ANTÓNIO GUTERRES, Secretary-General of the United Nations, noting that 60 per cent of the world’s undernourished people live in areas affected by conflict, underscored that “when war is waged, people go hungry”. In April, the World Food Programme (WFP) and its partners distributed food and cash to more than 3 million Ukrainians. In 2021, most of the 140 million people suffering acute hunger globally lived in just 10 countries: Afghanistan, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Haiti, Nigeria, Pakistan, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria and Yemen — with eight of those countries on the Security Council agenda. “When this Council debates conflict, you debate hunger,” he pointed out. “And when you fail to reach consensus, hungry people pay a high price.”
Armed conflict creates hunger, as fighting destroys farms and factories, drives people away from their harvests, causes shortages and drives up prices, he continued. Today, the impact of conflict is amplified by the climate crisis and economic insecurity compounded by the pandemic. Citing the example of Niger, which faces extremist armed groups and cross-border incursions from Nigeria, he noted only 6 per cent of its population is fully vaccinated against COVID-19. While Niger is ranked last according to the Human Development Index, it is 1 of the 10 countries most vulnerable to the climate crisis. Against that backdrop, he announced that $30 million will be released from the Central Emergency Response Fund to meet urgent food security and nutrition needs in Niger, Mali, Chad and Burkina Faso — “a drop in the ocean”, he stressed — bringing funding to almost $95 million that has been channelled through the Fund to the Sahel since the start of 2022.
He further expressed concern over the food security situation in the Horn of Africa, suffering its longest drought in four decades, with the WFP warning that millions of people in Somalia face famine within months. Around the world, 44 million people in 38 countries are at emergency levels of hunger — known as Integrated Food Security Phase Classification Level 4 — just one step away from famine, with more than half a million people in Ethiopia, South Sudan, Yemen and Madagascar already in Level 5 — catastrophic or famine conditions. Citing the frightening impact of the war in Ukraine on global hunger, he said the Russian Federation’s invasion of its neighbour has effectively ended Ukraine’s food exports, with price increases of up to 30 per cent for staple foods threatening people in countries across Africa and the Middle East.
United Nations humanitarian agencies and their partners helped bring six counties in South Sudan back from the brink of famine and reached 10 million people with food aid in Yemen per month in 2021, he said. However, in East Africa, the cost of food assistance has increased on average 65 per cent in the past year, and WFP has already been forced to reduce its support to 8 million hungry people in Yemen, he reported, calling for investment in political solutions to end conflicts and prevent new ones. “Most important of all, we need to end the war in Ukraine,” he stressed. International humanitarian law, reflected in Security Council resolution 2417 (2018) specifies that goods and supplies that are essential to civilians’ survival.
“There is enough food for everyone in the world,” he emphasized. The issue is distribution, deeply linked to the war in Ukraine. Citing his establishment of the Global Crisis Response Group on Food, Energy and Finance, he said any meaningful solution to global food insecurity must reintegrate Ukraine’s agricultural production and the food and fertilizer production of the Russian Federation and Belarus into world markets — despite the war. In addition, donors must fund humanitarian appeals in full, he stressed, highlighting that, almost halfway into 2022, global humanitarian response plans are funded at just 8 per cent. “In our world of plenty, I will never accept the death from hunger of a single child, woman or man,” he stressed. “Neither should the members of this Council.”
DAVID BEASLEY, Executive Director of the World Food Programme (WFP), said that, when the Nobel Peace Prize was given to WFP, it was clearly a message to the world that food security is critical to peace and stability around the globe. “What we are seeing now is an extraordinary destruction of the values we hold so dear of feeding the poor and helping the needy around the world,” he said. Even before the Ukraine crisis struck, the world was already facing an unprecedented, perfect storm because of conflict, climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic. It was thought that the situation couldn’t get worse than in Ethiopia, then in Afghanistan and now in Ukraine. That’s on top of the areas the Secretary-General alluded to where famine is knocking on the door, such as the Sahel and the Horn of Africa, he said.
The number of people marching to starvation increased from 80 million to 135 million before COVID-19, he said. Because of the pandemic, the number rose to 276 million, then due to war in Ukraine, it further increased to 323 million. Of that 276 million, 49 million were at risk of famine in 43 countries. Food prices are the number one problem in 2022, but there will be a food availability problem in 2023, he warned. When a country like Ukraine, which provides food for 400 million people, is out of the market, it creates market volatility. When prices got out of control in 2007 and 2008, riots and protests were seen in more than 40 countries. Now, protests are taking place, including in Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Pakistan and Peru, with destabilizing dynamics in Burkina Faso, Mali and Chad. These are only the signs for more to come.
“When a nation that is the breadbasket of the world becomes a nation with the longest bread line of the world, we know we have a problem,” he said. The United Nations is trying to reach people inside Ukraine, but that does not solve the problem outside that country, he pointed out, stressing the need to get ports running. He said 36 countries import more than 50 per cent of grain from this region. Failure to open the ports in the Odessa region is a declaration of war on global food security. It will result in famines, destabilization and mass migration around the world. He said mothers told him that their children have not been fed in two weeks and they must choose between heating oil and cooking oil. “When mothers must choose between freezing children to death and starving them to death, something is wrong,” he warned, urging the international community to step up its effort and get through the perfect storm, as it was able to do so in the past.
QU DONGYU, Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), said that, worldwide, prosperity is being reversed. There is less food security, less health security, less income and greater inequality. Agriculture is one of the keys to lasting peace and security. The last five years has seen yet another spike in global levels of acute hunger. Citing the Global Report on Food Crises, released in 2021, he said approximately 40 million more people experienced acute food insecurity compared to 2020, bringing the total to 193 million people in 53 countries and territories. Further deterioration is projected through 2022, including places with catastrophic food insecurity. There are famine risks in Yemen, Somalia, South Sudan and Afghanistan. FAO has stepped up its efforts to strengthen agrifood systems, save lives and protect the agricultural livelihoods of the world’s most vulnerable.
Pointing out that conflict remains the single greatest driver of hunger, he said that, between 2018 and 2021, the number of people in crisis situations who live in countries where conflict was the main driver of acute food insecurity increased by a staggering 88 per cent, to over 139 million. As the world began to recover from COVID-19, the war in Ukraine broke out, disrupting exports and logistics and seriously affected food availability. Ukraine and the Russian Federation together export 30 per cent of the cereals and 67 per cent of sunflower in the world. The increase in energy and fertilizer prices is putting the next global harvest at risk. According to the latest scenarios, it could increase chronic undernourishment by an additional 18.8 million people by 2023. “We are neighbours on this small planet village,” he said. “What happens to one affects us all.”
Emphasizing the need to prevent the acceleration of acute food insecurity trends in the coming months and years, he urged expansion of food production at the country-level. Agrifood supply chains and value chains must be strengthened with engagement of public and private sector in support of smallholder farmers and households. FAO has been doing just so in Ukraine, Afghanistan and other countries. In 2021, it reached more than 30 million people worldwide with emergency agricultural assistance and resilience-building programmes. It is critical to protect people, agrifood systems and economies against future shocks, he stressed. Moreso, to prevent the impacts of conflict on food insecurity, it is imperative to increase sustainable productivity, strengthen capacities to deliver relevant services and commodities, and provide access to innovative financial tools and digital services.
He appealed to Member States to continue providing the necessary aid for food insecurity globally, allocate new resources to sustain agricultural production in challenging contexts, and continue to recognize and support the role of agriculture in food security and peace and the contributions of international organizations like FAO, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), WFP and others. On 19 May 1943, the first United Nations Conference on Food and Agriculture was convened in Hot Spring, Virginia, United States. The founders wrote: “The Food and Agriculture Organization is born out of the need for peace, as well as the need for freedom from want. The two are interdependent. Progress towards freedom from want is essential to lasting peace.” Much has changed since then — but one thing remains a constant. The world needs enough foods, good foods and better foods — for all. Investing in agrifood systems is more relevant than ever. Let’s work together effectively and coherently.
SARA MENKER, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Gro Intelligence, said that her company’s team, from over 40 countries, includes experts in software infrastructure, climate science, agronomy, trading and financial markets, engineering and artificial intelligence who work with large and small companies, financial institutions and Governments. Underscoring that the Russian Federation-Ukraine conflict did not start a food security crisis, she said it simply added fuel to a fire that was long in the works before the COVID-19 pandemic exposed the fragility of supply chains. Gro Intelligence estimates show that price increases in major food crops year to date have made an additional 400 million people food insecure, a nearly 40 per cent increase globally in the last five months and equivalent to the number of people that China has taken out of poverty in the last 20 years. Countries disproportionately affected are in regions such as North Africa and the Middle East, Horn of Africa and West and Central Asia, she said, adding that current food security challenges will last several years.
