In May 2022, DSAI publish a timely new Policy Brief on Conflict, Hunger and UN Security Council Resolution 2417. Caitriona Dowd, who compiled the briefing with input from across the DSAI membership, tells us a little more about the significance of this publication.
Can you tell us what the report is about?
The briefing addresses one of the most pressing global crises of our time: conflict-driven hunger. As of May 2022, 193million people in 53 countries are considered to be in what the Food Security Information Network (FSIN) labels ‘Crisis’ phase or worse (FSIN, 2022: 6), and conflict and insecurity are recognised as the single most significant driver of this crisis. Four years ago, in response to the widespread threat of famine globally, the UN Security Council passed Resolution 2417 on the protection of civilians, the first resolution of its kind to explicitly link conflict and hunger. Unfortunately, several years later, the global food security situation has deteriorated further, rather than improved. This policy brief explores the linkages between conflict-driven hunger, and identifies specific opportunities for policy action for the Irish government both through implementation of, and complimenting, UNSCR 2417.
Why is this briefing particularly important or timely now?
First, there is an urgent humanitarian need: the world is already in the throes of a global food security crisis, a situation compounded by the global health crisis and growing food system crisis owing to war in Ukraine. Without rapid, coordinated and meaningful action, it is likely to deteriorate further.
Second, there is also a particularly timely opportunity to address this crisis: the Irish government has historically had a strong focus on hunger and nutrition in its international development policy, including through initiatives such as the Hunger Task Force. Irish representatives have also been outspoken on the relationship between conflict and hunger since joining the UN Security Council in January 2021. Ireland is now in its second year on the UN Security Council, presenting an opportunity to make progress on this important agenda in the months remaining. There is also scope to lead and contribute to initiatives and structures now that will outlast Ireland’s tenure on the Council and advance sustainable and incremental progress on conflict and hunger in 2022 and beyond. In the same year, Ireland will also mark the 175th commemoration of 1847, the darkest year of the Great Famine.
Together, these represent a pressing need, and timely opportunity, for Irish humanitarian actors and researchers to shape and inform Irish policy in relation to conflict-driven hunger and starvation crimes.
Who should read the briefing and why?
Anyone who is interested in conflict-driven hunger and the steps that need to be taken now to avert further food catastrophe. The recommendations are directed at Irish policymakers, and span international and domestic fora from the UN Security Council, to other UN bodies, international development policy, EU and domestic policy bodies, as well as research and learning initiatives. The briefing also serves as an important tool for civil society, humanitarian responders, legal experts and researchers working on this issue to familiarise themselves with key instruments for policy action, and key opportunities for progress on this critical agenda.
What one thing would you like to see come out of the briefing or what recommendations stands out to you as a priority?
The briefing built on two training events hosted by DSAI and drew on inputs from a wide range of humanitarian actors, researchers and legal experts. Across all the recommendations we make, one of the most important points to emerge was the importance of appointing a single, designated focal point, such as a Special Rapporteur or similar, to lead and coordinate reporting on conflict, hunger and starvation at the UN. This is something Ireland can continue to advocate for during its time remaining on the Council, and which would leave an institutional legacy after it leaves the Council as well. We’ve seen the catalytic impact a designated focal point can have on other UN agendas and need the same investment in conflict and hunger to help ensure ongoing clear, effective leadership on this agenda, and ensuring meaningful and safe coordination on data-gathering and reporting across diverse stakeholders.