Armed Conflict, Starvation and International Humanitarian Law
Please join the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission for a hearing on armed conflict, its role as a driver of hunger, famine and starvation, and international humanitarian law.
According to the World Food Program, almost 60 percent of the world’s 811 million hungry people live in areas affected by armed violence. Conflict is a main driver in 8 out of 10 of the worst hunger crises in the world, among them Yemen, South Sudan, and Ethiopia. UN Security Council Resolution 2417, adopted in May 2018, drew attention to the link between armed conflict, food insecurity and famine, and reiterated the International Humanitarian Law (IHL) prohibition on the use of hunger as a weapon of war as well as the prohibition of attacks on objects indispensable to survival (OIS). The intentional starvation of civilians as a method of warfare is categorized as a war crime in the Rome Statute – which is binding on states that have ratified it – for both international armed conflict and, since approval of a 2019 amendment to the statute, non-international armed conflicts. The Russian Federation’s war of aggression against Ukraine is the latest example of the potential use of starvation as a method of warfare, where siege tactics, the willful impediment of humanitarian access, and attacks on OIS are prevalent, alongside the critical impact on global food production and food systems. The escalating need for assistance threatens to outstrip the capacity and resources of humanitarian organizations, reinforcing the importance of prevention strategies.
Witnesses will provide an overview of the role of conflict in hunger crises, describe the applicable IHL framework, including growing efforts to document and foster accountability for the war crime of starvation and associated violations, and offer recommendations for Congress.
This hearing will be virtual. Pursuant to H. Res. 965, Members of Congress and witnesses will participate remotely via Cisco WebEx. Members of the public and the media may view the hearing by live webcast on the Commission website. The hearing will also be available for viewing on Channel 52 of the House Digital Channel service. For any questions, please contact Kimberly Stanton (for Co-Chair McGovern) Piero Tozzi (for Co-Chair Smith).
Member of Congress
Member of Congress
Rep. James P. McGovern, Co-Chair, TLHRC
Rep. Christopher H. Smith, Co-Chair, TLHRC
Submitted for the Record
Tom Dannenbaum, Famine in Tigray, Humanitarian Access, and the War Crime of Starvation, Just Security, July 26, 2021