The lack of fertilizer, climate disruptions, record low inventories in cooking oils, record low inventories of grains, and logistical bottlenecks have already started to unravel decades of global economic progress, she said. “Without substantial, immediate and aggressive coordinated global actions, we stand the risk of allowing extraordinary amounts of both human suffering and economic damage,” she added. Global fertilizer prices have nearly tripled year on year and are quadrupled over the past two years because of supply shocks driven by logistical bottlenecks, restrictions on natural gas which impact the ability to produce fertilizer, sanctions and export restrictions amidst the Russian Federation-Ukraine conflict. This risks significant crop yield reductions in key producing regions, such as Brazil, United States and Western Europe later this year and in 2023, severely impacting global food security and inflation for three to five years. As well, drought conditions for wheat are the worst in over 20 years; even major breadbaskets, such as the United States and Brazil, the world’s two largest exporters of agricultural products, are also experiencing extreme droughts.
She also noted that the price of traditionally cheap palm oil has nearly tripled in the last two years, driven by increased biofuel demand, drought in regions that produce alternative cooking oils, such as Brazil and Canada, record import demand from China, and the loss of nearly 75 per cent of global sunflower oil exports due to the Russian Federation-Ukraine conflict. While official government estimates from around the world put global wheat inventories at 33 per cent of annual consumption, Gro Intelligence statistical models show that global wheat inventories are in fact closer to 20 per cent, a level not seen since the financial and commodity crisis of 2007-2008. Similar inventory concerns also apply to corn and other grains. The Russian Federation and Ukraine used to provide nearly a third of the world’s wheat exports and are both top five global exporters of corn. Combined, they used to export 75 per cent of global sunflower oil supplies. All Ukrainian ports remain closed, making it impossible to move any of the country’s harvested grain across borders. Moreover, Russian exports, which also include fertilizer, are limited because of Black Sea maritime hazards.
Calling on those who have the power to change the course of history, she said there are positive solutions and approaches that can be delivered, but they will require quick and coordinated global effort. The international community can coordinate a global response, eschew a “to each their own mentality” as to food security and climate risk, be willing to have constructive, albeit difficult, conversations, and jointly accept that what should be addressed is less of a food shortage and more of a crisis of prioritization, she said.
ANTONY J. BLINKEN, Secretary of State of the United States and Security Council President for May, said that, according to the WFP and FAO, the number of people affected by food insecurity due to conflict rose from 100 million in 2020 to an estimated 161 million in 2022. The World Bank reports that the Russian Federation’s war in Ukraine could add another 40 million people to that total. Against that backdrop, the United States has announced another $215 million in emergency food assistance, added to $2.3 billion in humanitarian aid since February. The Russian Federation’s flagrant disregard of Security Council resolution 2417 (2018) — which condemns the starvation of civilians as a tool of war — is just the latest example of a Government using the hunger of civilians to advance its objectives. “Let’s not use diplomatic speak,” he stressed: “The decision to wage the war is the Kremlin’s and the Kremlin’s alone.” If the Russian Federation stopped fighting tomorrow, the war would end, while if Ukraine stopped fighting, there would be no more Ukraine. Since 24 February, Russian naval operations have shown the intent to block Ukrainian ports, while on land the military is destroying Ukrainian grain storage facilities and stealing food supplies.
The food supply for millions of Ukrainians and millions more around world “has quite literally been held hostage by the Russian military”, which is using food as a weapon to accomplish what its invasion has not — breaking the spirit of the Ukrainian people, he continued. However, Ukrainian farmers are risking their lives, returning to mined fields, wearing bullet-proof vests and helmets as they harvest. Despite this, 20 million tons of grain sit unused in Ukrainian silos as food prices skyrocket worldwide. Sanctions are not blocking Black Sea ports or emptying Ukrainian grain silos; the Russian Federation is, he said, pointing out that sanctions deliberately include carve-outs for Russian Federation exports of food, fertilizer and seeds. He urged the Council to unequivocally call out the Russian Federation for its atrocities in Ukraine and unprovoked war of aggression. Recalling the siege of Leningrad by the Nazis, when an estimated 1 million Russians died, many starving to death — including the one-year-old brother of President Vladimir V. Putin — he stressed: “It is on us to prevent this history from repeating itself.”
SHIRLEY AYORKOR BOTCHWEY, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ghana, said that, perhaps, for the first time since the Second World War, the impact on food security resulting from one conflict is being seen in every country. “We experience together the profound anxiety of a global economy in uncharted waters, buffeted by uncertain headwinds,” she added. Against that backdrop, she welcomed the acknowledgement in resolution 2417 (2018) of the link between conflict and hunger. However, there is still much to be done to build resilience in food systems, to enhance global respect for norms relating to populations’ right to food and to integrate peacebuilding objectives into the creation of resilient food systems. While the current global food security crisis predates the Russian Federation’s invasion of Ukraine, the war has clearly exposed the interconnected nature and fragility of global food systems.
The food crisis that millions of the world’s citizens confront now — especially in Africa, which is the hardest-hit — “cannot wait until we have a perfect outcome among all States”, she stressed. Purposeful actions that support efforts of developing countries are needed, with a focus on building resilience in economies and food systems. To this end, the scale and effectiveness of efforts by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank in filling the financing gap in Africa in response to COVID-19 through fast-track facilities, contingency emergency financing and the Fund’s issue of special drawing rights provide a model for addressing short-term shortages and building resilience. Further, she underscored that action is also required by the parties to the conflict to facilitate the movement of food and fertilizer through Black Sea ports and other transportation lanes.
RAYCHELLE OMAMO, Cabinet Secretary for Foreign Affairs of Kenya, said that, in the Horn of Africa, extreme drought could cause up to 20 million people to go hungry in 2022 and make sustaining peace more difficult. Citing similar links between food shortages and instability in Yemen, Afghanistan and the Sahel region, she said the war in Ukraine is now claiming victims around the world as food prices soar. In that connection, she welcomed the formation of the Global Crisis Response Group on Food, Energy and Finance and called for “more than short-term actions in the hope of a return to the status quo”. Bold solutions are needed to tackle the food crisis, she said, citing the increasingly certain projection that Africa’s population will reach 2.5 billion by 2050. In that context, she called for a shift in the continent’s place in the global trading system — from a source of raw materials to a place of modern agricultural systems with more access to cash and investments — as well as debt restructuring and efforts to build bridges among humanitarian assistance, development and peacebuilding. She also urged the international community to unite in upholding values of market openness with the understanding that food security is a transnational problem.
MICHAEL MOUSSA ADAMO, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Gabon, recalled that, through resolution 2417 (2018), the Security Council recognized the link between conflict and food insecurity. Countries in conflict are six times more at risk of famine. Conflict not only destroys civilian infrastructure that are necessary to produce and transport food, it uses hunger as a weapon of war. Agricultural facilities are deliberately targeted, and the displaced persons lack access to food. The COVID-19 pandemic aggravated the existing challenges, including hunger. Greater involvement of the international community essential to ending hunger. Respect for international humanitarian law and Council resolutions is essential, he stressed, recalling Member States’ obligation to allow unimpeded humanitarian access without politicization. Welcoming the establishment of the Global Crisis Response Group on Food, Energy and Finance, he reiterated his support for the Secretary-General appeal for global ceasefire and condemnation of attacks on civilian infrastructure. He also urged the Council to deepen its thinking on accountability for “crimes of famine”, as they are dehumanizing.
OLTA XHAÇKA, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Albania, said that “it is undeniable that conflict is now the main driver of hunger and food insecurity”, noting that the destruction of civilian infrastructure drastically reduces populations’ ability to produce food or earn income. Noting that close to 193 million people are acutely food insecure and in need of urgent assistance across 53 countries, she pointed out that “millions do not know when their next meal will come”. The Russian Federation’s aggression against Ukraine is further exacerbating already acute global food insecurity, and the blockade and destruction of critical Black Sea ports and other infrastructure is disrupting the critical supply of food commodities and agricultural inputs. “There is food in Ukraine, but it cannot get out of the country,” she said.
She went on to say that the war in Ukraine could push up to 40 million more people into poverty and hunger — “this is the sad reality” — and she stressed that the Council should play a more active role in considering and addressing conflict induced hunger. Humanitarian action and respect for international humanitarian law can only mitigate the effects of conflict on food systems, and therefore, political solutions to end conflicts are urgently needed. She also underscored that tackling global food insecurity requires urgent multilateral action in several key areas, including addressing the causes of food and nutrition crises, reducing the risk of further conflict and investing in sustainable food systems. Further, she supported the creation of a United Nations Special Envoy or focal point for the implementation of resolution 2417 (2018).
