The 51st Session of the Committee on World Food Security (CFS), which took place from 23 to 27 October 2023, has been adjourned for the second year in a row due to unresolved disagreements over the content of the final report. The reconvened Session will take place on Saturday 25 November 2023, from 10:00 to 13:00 and from 14:30 to 20:30 (Rome time), in hybrid format. Please follow this link for further details.

Last year, geopolitical divisions and detailed discussions about the war in Ukraine and its impact on global food security prevented the Plenary to end with a proper conclusion. This year, the debate which prevented the closing was on the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Despite the escalating urgency and the humanitarian crisis arising from the Israeli bombing in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, member states have failed to reach a consensus on the imperative for a ceasefire and the provision of humanitarian assistance.

The drafting procedure for each CFS Plenary report involves a Drafting Committee composed of elected Member States working closely with the CFS Secretariat to prepare the final report. The final draft often reflects the decisions taken for each agenda item and the significant debates during the session. However, lack of consensus among members on draft conclusions in the last two Plenary sessions resulted in extensive debates and eventual adjournment of the sessions.

During the presentation of the draft report for CFS 51 on October 27, 2023, Egypt proposed an addition under Agenda item III Coordinated policy responses to the food crisis – the State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2023, emphasizing the need to avoid using food and water as weapons in conflict areas:

[The Committee stressed the need to refrain from using food and water as weapons of war in conflict areas, expressed the need for reliable, sustained, sufficient and unhindered access of essential goods and services to civilians throughout the Gaza Strip, including but not limited to water, food, medical supplies, and energy, and stressed the role of FAO, IFAD and WFP, in coordination and collaboration with other United Nations agencies, international financial institutions and relevant bodies, to assess and address, within its mandates, the consequences of the conflict on food security and agriculture in Gaza and in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.]

The proposal to adjourn was adopted with 48 votes in favour against 30. Post-vote, some Member States exited, while the Civil Society and Indigenous Peoples’ Mechanism (CSIPM) expressed their intention to intervene. The CSIPM’s intervention was prepared and delivered by Tyler Short, a youth representative of the CSIPM Coordination Committee and Advisory Group, and La Via Campesina.

“Thank you Chair for giving us the floor. We agree with you. We need more dialogue. Shamefully, the government that I pay taxes to has left this plenary hall already.

Unfortunately, the CSIPM has to ask: Does anyone here think that food and water should be used as weapons of war? Does anyone here think that essential goods and services should not reach Palestinian civilians? Does anyone think that the RBAs should be hindered from doing their life-saving work on the ground? You do politics, and they go hungry. You do politics, and the war continues. Clearly, the CFS cannot stop the war, but we can strive to realize the right to food for all.

The rules. What are the rules? International law? What about human rights? Are these not rules to consider and act upon? They too are legally binding. The CFS has a mandate. We have a shared vision to realize the right to food. Sadly, some Member States must have lost this vision. Can you not see? Can you not see what is happening?

New York, Geneva, and Rome. Are we not connected? Can CFS take a step forward? Can you affirm your faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of nations large and small? We see the hypocrisy.  

And yet, we are still here. We believe in the CFS. We defend the CFS. We claim our right to directly participate in this Committee. You cannot take this away from us.

The text proposed by Egypt aligns with the CFS Framework for Action on Protracted Crises. Many Member States argue in negotiations that agreed language should be maintained. What about this product negotiated by the Committee? We have this Framework for a reason. Now is the time to put it into action!

Unfortunately, it appears that we cannot finish our work today, but we still must take a step forward. Otherwise, what will happen? How many more lives will be taken from this earth?

The CSIPM therefore reaffirms our call for peace. We call for respect for international law. The right to food must be realized everywhere, for everyone. Thank you.”

We warmly invite members of the CSIPM to actively join and contribute to the upcoming reconvened hybrid Plenary Session on 25 November. Please follow this link for further details.

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