Remarks at a UN Security Council Briefing on Conflict-Induced Hunger (via VTC)

Ambassador Kelly Craft
Permanent Representative
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York, New York
April 21, 2020


Thank you, Mr. President, and thank you so much to your foreign minister, Maldanado, for being with us today. And of course, it’s always great to see my friend David Beasley. I am glad that you’re doing well and that you’re healthy, absolutely, it’s great to see you. And thank you Director-General Qu thank you for your briefing and so much – we owe you such a tremendous [inaudible] for those on the margins of society. Ensuring that every single person has enough to eat is one of the fundamental ways we meet that obligation, so I really do want to commend, again, our briefers today for all their contributions and making certain that every single person does have food available.

[Political Coordinator Rodney Hunter now speaking]

Since our ambassador was disconnected and has been unable to reconnect to the system, I will deliver the remarks for the United States at this point. I will pick up where she left off.

The United States would also like to thank the Dominican Republic for encouraging the Security Council to return to the topic of food insecurity and hunger. Today’s conversation is especially important, as we approach the two-year anniversary of the adoption of Resolution 2417, which acknowledged the clear connection between conflict and hunger. In a perfect world, our discussion today would focus on the positive trajectories we are beginning to see in some countries, where there has been progress in the decoupling of violence and hunger.

However, we cannot ignore the downward trends we are seeing in places like Northeast Nigeria, South Sudan, and Cameroon. In these areas, insecurity and a lack of humanitarian assistance access is causing enormous disruption to the lives and livelihoods of millions of women, children, and men. Furthermore, we cannot turn a blind eye to the horrific and continuing impact of armed conflict on millions of Syrians and Yemenis. Innocent people are suffering because they are unable to acquire or produce food. Practically speaking, what this means is that because of constant insecurity – or, in cases like Syria’s, the use of humanitarian aid as a weapon by a despotic regime – families and individuals cannot sustain themselves.

It is deeply troubling that, in some cases, states use hunger as a tactic of war: they deploy siege tactics to prevent civilians from accessing food, and even impede and harass humanitarian actors trying to help. This behavior is cruel and inexcusable under any circumstance, and especially so in the midst of a global health crisis. States cannot ignore applicable obligations under international humanitarian law and international human rights law. As we speak, humanitarian needs are at unprecedented levels. With this in mind, it is of paramount importance that this Council call out those states that are failing to uphold their most basic responsibility to protect the people within their borders. We all know that international humanitarian assistance is vital, but it is only a temporary solution for meeting human need – need that is created, in many cases, by conflict. The only long-term solution is for states to act responsibly in the interests of all people living within their borders.

The Secretary-General has outlined a reform agenda to make immediate and long-term efforts more effective and efficient, and I want to close by noting two important and concrete elements of that agenda. First, we must improve coordination between humanitarian, development, and peace actors. And second, we must prioritize the timely and reliable financing of relief aid. These are the areas where this Council can, should, and must make greater strides in reducing hunger and conflict-related suffering – strides that are in keeping with our responsibility to care for those on the margins.

Thank you, Mr. President.