VICTOR MANUEL VILLALOBOS ARAMBULA, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development of Mexico, said that, in Latin America and the Caribbean, the most serious food security crisis is in Haiti, where half of the population requires food assistance, and more than 1 million people are living in extreme poverty. As an armed conflict in one place sooner or later will disrupt the entire food system, it is important to design alternatives that do not endanger food security globally, he said, noting that the Security Council has the tools to address those challenges. Recalling that resolution 2417 (2018) was an important step in recognizing the causal links between armed conflict and famine, he called for compliance with the provisions of relevant resolutions that have been adopted. Underscoring the importance of early warning mechanisms available to the United Nations system, he said humanitarian and development agencies must be able to identify and prevent situations that could lead to famine and the impact it could have on peace and international security. As well, exceptions should be made on humanitarian grounds to facilitate the work of those agencies in those circumstances. To end food insecurity in conflict situations, resources and priorities must be redirected to humanitarian action and addressing the underlying causes of conflicts, instead of increasing spending on weapons.
ANNE BEATHE TVINNEREIM, Minister of International Development of Norway, underscored that the Russian Federation’s invasion of Ukraine exacerbated an already strained global food security situation, causing the steep rise in global food prices and food insecurity. Meanwhile, those issues have the potential to spark unrest and conflicts, she said, underlining the Security Council’s preventive role to play, in line with resolution 2417 (2018). Recalling the recommendations jointly presented by FAO and WFP on food crises in countries with conflict situations, she noted that the acute global food insecurity situation is expected to deteriorate further. In that regard, she called on States to scale up investments in food production and resilience, both in and outside conflict zones. She also highlighted the role of small-scale food producers as the backbone of food systems and of women and girls as food producers, traders, consumers, decision makers and negotiators. Protecting women and girls from violence, including sexual and gender-based violence, is crucial to eliminating hunger, she said. She further noted that the war in Ukraine has also raised the spectre of mass starvation on Africa, which depends on food imports to feed itself.
LANA ZAKI NUSSEIBEH (United Arab Emirates), noted her country imports 90 per cent of its food, calling on the Council and the international community to act with urgency and at scale to relieve the food crisis. From Cairo to Cape Town, Africa is facing an acute shortage of food, which will undermine stability and security. She cited a WFP report stating that before the conflict in Ukraine, 276 million people were already in the grip of extreme hunger globally, with that number projected to reach 323 million in 2022. According to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), 13.6 million children worldwide under the age of five suffer from severe malnutrition, resulting in 1 in 5 deaths — a morally unfathomable situation juxtaposed against $430 trillion of global wealth. Food insecurity is a root cause and accelerator of conflict, she stated, calling for full respect of international humanitarian law. Sanctions must include necessary exceptions for food and agricultural products, she stressed, also calling on the Council to follow up on risk mitigation strategies regarding climate change. She noted that the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) reports that, on average, highly fragile countries receive a mere $2 per person of climate finance. The level of food insecurity and likelihood of growing needs “is a flashing alarm signal”, she warned, and the response must be commensurate with the magnitude of the global threat.
V. MURALEEDHARAN, Minister of State for External Affairs of India, said the global South has been adversely impacted both by the conflict in Ukraine and the measures put in place in response. Warning of repercussions if it does not give way to dialogue immediately, he said the collapse of economies and law and order already seen in some countries will only get worse. The challenges emanating from Ukraine require creative solutions, as shortages can only be addressed “by going beyond constraints that bind us presently”. In that context, he welcomed Secretary-General’s call for exempting purchases of food by WFP from food export restrictions, with immediate effect. Energy security is an equally serious concern, and must be addressed through greater sensitivity to other countries’ energy mix and import requirements, as well as by more mutual cooperative efforts. He warned against hoarding and speculation in food grain stocks and noted India’s announcement of new measures on wheat exports, which will allow the country to truly respond to those most in need. In addition, he cautioned against linking humanitarian and development aid with political progress, which will only exacerbate food insecurity in conflict situations.
COLM BROPHY, Minister of State for Overseas Development and the Diaspora of Ireland, said his country speaks to both conflict and food security from its own lived experiences. “It is unconscionable, that in our world of plenty, millions are on the brink of starvation,” he said, emphasizing that conflict is now the biggest driver of hunger, and by failing to act, the Council has a responsibility to bear. Sounding alarm over the situations in Somalia, northern Ethiopia, Mali, Haiti, South Sudan and Afghanistan, he said the illegal, unjustified invasion of Ukraine by the Russian Federation has caused immeasurable suffering with worldwide impacts on food security. “Our response, too often […] is to address the symptoms, not the disease,” he said. Humanitarian aid is provided to those trapped in conflicts, while the global community lacks the will or commitment to end them. Stressing that war is not inevitable, he said the Council must match its actions to the severity of the situation — which is “deepening on our watch” — and commit to doing things differently. “Just how many red flags and alarm bells are needed?”, he asked, calling for early action to reverse the frightening trends of conflict-induced food insecurity and famine.
BARBARA WOODWARD (United Kingdom) said Yemen is facing catastrophic levels of food insecurity for the fifth consecutive year. Refugees across the Sahel are suffering from increased violence and reduced humanitarian access. In Ethiopia and Somalia, people are grappling with the worst drought in 40 years. The Russian Federation ignored this suffering in choosing to invade Ukraine, the breadbasket of the world. And now, the world’s food supply chain is being throttled by the Russian Federation. Across the world, 2 million hungry children, who were already subsisting on a knife-edge, face starvation this year. The United Kingdom fully supports the United States-led Roadmap for Global Food Security and the Global Alliance launched under Germany’s Group of Seven presidency. The international community must enable the free movement of food. All WTO members must prohibit export restrictions. It is also vital to strengthen global resilience to prevent future famine risks. The United Kingdom will continue to pursue accountability of those using starvation as a weapon of war. The Russian Federation must end the conflict and the global shocks it is inflicting on the world’s poorest, she said.
VASSILY A. NEBENZIA (Russian Federation) said accusations suggesting that his country wants to starve everyone to death are false, pointing out that threats of a global food crisis did not arise this year. As Secretary General Rebecca Grynspan of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) pointed out recently, the problem relates to food distribution systems and not to a shortage of food products. Factors, including speculation on Western food futures markets, adverse weather conditions and unilateral illegal economic sanctions, are not the fault of the Russian Federation, but have laid the foundation for the current situation in agricultural markets, although Western delegations will not mention them almost at all. In the context of the active "proxy war" with the Russian Federation in Ukraine, Western delegations have essentially taken hostage the whole of the developing world leading it towards hunger, he said, adding that only they can change this situation.
He went on to dispute the claim that the Russian Federation is blocking agricultural exports from Ukraine, emphasizing that Russian armed forces tried opening a humanitarian corridor daily to provide a safe passage of vessels from Ukraine's territorial waters. Kyiv, on the other hand, is worming out of working with representatives of foreign vessel owners in resolving the issue. In addition, although the deliveries of agricultural production and fertilizers from the Russian Federation and Belarus could play a positive role, the illegal unilateral coercive measures applied to both countries are damaging the agricultural sector. Nonetheless, his country will have a record wheat harvest and from 1 August until the end of the year can offer to export 25 million tons of grain through the port in Novorossiysk. As well, from June to December, the potential exports of fertilizers will be at least 22 million tons. Addressing David Beasley of the World Food Programme, he asked if there have been any humanitarian shipments of Ukrainian grain through WFP since February, noting that his delegation has reason to believe that grain is not going to the hungry of the global South, but being stored in European countries, as payment by Ukraine for the weapons the West supplies.
NICOLAS DE RIVIÈRE (France) said 2022 will mark a new low in the food insecurity crisis, with the Sahel and Lake Chad, South Sudan, Horn of Africa, Yemen, Syria and Afghanistan on the front lines. However, the Russian Federation’s war against Ukraine is also a war against global food security, he stressed. While Moscow states that sanctions are destabilizing the world’s food security, he noted there are no sanctions on the food sector. “Let’s be clear: Russia alone is responsible,” he said. The unjustified and unjustifiable war waged by the Russian Federation prevents Ukraine from exporting its agricultural products, destabilizing global supply chains and driving higher prices. He called for the immediate cessation of Russian Federation hostilities and the withdrawal of Russian troops from Ukrainian territory, with exports resuming from that country’s ports. France, as President of the Council of the European Union, launched the Food and Agriculture Resilience Mission, or FARM, initiative, endorsed by the European Council, aiming to regulate agricultural markets, guarantee supply to the most vulnerable countries and accelerate the transition towards sustainable food systems, particularly in Africa. He noted that France continues to increase its financial contribution to food aid, which will reach €114 million in 2022, an increase of 241 per cent since 2018.
