‘Make hunger by military force is a war crime’

The deliberate starving of civilians to a war crime to be labelled and, as such, be prosecuted. That says an independent UN-mensenrechtenexpert. The International criminal Court (ICC) would such things need to investigate.

Sufated, a 10-month-old Rohingya boy, cries when he’s weighed on the Action Against Hunger centre in the Kutupalong refugee camp. © REUTERS

In a new report examines Hilal Elver, special rapporteur on the Right to Food, the right to food in war. That gave a grim picture of the worst humanitarian crisis since the founding of the United Nations.

‘Otherwise, as is generally assumed, the number of direct victims of the battles are usually relatively small in a war zone. Most people come to by hunger and disease, ” says Elver. Since there are many conflicts going on in the world, is the lack of food increased.

Universal right

According to the UN Food and Agriculture organisation (FAO), the number of malnourished people in conflict-nearly three times higher than in other developing countries. In five countries where war, suffering approximately twenty million people are hungry. Another estimated seventy million people in forty-five countries currently have food aid is required, an increase of forty percent compared to 2015.


“If the international community, this kind of hunger does not describe as a crime against humanity, it is in a sense’

Since the right to food is universal, countries and other stakeholders to prevent food as a weapon of war is used, said Elver. “If there is hunger arises as a result of deliberate action by certain parties using food as a weapon of war is used, there is an international crime and individual responsibility.’

The international community must, according to her, make it clear that there than there is of a war crime or crime against humanity. “If they do not, it is in a certain sense.”


In Yemen took to the malnutrition increases dramatically since the beginning of the civil war in 2015. Thus was created the worst humanitarian crisis in the world. An estimated sixty percent of the population has to deal with acute food shortages, a situation that likely will worsen without additional emergency food aid.

According to the world food programme, more than three million children, pregnant women and lactating mothers, are acutely malnourished, making them susceptible to communicable diseases such as cholera.

The warring parties have played a significant role in the decreased availability of food. Thus, Saudi Arabia is an air and naval blockade in the land that was formerly ninety per cent of its food imported.

Air strikes by the coalition also created damage in the agricultural sector, such as farms. This was even less food available. Siege of cities by Houthi fighters is hindering the distribution of food.

International Criminal Court

Ta’izz), the second largest city in the country, was a year long siege by Houthi fighters, the blocks commissioned on the toeleveringswegen and thus serious food shortages caused.

Elver says that Yemen is a “clear situation” is where hunger is a crime against humanity can be called, and that both the Saudi Arabia-led coalition if the Houthi’s are responsible.

Yet there everywhere still impunity when it comes to situations in which intentional starvation is caused, she says, referring to the International criminal Court (ICC), which, until now, no one persecuted for the cause of such a crisis.

Genocidaal weapon

Elver argues for the development of international legal standards to determine when starvation is a war crime or crime against humanity, and wants the most serious cases by the ICC be investigated to determine whether they are in pursuit may lead.

The formal recognition of famine as a crime, it can occur that governments tend “to hide behind natural disasters and sovereignty to hunger to use as genocidaal weapon’, it says in the report. ‘You hunger to see to come,” says Elver. ‘That is created not in one day.”

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