Hungry for Peace - A Call to Action

Following years of decline,the number of people suffering from hunger in the world has risen over the last three years to 821 million people in 2017. Today, 60 % of people who are chronically food-insecure, almost half a billion people, and 75 % of children suffering from stunting, 122 million children, live in countries affected by conflict.

The number of conflicts has risen in the past decade, particularly in countries already facing high levels of food insecurity, so has the scale of conflict-related hunger. People living in areas affected by conflict are three times more likely to be undernourished than those living in more stable developing countries. In 2017, conflict and related violence were the primary drivers of food insecurity in 18 countries. On the other hand, some of the root causes of hunger (poverty, inequality, lack of access to natural and productive resources, forced displacement, and impact of climate change) are driving conflicts.

Conflict and hunger are interconnected and fuel each other. Addressing all aspects of the vicious cycle between hunger and conflict is essential to achieve sustainable peace, Zero Hunger and the Sustainable Development Goals.

On average, in countries affected by conflict, 56% of the population live in rural areas where livelihoods largely depend on agriculture.

Addressing the underlying causes of hunger and supporting resilient small-scale agriculture can contribute to stabilization and recovery. A failure to work in a conflict-sensitive manner in countries in protracted crisis or in fragile states can exacerbate underlying tensions or create conditions conducive to the outbreak or spread of conflict. While conflicts are on the rise in numbers and intensity, providing life-saving assistance to civilians experiencing conflict-related hunger is increasingly challenging. Some parties to a conflict deliberately deny humanitarian assistance or target humanitarian workers and assets. In the worst cases, conflict actors have actively targeted civilians’ food access, agriculture and productive assets. The return of famine and near-famine conditions in several countries in recent years is a direct consequence of growing conflict and a disregard for international norms.

The gravity of this situation led the Security Council to act. The landmark United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 2417, unanimously adopted on 24 May 2018, is a significant step to break the vicious cycle between hunger and conflict and to promote adherence to international humanitarian law and famine prevention.

It recognises the inter-relationship between armed conflicts and hunger, and considers conflict-induced food insecurity, including famine, as a threat to international peace and security. It strongly condemns the starvation of civilians as a method of warfare and the unlawful denial of humanitarian access. It requests that the Security Council be promptly informed of the occurrence, in contexts of armed conflict, of risks of famine and widespread food insecurity.