RONALDO COSTA FILHO (Brazil) pointed out that the conflict in Ukraine exacerbated the international food supply and production chains, which were already stressed to a breaking point by the pandemic. However, unilateral economic measures have a secondary impact on the operation of markets through sanctions on the finance and transport aspects of agricultural trade. Citing WFP and FAO, he emphasized that food insecurity is not a by-product of food scarcity, but rather of lack of affordability and access. Countries must also refrain from the unnecessary accumulation of food stocks, avoid trade-restrictive barriers, and abstain from imposing unilateral measures which may endanger a country’s capacity to participate in free international agricultural markets. There should be a truly universal, rules-based, open, non-discriminatory and equitable trade system in the longer-term. On the humanitarian front, emergency food aid cannot be a permanent solution. At some point, countries affected by conflicts will need to return to international markets and organize their food systems and supply chains in order to avoid the repetition of the hunger-conflict cycle. However, to do that, they will need adequate and targeted financing to bring their national supply back to order, as well as capacity-building and technology-transfers, he said, highlighting Brazil’s long-standing partnership with WFP and FAO to promote trilateral South-South cooperation, including in countries affected by conflict.
ZHANG JUN (China) stressed that food security is a top priority and a long-standing challenge facing the international community. The COVID-19 pandemic, extreme weather events, economic recession and geopolitical conflict led to sharp rises in prices, further exacerbating imbalance between supply and demand. As a result, developing countries were hit harder. It is imperative to strengthen coordination to stabilize the global food market. The international community must work together to address supply shortages, including by restoring the flow of foodstuffs and fertilizers from Ukraine, Russian Federation and Belarus, he said, rejecting attempts to weaponize economic interdependence. He thus called for speedy removal of restrictions on food production and trade caused by unilateral measures. It is also important to scale up emergency assistance as food insecurity is getting worse this year. When people don’t have enough to eat, social and security problems will arise, he said, with social unrest already seen in some countries. He called for a deep transformation of the global food system by addressing existing structural problems, such as a concentration of production in certain countries. To withstand risks, it is vital to help developing countries to become self-sufficient. He rejected hegemony and power politics and called for true multilateralism.
BILAWAL BHUTTO ZARDARI, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Pakistan, said that the COVID-19 pandemic, economic recession, rapidly rising prices and the escalating impacts of climate change have reversed global growth, and for the first time in 30 years, increased poverty and hunger. Meanwhile, with rising great Power rivalries, political dialogue has frequently frozen, and often, the Security Council has been paralysed. Eighty per cent of the world’s 800 million undernourished people and the 40 million facing famine inhabit countries driven by or emerging from conflict. Even those not directly involved in a conflict pay the price of war; the conflict in Ukraine puts Pakistanis at risk of going hungry, as his country relies heavily on wheat and fertilizer from that region. Spotlighting the suffering of people in occupied territories in Palestine and Indian-Occupied Jammu and Kashmir, he emphasized that Kashmir has become a symbol of the Organization’s and Council’s dysfunction. Actions in 2019 and 2022 by India were an insult to the people of Kashmir, United Nations and the Council’s resolutions, as well as to the fourth Geneva Convention. “Resolve the Kashmir dispute,” he stated, and watch how the farmers of Pakistan and India feed the world.
The world is still experiencing a deadly pandemic where millions have died; continents are sinking and the planet is under threat, he continued. “Is this not the time to rise above the conflicts of man and face the threats to humanity?”, he asked. Noting that Pakistan has seen the cost of war up close, he added: “We are exhausted by conflict.” After decades of conflict, ultimately, dialogue and diplomacy were the path to a conclusion. He urged countries in conflict to deploy dialogue and diplomacy in pursuit of peace before and not after the next great war. The international community must save another generation of humanity from the misery of conflict. “We can be the generation that ends hunger. We can be the generation that saves this planet. We can be the generation that breaks the cycle. If you let us,” he stated.
BOGDAN LUCIAN AURESCU, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Romania, said today’s debate is timely amid the dire circumstances generated by the Russian Federation’s brutal, unjustified and unprovoked illegal military aggression against Ukraine. Pointing out that Romania is the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and European Union member State sharing the largest border with Ukraine, he said it has been on the front lines of responding to the humanitarian crisis caused by the invasion. More than 1 million refugees have crossed the Ukrainian-Romanian border, where a humanitarian hub has been operating since March. Romania also recently answered WFP’s call to establish a presence in the country to facilitate emergency aid to Ukraine. Noting the global and multidimensional impacts of the crisis, he outlined Romanian efforts to facilitate the transit of grains, seeds and other food staples across the Danube River and the Black Sea, while also highlighting the importance of food systems for progress on climate, development, finance and other global priorities.
MÉLANIE JOLY, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Canada, noted that the Ukraine conflict has been the greatest shock to the already fragile global food system in the past 12 years. “In attacking one of the breadbaskets of the world, and seeking to cut off Ukraine’s economy, Russia is destroying Ukraine’s capacity to supply the world with food,” she said. Such reckless actions are leading directly to skyrocketing commodity prices and inflation. Impressed by the ongoing efforts to create a humanitarian sea corridor for food, she noted that her country is ready to help in making sure Ukrainian grain gets out of Ukraine to those who rely on it. Conflict leads to hunger, while underinvestment in agriculture and high food prices can cause political unrest and conflict. In that regard, her country has contributed more than $380 million to emergency food and nutrition assistance and has spent approximately $1 billion per year in gender-responsive humanitarian assistance to address rising global needs since 2020. Calling for long-term solutions that break the vicious cycle of poverty, hunger and conflict, she stressed the need to invest in climate-smart agricultural solutions. The participation of women is essential in breaking the cycle of conflict and food insecurity, she noted.
PÉTER SZIJJÁRTÓ, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade of Hungary, said that, as Ukraine’s neighbour, Hungary faces problems stemming from migratory flows of Ukrainians into the country. The food crisis has created a serious shortage on fragile areas of the world that are already experiencing starvation and were the recipients of Ukrainian wheat. Some of these recipient countries also received wheat exports from the Russian Federation. The food crisis will contribute to the growing threat of terror in some of these areas and to sustained migratory flows. The international community needs to make every effort to prevent a food crisis, he said, stressing the need to provide additional food supplies from alternative resources. Yet, there may not be enough resources in the world to meet global needs. A second step would be to help Ukrainian partners build their capacity. Hungary has delivered, for example, 10,000 kilogrammes of corn seeds, potatoes and sunflower seeds to farmers in the Western part of the Ukraine. Hungary is also taking into account the enormous increase in food prices and has implemented price caps.
JEAN ASSELBORN, Minister for Foreign and European Affairs of Luxembourg, said the Russian Federation’s unprovoked, unjustified aggression against Ukraine has plunged thousands of its citizens into destitution and despair, with blockaded grain exports afflicting vulnerable countries in Africa and the Middle East — where harvests are already affected by climate change and economic shocks. It is war that has caused the food crisis, he stressed, not sanctions. He agreed with the Secretary-General that there must be no restrictions on food exports, also applauding his decision to convene a global crisis response group for food, energy and financing to identify solutions. Luxembourg has contributed to efforts by adopting decisive measures to shore up food security and resilience, allocating 20 per cent of its annual humanitarian budget to WFP, FAO and International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) initiatives. Affirming his Government’s commitment to supporting the Sahel region, he called for swift collective global action to avoid the world’s worst food crisis and avert the ensuing sociopolitical and economic upheavals. “Hunger should not be manipulated as a weapon of war — neither in Ukraine nor anywhere else,” he said.
MANTAS ADOMENAS, Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs of Lithuania, also speaking for Estonia and Latvia, said the Russian Federation’s unjust war has caused unimaginable suffering in Ukraine, with people in Mariupol under siege for three months. Pointing out that starving civilians and the unlawful denial of humanitarian access as a method of warfare are prohibited by international humanitarian law and condemned by Council resolution 2417 (2018), he said the Russian Federation, a permanent Council member, behaves as if it was above the law. The effects of the Russian Federation’s war are reaching beyond Europe. If Moscow does not stop the war, the rise in food insecurity in 2022 and beyond will be catastrophic with far-reaching consequences. Describing the Russian Federation’s attempt to blame sanctions and detract attention as “poor”, he underscored that hunger and conflict are interlinked. The Russian Federation is attacking Ukraine’s agriculture on all fronts, blocking the transport of hundreds of ships filled with wheat in the Black Sea. His country, Latvia and Estonia are among the first to help Ukraine by shipping wheat through their ports to the world market. He urged the Global Crisis Response Group on Food, Energy and Finance to make effective recommendations in that regard.
KIYOSHI ODAWARA, State Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan, stressed the importance of realizing a “society where no one is left behind”, reflecting the philosophy of human security, which is an important pillar of his country’s foreign policy. The Russian Federation targeted critical civilian infrastructure, including that for agricultural production and transportation, in clear denial of Council resolutions 2417 (2018) and 2573 (2021). Japan decided to extend a $10 million emergency grant to help ease the food crisis in Yemen and his Government’s provision of food aid to Sri Lanka will also be decided shortly. It is important to treat Ukrainian grain exports as a humanitarian issue and to create political momentum. Tokyo advocates for the establishment of a humanitarian food corridor which would facilitate such exports, he said. Further, the next month’s ministerial meeting of the World Trade Organization (WTO) should reach agreement that food procurement by international organizations should not be subject to export restrictions.
