People's Stories Poverty

States must act now to fulfil famine victims’ right to food
by Hilal Elver
Special Rapporteur on the right to food
October 2017
The tragic reality of famine around the world has revealed that many States are failing to uphold their legal responsibilities, the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food, Hilal Elver, told the UN General Assembly in New York today.
She also called for an urgent shift in thinking away from crisis reactions and toward famine prevention.
“Contrary to popular belief, casualties resulting directly from combat usually make up only a small proportion of deaths in conflict zones, with most individuals in fact perishing from hunger and disease,” Ms. Elver said in her annual report to the General Assembly.
The Special Rapporteur said that this year the world has faced the largest humanitarian crisis since the creation of the United Nations. Around 20 million people have faced famine and “devastating” starvation in crises in north-east Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan, Syria and Yemen, all of which had arisen from conflict.
Another estimated 70 million people in 45 countries currently require emergency food assistance, an increase of 40 per cent from 2015, she said, also highlighting the serious starvation and severe right to food violations currently affecting the Rohingya people.
Ms. Elver hailed the “essential” work of the international humanitarian system in getting food to conflict victims and lowering death tolls.
But she said States and other parties involved in conflicts needed to recognize their own duty to act, and above all, avoid using hunger as a weapon of war. The right to food is an unconditional human right and legal entitlement for all people, not a discretionary option, she stressed.
“The human right to adequate food is a core right, indispensable for the enjoyment of all other human rights,” Ms Elver stated. “Freedom from hunger is accepted as part of customary international law, rendering it binding on all States.
“It is crucial that the international community understands that it is an international crime to intentionally block access to food, food aid, and to destroy production of food. Such acts as crimes against humanity, or war crimes.”
She added that the most serious cases should be referred to the International Criminal Court for investigation and possible prosecution.
“If the international community is serious about the imperative character of the right to food and the eradication of food insecurity in times of war and peace, steps must be taken to encourage the implementation of existing standards and to codify international law principles applicable to the right to food,” the expert said.
The Special Rapporteur urged all governments to focus on long-term policies to break the vicious cycle of recurring famines.
“Human rights violations, war crimes, repression and gross forms of inequality are conditions that frequently give rise to famine,” she said. “The attention and commitment of the international community must, as a matter of the highest priority, be directed toward eliminating the root causes of famine, and not limited to ad hoc responses to the agonizing symptoms of the latest food emergency.”

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681 Million Children living in Multidimensional Poverty
by OPHI, Global Coalition to End Child Poverty
The Oxford Poverty & Human Development Initiative (OPHI) has launched the 2017 Global Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI). The report disaggregates the latest figures by age group to analyse the particular situation of 1.8 billion children who live in 103 countries. Findings show that across the 103 low and middle income countries surveyed, children are found to constitute 34% of the total population – but 48% of the poor, based on a measure that assesses a range of deprivations in health, education and living standards.
According to OPHI 689 million children are living in multidimensional poverty and 87% of these poor children are growing up in South Asia and in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Children are also more afflicted by poverty, both in terms of incidence and intensity, than adults across all countries surveyed. The child poverty report finds that half of multidimensionally poor children live in ‘alert’ level fragile states, and child poverty levels are highest in the fragile states.
“These new results are deeply disturbing as they show that children are disproportionately poor when the different dimensions of poverty are measured", said Sabina Alkire, Director of OPHI.
The global MPI was first developed by OPHI with the UN Development Programme in 2010. It has been published in the Human Development Report ever since. This invaluable analytical tool identifies the most vulnerable people – the poorest among the poor, revealing poverty patterns within countries and over time, enabling policy makers to target resources and design policies more effectively.
* Access 2017 MPI via the link below.

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