SC: PoC – GoF Action on Conflict and Hunger Statement

Statement by the Group of Friends of Action on Conflict and Hunger in the UN Security Council Open Debate on Protection of Civilians, 23 May 2023.


I am honoured to deliver this statement on behalf of the Group of Friends of Action on Conflict and Hunger: The Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Estonia, France, Germany, Ireland, Mexico, the Netherlands, Niger, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America, this year co-chaired by Ireland and Ecuador.

We would first like to thank Switzerland for convening this important meeting, and all of our briefers for your remarks. You have very clearly outlined the devastating impact of conflict on food and nutrition.

Five years ago today, the UN Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 2417. This was an important achievement and a clear expression of our collective political will to end conflict-induced hunger.

With this landmark resolution, the Council acknowledged the undisputable link between conflict and food insecurity, and condemned the use of starvation of civilians as a method of warfare. The Group of Friends echoes the Secretary General’s recommendation to give full effect to resolution 2417.

In the five years since, the urgency of this resolution has only become clearer. Nearly 258 million people in 58 countries and territories were experiencing acute food insecurity in 2022 – up from 193 million in 53 countries and territories in 2021. For the vast majority of affected people, conflict is the main driver of hunger.

A global crisis of such magnitude and complexity demands collective, immediate and coherent action. Today we have an opportunity to do just that. The members of the Group of Friends of Action on Conflict and Hunger wish to raise three points:

First, that action by this Council on conflict and hunger is essential. The Council has a responsibility to take clear and decisive action. To do so, the Council relies on timely information on the driving factors of hunger, including through ‘white notes’ produced by OCHA, and the regular reports of WFP and FAO. The Group of Friends welcomes in this context the latest report on the protection of civilians by the Secretary General and its emphasis on the interaction between armed conflicts and hunger this year. The United Nations, its agencies, and civil society working on the ground play a critical role in gathering empirical evidence on acute food insecurity and its impact in multiple contexts. When this information is brought to the Council’s attention, the Council has a duty to take appropriate action.

Second, conflict and food insecurity are deeply connected issues. As Russia’s military aggression against Ukraine made clear, our food systems are interconnected – conflicts in one part of the world can have knock on effects for millions across the globe. The Black Sea Grain Initiative represents a vital effort to mitigate these impacts. We welcome the recent extension of the Initiative. We implore all parties to continue to implement its provisions fully, and to continue discussions to find sustainable solutions that allow for its effective and predictable operation.

Third, the Group of Friends calls for steps to ensure accountability for attacks against civilian targets. From Haiti, to Burkina Faso, to Sudan, we are witnessing how food and food supplies are being targeted in conflict. Food delivery trucks looted; farmland burned and farmers forced to flee; humanitarian aid denied to displaced populations. This is a matter of life and death. Civilians bear the burden of conflict, with women and children disproportionately affected by these flagrant violations of international humanitarian law. On the occasion of Protection of Civilians Week, we all have to recommit to ensuring accountability.

There are promising examples of actions being taken to alleviate hunger in many parts of the world, but much more needs to be done. Ultimately, humanitarian action cannot be the answer. Ending conflict-induced hunger requires ending conflict. For this, we need political will. And we encourage all actors to find pathways to peace that can end the suffering caused by conflict across the world.

Until hunger is a thing of the past, until we have broken the vicious cycle between armed conflict and food insecurity, we must redouble our efforts. The Group of Friends of Action on Conflict and Hunger and partners will continue to keep this issue at the forefront of the Council’s agenda for as long as it takes.