MARIO ADOLFO BÚCARO FLORES, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Guatemala, said that the effects of the Russian Federation’s aggression on Ukraine are having a devastating impact on the global economy and the already record levels of food insecurity. Voicing his support for the people and Government of Ukraine, he appealed to the Council to uphold international humanitarian law and human rights law, as well as compliance with resolution 2417 (2018). On a national platform, he noted that Guatemala is very vulnerable to climate change and suffered a severe hurricane season, drought and loss of crops during the pandemic. This affected the poverty level and food insecurity and was driving irregular migration. The hunger crisis must be a priority on the international agenda, particularly in emergency and disaster situations. Such efforts should include building resilient communities, while also guaranteeing the global food supply. In addition, the Council should support early warning systems to provide Governments and humanitarian partners timely, reliable, precise and verifiable information in order to mitigate and prevent food crises in the event of armed conflict. Commending the Secretary-General’s Global Crisis Response Group, he also said that it is time to implement the volunteer commitments made at the Food System Summit. Citing Guatemala’s President Alejandro Giammattei Falla, he said his country is committed to promoting international efforts in line with national priorities in fighting malnutrition and hunger.
JENNY OHLSSON, State Secretary for International Development of Sweden, also speaking for Denmark, Finland, Iceland and Norway, recalled resolution 2417 (2018), which condemned the use of starvation as a method of warfare. At that time, 74 million people faced food insecurity or worse. Since then, the number has almost quadrupled, to 275 million, with most living in areas of conflict and with women and children bearing the brunt. “If that is not an argument enough for seriously stepping up our efforts, I am not sure what would be,” she said. The situation has deteriorated further because of the Russian Federation’s aggression against Ukraine. The Russian Federation must immediately allow the export of grain stuck in silos in Ukraine; that grain is enough to feed millions. As well, building and sustaining peace improves conditions for small-hold farmers to access land; communities to grow crops and diversify livelihoods; and for investments in sustainable and inclusive food systems — enabling agriculture to thrive, instead of being destroyed. The triple food, energy and finance crisis is one which can only be addressed collectively and multilaterally, she stressed, adding “we all have a role to play and a responsibility to shoulder”.
FRANO MATUŠIC, State Secretary for Political Affairs of the Ministry for Foreign and European Affairs of Croatia, voiced deep concern over the current state of global food security and malnutrition. The war in Ukraine has added yet another dimension to the crisis, as both Ukraine and the Russian Federation are critical to global food systems. The latter’s aggression has led to a dramatic surge in food, fertilizer and energy prices — with incalculable human consequences felt most notably in societies already exhausted by conflict. In its adoption of resolution 2417 (2018), the Council acknowledged the link between conflict and hunger and its impacts on global peace and security. “The resolution was conceived as an instrument to break the vicious cycle between armed conflicts and food insecurity,” he said. However, efficient action aimed at conflict prevention and resolution — as well as ensuring accountability for the use of starvation as a method of warfare — are still lacking. He voiced his strong support for the proposed General Assembly resolution on global food insecurity, which will hopefully contribute to better coordination among relevant stakeholders in support of countries affected by the food security crisis.
MARTA ELIDA GORDÓN, Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs of Panama, said the Russian Federation’s invasion of Ukraine is causing massive loss of life, a humanitarian crisis not seen since the Second World War. The conflict has led to a rapid global breakdown in food security due to the importance of both countries in supplying food stocks, affecting supply chains and prices, with consequences hitting the most vulnerable countries and population groups. Armed conflicts do not mitigate food insecurity, she stressed — even more so when parties to the conflict do not respect their obligations towards civilian protection and international humanitarian law. Dialogue and negotiation based on respect for the United Nations Charter remain the only way to restore international peace and security. She expressed support for the World Bank, IMF, WTO and WFP, working in in coordination to provide food and financial support to step up agricultural production and keep trade open.
SHAHRIAR ALAM, State Minister for Foreign Affairs of Bangladesh, said the 2021 report on the status of hunger presents a sobering picture, and the war in Ukraine has made the situation worse. In his country, agriculture accounts for 14 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP). It has had transformative impacts, generating employment and eradicating poverty. Bangladesh stands ready to share best practices in food security with other countries. He called for increased investment in technology to enhance agricultural productivity through leveraging international cooperation, including South-South and triangular cooperation. Calling for a more efficient and reliable global food system, he stressed the need to eliminate trade restrictions. He also urged Member States to fulfil their climate commitments and also expressed support for the notion of banning starvation as method of war.
PASCALE CHRISTINE BAERISWYL (Switzerland) said the changing climate, the Ukraine conflict and skyrocketing food and fuel prices have created a perfect storm. WFP has sounded the alarm and these crises will impact everyone. About 320 million people will need help with food, she said, adding that the most vulnerable people live in areas of armed conflict, which is a main contributor to food insecurity. The international community, including the Council, must act urgently to guarantee humanitarian access to areas of armed conflict. The international community must speak in one voice on food security. The General Assembly will take action on a resolution next week on the state of food security, which Switzerland has co sponsored, she noted, also emphasizing the importance of accountability and in bringing the perpetrators of violence to the International Court of Justice in instances in which crimes of famine occur. There is a lack of equality in access to food, she said, stressing the need for political solutions to end hunger and guarantee food access for all people.
MAHMOUD DAIFALLAH HMOUD (Jordan) said food insecurity is a major challenge in the Middle East, interlinked with conflict, requiring solutions based on international coordination. The effects of the pandemic have also led to a great increase in food insecurity for countries already facing the challenges of climate change, water shortage, economic crisis and unprecedented migration. The crisis in Jordan has revealed the weakness of supply chains, he noted, with an ensuing increase in the price of wheat and cereals. The World Bank has reported that these crises will have disastrous repercussions if humanitarian aid is not increased, he said. While the Middle East represents 6 per cent of global population, he noted it is home to 20 per cent of those facing food insecurity. However, the agricultural sector in Jordan employs 20 per cent of its population, representing a sector that can expand with greater investment and better technology.
CAROLINA ACHE, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Uruguay, said her country sees the current situation from the viewpoint of a food exporter. With a population of 3.5 million people, Uruguay produces food for about 30 million people and trades with more than 160 countries. Since Uruguay represents a sizable percentage of global food supplies, it can contribute to mitigating the effects of the global food crisis through exports. The war between the Russian Federation and Ukraine has disrupted food and fertilizer distribution chains and increased the price of food commodities, especially cereals. The current situation may favour the exporting countries, but the impact of price increases can also create challenges for controlling inflation, through the increase of production costs mainly due to the rise in fuel and fertilizer prices. This impacts the purchasing power of the population, she said, noting that several countries in Latin America are facing these challenges. It is therefore imperative to deepen international cooperation, both North-South, South-South and triangular cooperation.
SURIYA CHINDAWANGSE (Thailand) said the food crisis and rising agricultural prices are impacting people throughout the world. All of this has placed the global goals in the intensive care unit. Girls and women are particularly affected. He said some actions could be taken to alleviate the food crisis, noting that creating sustainability and food regulations are essential to food security. Dependable supply chains are needed to produce adequate agriculture and food products, he said, stressing that food should not be a part of any United Nations sanctions. Moreover, food waste should be minimized and alternative foods to provide proteins for people should be developed. Additional international cooperation is necessary, along with practical steps on a regional basis. He looks forward to the Assembly resolution on food security next week. Thailand is committed to the safe, affordable food plan outlined in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation road map.
RAUF DENKTAS (Turkey) noted that Council resolution 2417 (2018) recognized for the first time the links between conflict and food insecurity. In that context, the humanitarian crisis in Syria is as grave as ever, with 14.6 million requiring humanitarian assistance, and the use of starvation as a frequent tactic of war. The United Nations cross-border mechanism has proven to be a life-saving instrument, he stated, but the Council must act to alleviate the suffering of the Syrian people. He further described other catastrophic food crises, including 20 million people in Afghanistan facing extreme food insecurity, conflict driving 17.4 million in Yemen to require food assistance, and 15 million people in the Horn of Africa suffering from severe drought. Turning to Ukraine, he condemned the unjustified illegal act of aggression against a founding member of the United Nations, stressing: “This war has to end.” Turkey is working to ease the humanitarian situation and facilitating efforts towards a negotiated settlement. However, atrocities in Bucha and Mariupol have complicated that process, with momentum lost, but talks have not completely collapsed. He noted that 45 African countries import one third of their wheat from Ukraine or the Russian Federation. It is crucial to ensure transparency in agricultural commodity flows and combat speculation, with the international community placing global food security at the top of its agenda.
