CSM Opening Statements on Famines and food crisis

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CFS 44, 9 October 2017: – CSM Statement on Policy responses to Food Crises, Famines and their Root Causes, and the Role of CFS

As the SOFI Report 2017 states the situation of chronic food crises in many countries and regions has severely worsened this year, with four countries on the brink of famine. This is unacceptable and calls for the collective responsibility of all governments, organizations and peoples.

Famines do not happen instantaneously, they take years to develop and early political and humanitarian action is extremely critical for prevention and mitigation.

We cannot tackle food crises, and eradicate hunger, without addressing the root causes.

Food insecurity derives typically from structural factors and policies that marginalize local food systems and small-scale food producers, and foster increased concentration of corporate power.

During conflict, food insecurity is exacerbated. According to the SOFI 2017, around 60 % the world’s hungry live in areas where there is conflict. The current food crises in conflict are largely due to multiple and often systemic human rights violations committed by state and non-state actors. They are rooted in aggression against civilians and food producers, resource dispossession and destruction, systemic disruption of agricultural activities, restriction of movement of peoples, traders and humanitarian assistance, as well as ethnic cleansing, occupation and sanctions. Starvation is used as a weapon of collective punishment and for most cases perpetuators enjoy impunity.

Continued depletion of natural resources makes communities extremely vulnerable to natural disasters which are more severe than ever due to human-induced climate change.

For those communities that are in dire need of food assistance, the late response to early warning systems, including humanitarian assistance and political and diplomatic pressure, results in worsening of food insecurity, spread of diseases, and human loss. The Humanitarian architecture has proven to be insufficient as assistance is very often politicized and nowhere near enough to meet the needs in the “four famine” countries and elsewhere.

CFS was reformed in response to the food crises in 2007/8. It must be able to effectively respond to the food crises of today, and tackle their causes sustainably. CFS should fully take on its role as the most inclusive international body for policy coherence, cooperation and coordination on FSN. In particular:

FirstCFS should become the central global platform for convening periodic and ad-hoc reviews of famines and severe food crises, focusing on the assessment of policy responses and their impact on the root causes, ensuring coherence of humanitarian, development and Human Rights dimensions. Such reviews should look at individual, collective and extraterritorial human rights obligations, since crises and conflicts are not only caused by domestic actors, but also provoked by foreign parties, both states and corporations.

The CFS, in close cooperation with Special Rapporteur for the Right to Food, should also call for UN Commissions of enquiry and fact-finding missions to provide field assessments and investigate human rights violations particularly in relation the Right to Food. The outcomes of such reviews and commissions should be communicated to the UN Security Council and other UN specialized organizations.

Second– We call on the CFS and its members to ensure the immediate dissemination and use of the Framework for Action for Food Security in Protracted Crises among the full range of intended users. All actors should facilitate reviews of current policies and actions, particularly in preparation for the Global Thematic Event on the Framework for Action n 2020.

Third CFS should give particular attention to the voices, rights and needs of communities living in the most-affected territories including indigenous communities, pastoralists, small-scale food producers, landless, children, orphans, and peoples with disabilities as well as refugees, internally displaced peoples.Women’s rights are of utmost importance:

In times of food crisis and conflict, pervasive patriarchy leaves women as the most food insecure and vulnerable to hunger, but at the same time they are the first to struggle to provide food for their families and themselves.  A continued focus is needed for the protection and fulfillment of women’s human rights, to ensure their meaningful active inclusion in decision making in relation to food production and consumption policies and programs and ensures their access to and control of land and natural resources.

Fourth– The CFS should promote accountability of different actors addressing food crises. It should support the New Way of Working Commitment made at the World Humanitarian Summit in 2016 that insists on bridging the humanitarian-development divide. It should enhance local food systems, promote transformative approaches to agriculture, strengthen local organizations and support country-owned plans.

Fifth– CFS should promote early response to forecast food crises; early action reduces humanitarian costs, prevents human suffering, and avoids development losses. The CFS could support an Early Action conference in 2018 to showcase evidence around early action, and increase donor commitment to funding early responses linked to long-term sustainable solutions.

Finally, CFS members should encourage country-led and owned mechanisms that seek durable and just political solutions to conflicts. For examplein Yemen, where 60% of the population is suffering from hunger, and cholera has spread across the country in unprecedented dimensions, an immediate and unconditional ceasefire and a lifting of the blockade of ports and airports, as well as the permission of humanitarian assistance, are vital to stop the unacceptable human suffering The SDGs will never be achieved without the political will to put an end to wars, conflict and violence. There is no food security without just peace.