One by one, the hands went up.
China. France. Russia. The United Kingdom. The United States. Bolivia. Ivory Coast. Equatorial Guinea. Ethiopia. Kazakhstan. Kuwait. Netherlands. Peru. Poland. Sweden.
In a historic unanimous vote, members of the U.N. Security Council recognized for the first time that armed conflict and violence are closely linked to food insecurity and the risk of famine currently threatening the lives of millions of people.
“This is a transformational moment,” said World Food Program USA CEO and President Rick Leach, “prompting nations to act decisively in addressing the link between conflict and hunger.”
The resolution calls on all parties involved in armed conflict to comply with international law that protects civilians and food security. This means not targeting sites that produce or distribute food, such as farms, markets, mills, water systems or storage facilities.
The resolution also condemns the use of starvation as a weapon of war and calls for humanitarian personnel to be granted safe and unhindered access to civilians in armed conflicts.
Ten of the 13 largest food crises in the world today are conflict-related. In Afghanistan, Burundi, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Iraq, Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria and Yemen , the World Food Programme (WFP) is on the frontlines providing food assistance to families in need. The humanitarian agency is also feeding millions of refugees who have fled to neighboring countries in search of safety—and food.
“In all conflict zones I have visited, the people I talk to ask for peace as often as they ask for help getting food,” said WFP Executive Director David Beasley. “Peace and food security go hand in hand. To end hunger, we need to end conflicts.”
A recent report by WFP USA examines what can happen when people do not have enough food. If left unchecked, food insecurity destabilizes nations, creating fertile ground for unrest in many forms, from migration and food riots to recruitment by violent extremists.
In other words: There is no security with food insecurity.
“Responding to conflict-driven crises does not constitute a tradeoff between meeting the needs of the world’s most vulnerable and ensuring global stability,” Leach said. “They increasingly are one and the same.”