OSAMA MAHMOUD ABDELKHALEK MAHMUD (Egypt) drew particular attention to the risk of conflict erupting in countries with economic vulnerability and food insecurity. Failure to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 2 on hunger in turn poses a threat to stability. It is imperative to ensure access of food aid to civilians in conflict areas and to avoid famine. The Security Council has a responsibility to protect civilians from conflict, as well as from famine. The United Nations system must take a proactive approach and enhance its early warning capability, he said, citing a Council resolution requesting the Secretary-General to report early signs of food insecurity leading to instability. His country is among the most densely populated water-scarce countries, he said, urging the international community to address the needs of these countries.
OMAR HILALE (Morocco) said international peace and security and the eradication of hunger and food insecurity are priorities for the country. Food insecurity has created severe problems in Africa. More than 800 million people suffer every day from chronic malnutrition. The continent needs to import food products and relies on these imports to feed its people. The pandemic and armed conflict have increased food insecurity, which is now accompanied by a hike in food prices, he said, stressing the need to prevent conflicts that may break out from greater food insecurity. Morocco has invested in food production through South-South cooperation and promoted new opportunities for female farmers and young farmers. He called for innovative, inclusive food production partnerships, noting that Morocco has signed 38 agreements and conventions with 18 African countries to promote agriculture. It has also organized a food summit with the United Nations.
MAJID TAKHT RAVANCHI (Iran), citing the Global Report on Food Crises for 2022, noted that acute food insecurity has increased significantly over the last six years. Conflict is still the leading cause of food insecurity for 139 million people in 24 countries who faced a crisis or worsening conditions in 2021. Food insecurity, climate change, COVID-19 and the negative effects of conflicts all affect many countries including Iran, which has also been suffering from the United States sanctions for more than four decades. Hosting several million refugees has put a strain its economy including its food supply, he noted, calling for technical and financial assistance from the international community for refugees based there. Turning to the situation of food security in the region, he highlighted that in Afghanistan, there are 22 million people who are food insecure and in desperate need of assistance. In early 2022, acute food insecurity in Yemen worsened, with an 8 per cent increase in the number of people in need compared to early 2021. Unilateral coercive measures violate basic human rights including the right to food, resulting in food insecurity, he said, stressing that food supply and chain processes must not be disrupted in any way, even during armed conflicts.
MYRIAM OEHRI (Liechtenstein) expressed particular concern about so-called “hunger hotspots”, including Yemen, Nigeria, South Sudan and Ethiopia, as well as the many countries at risk of an acute hunger crisis. “Without concerted action, the devastating impact of hunger will soon be felt by millions more people,” she warned. Meanwhile, the war in Ukraine continues to have devastating humanitarian consequences, including on millions of people around the world who are reliant on that country’s grain silos. The massive displacement and destruction of infrastructure — as well as rising grain and fertilizer prices — will lead to even more catastrophic food shortages in the future. Against that backdrop, she said, the unprovoked, unacceptable aggression against Ukraine must end immediately with the immediate, complete and unconditional withdrawal of Russian military forces. Echoing other speakers in calling for the prosecution of all instances where civilians are starved as a tactic of war — including by the International Criminal Court — she welcomed the establishment of the Global Crisis Response Group on Food, Energy and Finance and urged more holistic action by the international community to achieve the goal of zero hunger by 2030.
BOŠTJAN MALOVRH (Slovenia) pointed out that the unprovoked Russian Federation military aggression against Ukraine introduces yet another layer of extreme food insecurity on a global level. Citing FAO estimates at the beginning of April that the potential direct damage to Ukrainian agriculture assets was around $6.4 billion, he noted that damages to the Ukraine’s agricultural capacities are increasing by the day and expressed deep concern over the Russian blockade of Ukrainian ports which is preventing the shipping of agricultural products. Recalling the words of the Secretary-General: "If you don't feed people, you feed conflict," he expressed his support for a whole-of-United Nations approach in the discussion of the causes and impacts of food insecurity. He also spotlighted the need for the inclusion of the civil society, emphasizing that such inclusion helps in understanding local contexts and finding better solutions. Addressing the issue of hunger is a foundation for stability and peace and the interconnected nature of food security and the fragile state of the current global food system demands a show solidarity and renewed commitment to multilateralism, he said.
MOHAMED ENNADIR LARBAUI (Algeria) said the alarming reality is that the past 10 years have witnessed an increase in conflicts and their severity, climate change and economic decline, worsened by the pandemic. In that context, he cited a discrepancy between regions, with Africa being one of the most vulnerable, with the most people suffering from conflict and related comorbidities, and some of the highest rates of malnutrition according to WFP. Instability in the Sahel and Horn of Africa are behind increases in food insecurity, as conflicts impact agriculture, as well as efforts to deal with malnutrition. Algeria offers food aid to neighbouring countries and is working on development programmes to help the region. He stressed the importance of delinking conflict from food insecurity by feeding people, strengthening productivity and supply chains. The international community must build lasting peace through permanent solutions to break the vicious cycle of violence, further building partnerships to give all stakeholders a role in alleviating the humanitarian burden that limits States’ efforts towards food security.
ADAM KUYMIZAKIS (Malta), associating him with the European Union, said food insecurity reinforces and exposes inequalities that exist among and within populations, with the situations in Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen, Ethiopia, Somalia, South Sudan and Haiti clearly illustrating the gravity and urgency of the current crisis. Food insecurity also highlights the evident disproportionate impacts borne by women and girls, especially in agricultural areas, as rural women account for nearly half of the agricultural workforce in developing countries. Against that backdrop, the unjustified and unprovoked aggression by the Russian Federation against Ukraine continues to negatively impact food systems worldwide, with alarming cascading repercussions on import-dependent countries. Expressing Malta’s full commitment to coordinating efforts to mitigate the current food crisis, he said multilateralism — alongside a multi-stakeholder approach and strong political will — is the best option going forward.
CRISTIAN ESPINOSA CAÑIZARES (Ecuador) said that, during the FAO Regional Conference held in Quito from 28 March to 1 April, the agency’s Director-General warned about the increase in hunger and food insecurity in Latin America and the Caribbean. According to the Secretary-General’s report of 15 February, more than 40 per cent of Haitians need humanitarian assistance, with 4.4 million people experiencing food insecurity, and more than 19,000 people displaced by gang violence. That same report recognizes that food insecurity caused by conflict are the main factors driving humanitarian needs. In the special emergency sessions of the General Assembly, a resolution on the humanitarian consequences of the aggression against Ukraine was adopted. The military aggression against Ukraine has increased global food insecurity, and its consequences are also felt in Ecuador, he said. Ecuador is bidding for a seat in the Security Council for the 2023-2024 term, he noted, pledging to give the issue of hunger and food security a priority focus.
SATYENDRA PRASAD (Fiji), speaking for the Pacific Islands Forum, said that the Russian Federation’s illegal invasion of Ukraine has resulted in a grave humanitarian crisis, increased geopolitical instability and increased pressure on already struggling global food markets. Most Pacific Island countries are net importers of food and energy. Rising prices, supply-chain disruptions and natural disasters, such as those in Fiji and Tonga, have led to inflationary pressure in many such States. A prolonged conflict in Ukraine will further exacerbate supply chain issues, with continued increases to energy prices, shipping rates and the cost of manufacturing goods. Global record-high fertilizer prices are impacting Fijian farmers, which may translate to higher production costs, higher food prices and lower yields. Detailing the effects of increasing prices on Forum members, he also pointed out that the Russian Federation and Ukraine are the main producers of the sunflower oil that tuna processors depend on for the production of canned tuna. “Our primary concern must be the immediate cessation of hostilities in Ukraine,” he said, also calling for action to promote resilience in global food supply networks.
However, the international community cannot afford to limit resources to other major challenges such as COVID-19 recovery and climate change, which remains the single greatest threat to the livelihoods and security of Pacific Island peoples. Speaking in his national capacity, he stressed that the risk of social unrests arising from food shortages arising from the conflict are real. Further, Fiji is struggling with the devastating impacts of climate change and COVID-19, including 14 cyclones that wiped out close to 50 per cent of its gross domestic product (GDP). “We have used every fiscal resource we can muster to respond to these challenges,” he said, adding that the global food crisis exposes how the global financial architecture, largely broken, needs to be able to respond to global crisis such as the food crisis. “The greatest steps that you can take today are not those that extend war; but those that will build peace. We urge you to take those steps,” he said.
OLOF SKOOG, Head of the European Union, delegation in its capacity as observer, said blaming the bloc’s sanctions for increased global food prices is a weak attempt to conceal the truth and divert action from where it is needed. He clarified that the sanctions target the Kremlin’s ability to finance its aggression against Ukraine and its people, rather than targeting the agricultural sector. Highlighting the action plan on European Union-Ukraine Solidarity Lanes launched last week, he said they are intended to create alternative logistical routes and ensure that much-needed grains can be exported from Ukraine to the rest of the world, as the Black Sea routes remain blocked by the aggressor.
