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tv   Hearing on Armed Conflicts Food Insecurity  CSPAN  April 12, 2022 11:47pm-1:24am EDT

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>> humanitarian aid and international law experts. this is just over an hour and a half. >> i have been in antihunger advocate for a long time. most of the time, hunger is a political condition. it is due to choices that human beings, leaders of various countries make. one of those choices is about how to conduct war.
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last december, the united nations reported that 811 million people were facing hunger. almost 6% lived in areas with armed violence. in january, organizations released the february to may 2022 outlook on global hunger hotspots. they reported that food insecurity would likely get worse in 20 countries. the most acute situation includes ethiopia, nigeria, south sudan, and yemen. all of which are expensive armed -- experiencing armed conflict. it is a main driver in eight out of 10 of the worst hunger crisis in the world today. this was the case before russia launched the war against ukraine. a main supplier of wheat to africa in the middle east. i would emphasize we are not
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talking about collateral damage. we are talking about intentional decisions to wage war in ways that directly or indirectly undermine people's access to food and put them at risk for starvation. this happened in syria when civilians were trapped in besieged cities, it is happening in ethiopia as people are subject to humanitarian relief. it happened in burma where the distortion of farmland were used against the rohingya. the link is well-known. four years ago the un security council adopted resolution 2417 that explicitly recognized the link between armed conflict, food insecurity, and famine and recalled that international humanitarian law, the use of international humanitarian law prohibits the use of hunger as a weapon. to intentionally cause
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starvation of civilians is a war crime. a violation of the geneva conventions and the rome statute. when people hear the words were crime, starving civilians is not the first thing that comes to mind. killing civilians in cold blood, the kind of images we see come out of ukraine as we speak. that is why i wanted to hold his hearing today. we need to shift our thinking about hunger and starvation when these are linked to armed conflict. we should not assume that hunger is somehow a natural consequence of war. we should be asking whether it is the result of intentional decisions that make it a war crime. and if investigation shows war crimes we should be insisting on accountability for those responsible. there are efforts underway is to develop ways to do that. the issue has even found its way into a court case. a month ago, virginia ruled that
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a civil claim for damages could proceed against libyan warlord general khalifa who is accused of war crimes including starvation sieges. providing humanitarian assistance is a way to support the victims of war crimes. the u.s. has been a strong leader on this front. even as humanitarian agencies respond to existing hunger crisis, we need to pay attention to prevention as well. that means strategies to build resilience like we will hear about from fao in a few minutes. what i am calling for is an approach in which humanitarian assistance and the building of resilience go hand in hand with accountability.
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i urge members who share this concern to cosponsor a bipartisan resolution led by sarah jacobs who is a member of the human rights commission. it condemns the use of hunger as a weapon of war and calls for sanctions against those responsible. i think this would be a first step towards accountability. i want to say thank you to all of our witnesses and before i turn to our first witness i want to yield to the cochair of the commission, congressman chris smith of new jersey. >> thank you for your remarks and convening today's hearing. i have a great concern about human hunger. thank you, this is an area where we are joined together in trying to make a difference. using food as a weapon, we remember how infamously it was used in ethiopia, starving so
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many people in the 1980's. there is a long line and a list of countries in dictatorships and authoritarian regimes that have used food as a weapon and they need to be held to account. we all know vladimir putin is waging a terrible, horrific war on civilians and the people of ukraine. as you point out, it is not just the palms or the tanks, increasingly, the inability to get through to people, particularly in besieged cities becomes very apparent, food then becomes the critical issue that causes people to be either incredibly sick and weekend and then even die. i met with a couple of survivors in my district to one of them left early from ukraine to get the cooperation. -- an apparition.
