Preliminary Statement of the CSM Advisory Group on the War in Ukraine and its implications for world food security

Ending the war now will also put a halt to a potential new layer of global food crisis.

The human tragedy generated by the War in Ukraine has moved the CSM Advisory Group to consult with CSM members from Ukraine and neighbouring countries to hear their testimonies and analysis. They have shared with us the horrific situation and terrible humanitarian crisis of those most affected by this war, people in Ukraine, women and men perilously seeking survival in besieged cities, in threatened rural communities, the internally displaced and refugees, among them many children and elderly people, countless non-Ukranian migrants and refugees facing now racism while fleeing from Ukraine. 

The Civil Society and Indigenous Peoples Mechanism strongly condemns this war and stands in solidarity with all its victims. We fear for the lives of our sisters and brothers in Ukraine, we cry with the refugees, we want this war to stop immediately!

We also fear for our sisters and brothers in Russia and Belarus affected by this war, particularly those who call for this war to end and face repression. 

We are deeply grateful for the numerous solidarity actions of civil society and peasants’ organizations in the neighbouring countries, acting in collaboration with public institutions, to receive, host and support hundreds of thousands of refugees, sharing with them what they most need now: food, homes, safety, hope. 

At the same time, we stress our solidarity with all civilians being impacted by all wars, armed and protracted conflicts all over the world. The war against Ukraine is a reminder to the CFS not to forget all other ongoing wars, armed conflicts, occupations, and sanctions that lead to food insecurity and human rights violations of the civilian population, as we have seen in Yemen, in Palestine and in so many other places, where millions of people face similar situations as we are seeing in Ukraine now. We have already discussed in the CFS the terrible suffering of the civil population who are pushed into hunger and malnutrition generated by armed conflicts, economic collapse, and rising food prices. 

Therefore, the war in Ukraine must be stopped now. We call for peace and an immediate ceasefire. We call for full respect and application of international humanitarian law. The international community must support the victims of this war with all the means necessary to ensure their human rights, particularly their rights to food, housing, and health. Food must not be used as a weapon. Alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity must be investigated.  

The full protection of all human rights is one of the fundamental pillars of the United Nations. This principle also unites us in the CFS, and as civil society and Indigenous Peoples organizations worldwide. All obligations under international human rights law must be fully applied, as we have consistently demanded in the CFS, including in cases of war, conflict, and occupation.

The CSM’s assessment of the implementation of the Framework for Action for food Security and Nutrition in Protracted Crisis (CFS-FFA) has shown that the Framework is very poorly known and implemented. CFS Member states should immediately adhere to the CFS-FFA, a key policy framework developed by CFS that guides comprehensive approaches to food security in circumstances of war, armed conflicts, occupation, and other protracted crises.

Ending this war now will also put a halt to a potential new layer of global food crisis, on top of the already existing conflicts and, particularly, the lasting impacts of the COVID 19 pandemic on the socio-economic-situation of billions of people as well as the deepening effects of the climate crisis. It is highly uncertain how much Ukrainian farmers will be able to produce on the highly fertile lands of the country this year, due to the ongoing massive environmental and infrastructure destructions caused by the war. Food shortages and sharply rising food prices already affect people in the country, but strong effects can also already be seen on the global level. 

The war builds on and deepens a systemic crisis we knew only too well before. The pre-existing structural inequalities within and among countries that have generated hunger, malnutrition and poverty over decades and generations are being exacerbated.

The world cannot continue this way. People cannot stand it anymore. Governments and the United Nations must recognize the global instability that results when civil societies’ demands and efforts for peace, equality, human rights, food sovereignty and the agroecological transformation with short supply chains for resilient food systems continue to be ignored. We are extremely worried on how the corporate agenda is prioritized instead, and we believe the first agenda item today was a clear example of this.

The new crisis, like the pandemic, is yet another wake-up call to change paradigms and policies. Governments and the United Nations have a huge responsibility and the power to listen and respond to these demands, to, firstly, stop this war immediately and to increase efforts to stop all armed conflicts, occupations, and political sanctions and to systemically identify root causes and address the environmental, climate and inequalities crises. 

The CFS was reformed in response to the last global food price crisis in 2008. Concretely, we suggest that as the foremost inclusive intergovernmental and international platform on food security and nutrition, the CFS must substantially contribute to address such impacts in line with its mandate.

Building on the work constructed over the years since 2009, the CFS can and must play its role, to foster the connection among the people most at risk, food security and nutrition, peace, human rights, and the necessary profound transformation towards more equitable and sustainable food systems. In peace!

Paula Gioia from La Via Campesina and the Civil Society and Indigenous Peoples’ Mechanism Advisory Group presented this preliminary statement during the CFS Advisory Group and Bureau Meeting held on 18 March 2022.
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