In addition to scaling up tailored humanitarian assistance, ensuring food affordability is a priority in the short-term, he emphasized. Noting that 60 per cent of the middle- and low-income countries are already in debt distress or at high risk of distress, he said the war’s impact on food and commodity prices will further exacerbate that trend. In that regard, the European Union response will support the fiscal and macroeconomic stability of those countries, he added. In the medium and long term, the European Union is helping countries transition towards resilient and sustainable agricultural and aquatic food systems.
ANDREAS HADJICHRYSANTHOU (Cyprus) said the Council must act to stop the conflict in Ukraine and ensure that its humanitarian impact on other conflicts is not exacerbated and that the food insecurity it generates does not create new conflicts or unrest. Stressing the need for better planning, he said solutions are vital to address a scenario in which food production comes to a halt due to conflict. Contingency planning could also seek to align grain stocks with country needs, with allocations made to existing conflicts afflicted by food crises. In addition, the Global Crisis Response Group could go beyond the task of alleviating the current crisis and extrapolate lessons learnt to create a blueprint for a comprehensive strategy to prevent and tackle similar situations, he said.
MAURIZIO MASSARI (Italy), aligning himself with the European Union, said the impact of war on global food supply chains is now directly threatening at least 50 million people in the most vulnerable countries, and there are record high food prices in the global markets. The situation requires urgent and decisive action on multiple fronts. It must be ensured that food currently blocked in Ukraine can flow and reach its destinations, especially in Africa, the Mediterranean and Central Asia. The blockade of ports, such as the port of Odessa, is very concerning and cooperative solutions to ensure the safe passage of food to the world must be found, he said. Italy supports the creation of food corridors, to be agreed among parties with United Nations support and coordination, including within the context of the United Nations Global Crisis Response Group. Italy also supports the European Commission’s initiative to establish “Solidarity Lanes” to facilitate the shipping of Ukrainian goods to the rest of the world by using alternative routes through European Member States. Italy’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Luigi DiMaio, on Wednesday announced an additional financial contribution to FAO and its “Food Coalition” to support Ukraine’s food production capabilities. It also signed the “Road Map for Global Food Security — Call to Action”, he said, stressing that this reaffirmed the country’s commitment to acting with urgency, at scale, and in concert to respond to the urgent food security needs.
SAMUEL MONCADA (Venezuela) said it is a contradiction that the same countries that claim there is a global food crisis and food insecurity are imposing sanctions on other countries. It is not possible to propose food solutions and then violate the rights of many people. Unilateral coercive measures are a deliberate violation of people’s rights to food and their human rights, he said. The humanitarian crisis has been worsened by the pandemic and climate change. It is creating economic suffocation and isolation for many countries. Describing unilateral coercive measures as a measure of economic warfare, he said they violate international supply chains and increase food instability. Food, medicine and essential goods are not exempt from these sanctions. They have an adverse impact in Venezuela and on the African continent, in which many vulnerable countries are in current crisis. The planned isolation of the Russian Federation is an unacceptable proposal from every view, he stressed. Coercion on the rest of world to prevent legal trade with the Russian Federation is illegal and creates risks of food security for hundreds of millions of people. Venezuela has proposed the lifting of the unilateral coercive measures as an urgent step to tackle the imminent food crisis, which will affect everyone, whether due to food shortages or inflation.
LACHEZARA STOEVA (Bulgaria), associating herself with the European Union, noted that conflict remains the key driver in exacerbating the food crisis, both as a cause and effect, alongside climate change and COVID-19. Noting that the Russian Federation’s aggression against Ukraine has made food insecurity its weapon of choice, she pointed to the 1.7 billion people affected by its blockading of Ukraine’s ports, thereby impacting that country’s grain exports. She went on to call for greater investment in agricultural production, innovation and technological advancements to tackle food insecurity. Supporting the most vulnerable is an essential element in fighting food insecurity, she said, urging stressing a multistakeholder approach to avert a global food crisis.
ALYA AHMED SAIF AL-THANI (Qatar) said her country is committed to upholding its humanitarian responsibilities regarding food insecurity, directing much of its international assistance to hunger and nutrition through the United Nations. These efforts include the Qatar Fund for Development, which signed an agreement with the WFP in 2021 to provide $90 million of food assistance to more than 7 million people in Yemen. Qatar has also provided hundreds of tons of aid to Afghanistan via an airbridge to Kabul and is working to rehabilitate the airport there. It was rated highest in the Arab world on the world food security index in 2021, she said. The Government launched an initiative to form the Global Dryland Alliance to fill gaps in research strategies and policies to help dryland countries prevent food crises and exchange assistance. The Alliance, which now has observer status in the General Assembly, has pledged up to $200 million for targeted projects, and has signed an agreement with FAO to help Somalia address climate change and other crises.
MARÍA BASSOLS DELGADO (Spain) said that her country’s humanitarian action plan allocated more than €15 million to help meet the needs in the Sahel, Syria, Latin America and the Caribbean and Saharawi refugee camps, including through WFP. Welcoming the creation of the Global Crisis Response Group, she said it is responding to the “perfect storm” that requires coordination of the humanitarian, development, peace pillars and security. Coordination with WTO, IMF and the World Bank is essential. Equally so is the strengthening of global governance through the Committee on World Food Security. The international community has the necessary tools to reverse negative trends. Food insecurity and conflict represent a vicious cycle in which the former aggravates the latter, and the latter, in turn, causes the former. Conflict-induced famine deepens vulnerabilities and entrenches cycles of violence, as recognized by resolution 2417 (2018). She added that Spain supports data collection that provides the necessary evidence for the proper compliance with the resolution.
LUZ DEL CARMEN ANDÚJAR (Dominican Republic), speaking on behalf of the Group of Friends of Action on Conflict and Hunger, said the Group works to ensure the issues of food insecurity and hunger remain high on the Security Council’s agenda. The Council’s adoption of resolution 2417 (2018) underscored the imperative to address conflict-induced food insecurity. It asked the Secretary-General to report to the Council when food insecurity is threatening people. Conflicts and climate change are creating increases in the prices of agricultural products and upheaval in global supply chains. The Russian Federation’s aggression against Ukraine will aggravate the world food crisis.
The Council needs to know the root causes of conflicts that cause food insecurity and famine, she emphasized. Humanitarian law must be upheld. Further, the Group is deeply concerned about price hikes, she said, adding that food insecurity is a manmade and preventable tragedy. Speaking in her national capacity, she said evidence has shown that armed conflict and extreme climate events are drivers of food insecurity. It is the responsibility of this Council and all Member States to work towards peace and promote a necessary and cohesive global response to this challenge.
YOSEPH KASSAYE YOSEPH (Ethiopia) said risks to global trade recovery and increases in food prices should not be confused with the more embedded problem of food insecurity. As the rising costs of food seriously strains Ethiopia’s national capacity, efforts are under way to achieve national development objectives and boost self-sufficiency. On a larger scale, however, the situation calls for concerted action towards improving production and productivity in developing countries, rectifying the prevailing unbalanced international trade system, and providing urgent debt relief, restructuring and cancellation. Noting that Africa is a continent endowed with vast arable land, water and labour — the potential of which, if harnessed adequately, can feed beyond its population — he called for more national and regional efforts to do so, supplemented by international support and investment. Meanwhile, fair international trade practices that yield sustainable development are also crucial, as are scaled up efforts to resolve conflicts and support those in need through humanitarian aid.
VALENTIN RYBAKOV (Belarus) said his country is fully self-sufficient in food production and contributes to international food production. He detailed the causes of food insecurity, including food waste — up to 40 per cent in developed countries — ineffective distribution systems, and aggressive trade policies. The latter mechanism is frequently abused by some countries through the application of sanctions. FAO, WFP, WTO and IMF all referred to the nefarious effect of unilateral restrictions and sanctions on food security, and the World Bank cited the negative effects of sanctions imposed by the European Union, United States, Ukraine and Canada on Belarussian potassium fertilizer. Yet, those States were not ready then or now to listen to international institutions and experts on the issue. The sponsors of restrictive measures are looking for reasons to introduce even more sanctions, he said, citing the conflict in Ukraine as the reason for all the ills of mankind, while forgetting other global crises. The West imposed sanctions because it did not like the result of elections in Belarus and made claims that such sanctions would bring freedom to the Belarus people. He called on the sponsors of unilateral restrictions to rethink their policies and political prejudices.
