Statement at the Arria-formula Meeting on Conflict and Hunger
Statement21 April 2022
Our briefers, you have left us in no doubt really about the scale of what we are facing by way of food insecurity across the globe.
And I think, it highlights again not just to Council Members, but to everyone in this house, the inextricable and, I think, insidious links between vulnerability, food insecurity and conflict.
I’d like to say that hunger isn’t an abstract idea in Ireland.
Our own famine, which was 175 years ago, has left a remarkable echo, profoundly shaping our outlook and demographics to this day in Ireland.
As a nation, we are repulsed at the notion of death through starvation.
Our conviction, born of that lived experience, is that in a world of plenty, there can be no excuse for famine today.
Yet in spite of international commitments, many, many international commitments, to eliminate hunger, we hear that hunger is rising at an alarming rate. Increasingly, as we have just heard from our briefers, conflict is a major cause of rising hunger levels.
As we look across the agenda of the Security Council we are proud to sit on, the spectre of conflict and hunger looms really large.
However, I have to say, the frequency with which the Council addresses it belies the severity of the threat it poses to food systems, and, importantly, the threat it poses to people’s lives.
As we have heard today, more than 139 million people, a huge number, are suffering the consequences of conflict-induced hunger.
In Yemen, the scale and duration of the conflict has entirely eroded the country’s ability to produce desperately needed food.
Persistent conflict in Ethiopia has been a significant factor in driving to alarming rates, millions of people into emergency levels of food insecurity.
As Somalia’s conflict cycle becomes more entrenched, over half of the population face severe hunger.
Insecurity caused by armed gang conflict in Haiti has had a detrimental impact on an already fragile and fractured food system.
We know that more than half of the population of Syria are food insecure following a decade of conflict.
So, to put it simply, conflict-induced food insecurity continues to rise, and rise, and rise.
And just as with conflict itself, this food insecurity is proven to have gendered impacts, with women often eating last and eating least.
In 2018, a clear understanding of the causal effect of conflict on the ‘four famines’ brought the Security Council together to act.
The unanimous adoption of Resolution 2417 was truly a watershed moment. A landmark recognition of the impact of conflict on global hunger.
Today we are convening in the shadow of another conflict-induced food security crisis. One unforeseen just eight weeks ago. The Russian Federation’s illegal, unjustified invasion of Ukraine has caused immeasurable suffering in Ukraine.
It has also led to a dramatic surge in food, fertiliser and energy prices.
The impact of Russia’s actions extends far beyond Ukraine’s sovereign borders.
Indeed, it reverberates across the globe. 47 million additional people may experience acute hunger in 2022 as a result of Russia’s aggression.
We know that both Ukraine and Russia are critical to global food systems.
What we are witnessing now is a major disruption to harvest, planting and supply chains for essential foods and materials.
What we are witnessing now is the direct and indirect acceleration of hunger for tens of millions of people. Collateral damage of an unwarranted, unwanted war.
How many lives will be lost before we in this house wake up to the terrible, costly impact of conflict and hunger?
Our responsibility, collectively and individually, is simple. It is clearly set out in Resolution 2417.
What’s needed now, as ever, is for all of us to get on with it and do our job:
To prevent conflict before it begins,
To end conflicts before they result in hunger, and
To hold to account those who use hunger as a weapon of war.
In closing, our hope is that today’s meeting will go some way to reinvigorating our collective will to break the vicious cycle between conflict and hunger.
We hope we might leave here today, with a clear-eyed, determined view that we should prevent further suffering. To prevent hunger and to lay the foundations for stability and peace.
I know for one, my country Ireland will continue to sound the alarm on this issue and I really urge you all to join us.
So I thank you for the time for my own remarks, and I am now going to turn to the Members of the Security Council.