opportunities.
 
Many of the challenges faced by girls are rooted in outdated and harmful perceptions about gender roles and what is ‘appropriate’ behaviour for young women, strongly influenced by patriarchal culture. Too often States misuse references to culture, religion, family and tradition in order to avoid fulfilling their human rights obligations to girls.
 
Too often, girl survivors of trafficking, sexual slavery and other forms of sexual violence face discrimination and stigma from their families and wider community, which may make them vulnerable to being re-trafficked, further stalling their social inclusion.
 
As States and the global community work to end these human rights violations, they should consider girls as agents and ensure that they participate actively in finding and implementing solutions.
 
Too often, girls face double discrimination that seeks to silence them and portray them as weak and powerless, but girls around the world are strong, brave, smart and capable. We must listen to what they have to say, give them opportunities to succeed, and must respect, protect and fulfil their human rights.”
 
* UN experts: Ms. Karima Bennoune, Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights; Ms. Koumbou Boly Barry, Special Rapporteur on the right to education; Mr. Dainius Puras, Special Rapporteur on the right to physical and mental health; Mr. Philip Alston, Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights; Ms. Maud De Boer-Buquicchio, Special Rapporteur on the sale and sexual exploitation of children; Ms. Urmila Bhoola, Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery, including its causes and consequences; Ms. Maria Grazia Giammarinaro, Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially women and children; Ms. Dubravka Simonovic, Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences; Ms. Elizabeth Broderick, Ms. Alda Facio, Ms. Ivana Radacic (Chair), Ms. Meskerem Geset Techane (Vice Chair), Ms. Melissa Upreti, Working Group on the issue of discrimination against women in law and in practice.
 
# The Special Rapporteurs, Independent Experts and Working Groups are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the UN Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world.
 
http://www.unwomen.org/en/news/in-focus/girl-child http://uni.cf/1lVmxcD http://www.un.org/en/events/girlchild/resources.shtml http://www.unfpa.org/news
 
* Visit the link below for more details on Human Rights issues from the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.


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