HOANG GIANG DANG (Viet Nam) said it is high time the international community commits to ensuring food security as a key element of guaranteeing sustainable peace and development. In the longer term, food systems must be transformed into green, sustainable and low-emission models that are resilient and responsive to food security challenges, he added. Resolving conflict and preventing relapse are critical in breaking the vicious cycle of conflict and hunger, he emphasized, calling for further international initiatives to help address the root causes of conflicts. He went on to state that his country has actively contributed to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)’s efforts in ensuring stable food supplies in order to safeguard the region’s food security, particularly during the pandemic, noting that Viet Nam aspires to become a “food innovation hub” in the region.
PHILIPPE KRIDELKA (Belgium) said the link between conflict and food insecurity recognized by Council resolution 2417 (2018) cannot be understated under the current context, citing the Russian Federation’s aggression against Ukraine. Nothing else other than immediately stopping the war will make it possible to bring stability to the world food market and avoid famine. He expressed appreciation to the Secretary-General for putting together the Global Crisis Response Group. The international community must act without delay, making the global food system more resilient to shocks. Access to food is a human right, he declared, stressing the importance of raising this awareness by supporting civil society organizations and small-scale farmers.
HYUNJOO OH (Republic of Korea) said the world is seeing dire new risks of rising food and fuel prices. It is on the verge of a hunger catastrophe. This is a massive setback for the world economy as Governments were beginning to address the legacy of the pandemic. She detailed several priority areas aimed at mitigating the impact of the current food shortage. One priority is targeted assistance for the most vulnerable people affected by surging food and fertilizer prices. Farmers, for example, must be provided with increased access to financing. Development assistance must be set up for regions that are hardest hit by the food crisis. Governments must work to assure bottlenecks in agricultural supply chains are dissolved and back up existing social safety nets. For the longer term, there must be open trade and global markets. A free, rules-based trading system will build resilience against future shocks. Governments must create enabling environments for more resilient trade. However, an end to the war would have the most positive effect on the food crisis. In the meantime, the international community must help the most heavily affected countries, she said.
MATHU JOYINI (South Africa), noting today’s theme is closely aligned with the African Union Year of Nutrition for 2022, stated that the global outlook on food insecurity is bleak, putting millions of people at risk of malnutrition and hunger. In conflict settings, hunger is a consequence of war, and is also at times used as a weapon. She called on all parties to conflict to comply with resolution 2417 (2018), also expressing concern over the plight of internally displaced persons, migrants and refugees who are fully reliant on humanitarian assistance. Noting food insecurity is a human and economic development issue, requiring the involvement of relevant United Nations agencies, she welcomed the creation of the Global Crisis Response Group on Food, Energy and Finance. When food supply chains are disrupted as result of conflict, the Council must address those root causes. Warning that economic sanctions may inadvertently exacerbate hunger in countries in conflict settings, she called for them to be lifted.
CAROLYN SCHWALGER (New Zealand) said the Russian Federation’s illegal invasion of Ukraine, not sanctions, is causing food shortages and price spikes in key food commodities and fertilizers, calling on that country to end the pointless war. New Zealand is collaborating with international partners to respond to the growing food security crisis, including providing flexible and multi-year funding to FAO, WFP, UNDP and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), as well as giving support to address specific humanitarian crises. Countries must resist actions that hinder trade in essential foods and agricultural commodities, she said, stressing that export restrictions, hoarding and similar trade-distorting measures only worsen global food security. Earlier this month, her country signed onto the United Kingdom-led Joint Statement on Open and Predictable Trade in Agricultural and Food Products delivered to WTO, she said, urging Member States to ensure that any emergency measures do not distort or restrict trade, are temporary and consistent with WTO rules. As the increase in frequency and magnitude of extreme weather-related events threatens the safe production and distribution of food in the Indo-Pacific region and around the world, the Council must take unified action on the worsening food security crisis for the benefit of all in the international community, she concluded.
ROBERT DAVID MURPHY, observer for the Holy See, said the dignity of the human person must be at the centre of all efforts to tackle food insecurity. This requires respect for and compliance with international humanitarian law, which prohibits the starvation of civilians as a method of warfare and the impediment of humanitarian access. Treating food only as a commodity, supplied through “the cold logic of the market”, will not be enough to ensure that everyone has access to safe, uncontaminated and sufficient food. Committing to and advancing gradual and systematic disarmament remains crucial to curb hostilities, which contributes directly to increased social unrest and food insecurity. Other factors that further exacerbate conflict-induced hunger, including the effects of climate change, should be monitored and addressed. Referring to the Pope Saint Paul VI’s proposal to establish a global fund to assist those most impoverished, drawing partially from military expenditures, he said that such a fund, as noted by Pope Francis in Fratelli Tutti, would contribute to putting an end to hunger and favour development in the most impoverished countries. This, in turn, would ensure their citizens will not resort to violent or illusory solutions.
KYAW MOE TUN (Myanmar) noted that since the illegal coup in 2021, the illegitimate military regime has been inflicting enormous sufferings on the Myanmar people, from repeated brutal massacres and torture to mass displacement. According to the United Nations Development Programme, half of the population of Myanmar — more than 25 million people — is now living under the national poverty line. There are now 6.2 million people in need of life-saving support in the country. Basic food prices have risen by 30 per cent. Millions of families have been driven into desperation and hunger. So far, about 1,850 people have been brutally murdered by the Junta forces, and nearly 600,000 civilians displaced since the coup. The military’s strategy to quell any potential support for anti-coup resistance includes the cutting of essential food resources, burning down houses, and making every attempt to control access to humanitarian assistance. These ongoing inhumane policies of the military have direct impact on food security in the country, he said, adding that his country’s experience demonstrates that the impact of conflicts on food insecurity is not necessarily the inevitable result of collateral damage. In most cases, it is deliberate, he said, calling on the Security Council to act whenever the tactic of deliberate starvation is used to serve military objectives.
RENÉ ALFONSO RUIDÍAZ PÉREZ (Chile) said that acute food insecurity is likely to worsen in 20 countries. It is worrying that between 2018 and 2021, the number of people experiencing crisis levels of food insecurity driven by conflict increased from 73 million to 139 million. The countries with a higher level of poverty and weaker political institutions were hit harder. He condemned the use of starvation as a method of warfare and reaffirmed the importance of States conducting full investigations independently, impartially and within their jurisdiction on this type of violation. He also said that it was important to look to the future with concrete solutions to promote international cooperation. Recalling the International Decade of Family Farming (2019-2028) and the International Decade of Action on Nutrition (2016-2025), he urged actions to address the world food crisis.
SERHII DVORNYK (Ukraine), noting that his country is a reliable contributor to global food security and one of its main food suppliers, he underscored that his Government fully shared the commitment to act with urgency on the issue. In the past years, the food security situation was challenging for the most vulnerable, particularly due to Covid-19. Regrettably, instead of recovery, a world emerging from the pandemic has faced a new threat: a full-fledged war by the Russian Federation against Ukraine. In addition to violating international law, the Russian Federation has also harmed food security, as some 400 million people worldwide depend on Ukrainian grain exports. Now, due to blockages of Ukrainian seaports, the export of grain has almost stopped. In pre-invasion times, Ukraine exported 5 million tons of grain per month. Those numbers have dwindled to 200,000 tons in March, and 1.1 million tons in April.
Large areas in the East and South of Ukraine remain places of combat action or occupation, leading to expectations that the 2022 harvest will be just 50 per cent of last year’s yield, he continued. The Russian Federation is also seizing Ukrainian grain for its own consumption or to illegally sell it on international markets, having already stolen at least 400,000 to 500,000 tons. Warning that any country that knowingly purchases the stolen grain will be considered complicit in the crime, he demanded that the Russian Federation stop grain theft, unblock Ukrainian seaports, restore freedom of navigation and allow trade ships to pass. This is a war of choice by President Vladimir Putin, he stressed. It will also be his choice in regard to the food crisis; there will be no doubt who is responsible if millions of people face starvation. Rejecting any manipulative narrative that sanctions make it impossible for the Russian Federation to address the issue of agricultural exports, he pointed out that as soon Moscow is compelled to end the war, the looming threat of hunger will be over.
MARK ZELLENRATH (Netherlands) said it is “simply not true” that European and other sanctions are to blame for increasing food insecurity, underscoring that European restrictive measures are targeted, in accordance with international law, and aim to uphold and strengthen it. Large-scale armed conflict disrupts food markets, she pointed out, expressing concern over reports from Yemen of indiscriminate attacks, bombing of water wells and extensive mining of agricultural land rendering it useless — actions that worsen an already dire humanitarian situation. Referring to Council resolution 2417 (2018), which calls on the Secretary-General to report to the Council in instances where conflict leads to severe food insecurity, he expressed support for the United States’ proposal to submit such reports twice a year, calling on all Council members to give their full attention to the matter. Reports of hunger-related violations of international humanitarian law should be taken seriously and incidents investigated, she said, stressing that accountability is key to ending grave violations. The international community must work towards more resilient food systems, she said, noting that the 2021 United Nations Food Systems Summit has laid the groundwork in that regard.
Source: United Nations