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-- an operation. he told me how the people in his synagogue, food, you can not go out and get it. the supply lines are under attack. food is being used by vladimir putin to kill the people of ukraine in addition to his other weapons. we all know that there are consequences, russian and ukraine has more than a quarter of the world's wheat. those are disrupting supply chains. food shortages, price hikes, and political discontent throughout areas in north africa and it is likely to spread throughout sub-saharan africa. it has already been impacted by covid-19 and african desert locations. policy has exasperated unexpected and irregular famines such as the 1845 and 1852 irish
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potato famine caused by an infection. other famines are engineered. punishing their own people who they have deemed to be enemies of the state or ideological enemies. to contextualize this hearing, it is important to have historical perspectives in understanding the role of ideology. starvation as a weapon of mass destruction is not unknown to ukraine itself. we all know that from 32-33 the ukraine suffered a horrific famine directly that are by joseph stalin. it left millions of people dead, in the spring of 1933. stalin and the soviets seized ownership of individual land to create collective farms,
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relatively rich peasants who are designated as a class enemy. those who resisted had their homes ransacked of food and their families blacklisted from receiving subsidence. it rejected international aid. this was famine enabled genocide. ussr secured 4.2 million tons of grain from ukraine in 1932 which is some more than enough to feed 10 million people. yet ukrainians starve to death. the kremlin's methods replicates other man-made famines like the chinese famine. where at least 30 million starve to death. in the face of drought, the chinese government party launched a five-year plan called the great leap forward which abolished private farming and transferred all production allocation of food to the hands of the state.
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during the failure of the ussr, wishing for the manufacture of the industrial revolution from scratch, now forced farmers to work on communes and creating unrealistic grain famines causing people to steal. the death by starvation in the greatest nonwork time famine in history, a so-called the weak links were executed as well. chairman mao only acknowledged but mocked the crisis -- mao not only acknowledged but mocked the crisis. they say it is better to let half of the people die, so that the other half can eat well. that is absolutely horrific. letting class enemies starve to death is a ideological weapon of dictatorship regimes. it is a long-standing system of state-sponsored discrimination.
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a term that encompasses the political, social, economic background of one's right ancestors and the behavior of relatives is used to determine if an individual is to be trusted with responsibilities or to receive an adequate aid. in ethiopia, food has been has n of war from 1980 through their 1985, a star for people in tigre went to an estimate one million famine deaths. this was orchestrated to destroy civilian lives, food production
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capabilities, congress and forced resettlement, it continued, official stated that to kill the fish, you drain the water to justify the policy of mass starvation. today we see it repeating itself, sadly, the ethiopian government are using starvation as a weapon of war with 700,000 people living in acute food and security conditions and 2.2 million people who are internally displaced. in this conflict, both government forces and those affiliated with tigre, accused of research and relief to those most in need. today's hearing is necessary and the organization of hunger is inflicting death by starvation is heinous beyond imagination. thank you and i yield back. >> i want to thank you for your statement. i appreciate it. we have two panels.
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our first panel is jocelyn brown hall, the director of the food and agriculture organization for the united nations, fao, liaison officer based in washington, d.c. she served as the deputy regional representative for the fao regional office for africa where she oversaw 47 fao country offices and guided strategy and communications around food, security, agriculture, climate change, trade, food health, among other topics. she has also served as the representative for ghana. we get ready for her testimony. we are delighted that you are here and the floors yours. >> thank you to the members of the commission and for this opportunity to speak to you on this timely matter which is unfortunately an ever present
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issue on concept driven hunger. i think it might be important to state i have worked at the u.s. department of agriculture before joining fao in 2019. for those of you not familiar with the food and agriculture organization, we are the world's leading technical agency for food and agriculture. we are to create sustainable food systems. we were founded before the end of world war ii. we needed to understand better and have a better under section of productions, demand, and food prices so that we can avoid conflicts that world war ii had brought upon the world. we have 195 members and stationed in over 130 countries. we have people in the ground, on the ground in afghanistan,
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ethiopia, eritrea, ukraine. we would like to think of ourselves as the international department of agriculture for the world because our work varies from research, policies, field training programs, to crisis prevention and emergency agricultural assistance. evie -- as you have aptly put, armed conflict is a major driver of hunger crisis in our world today. sadly it is not the only one. in the covid-19 pandemic is related to supply chain issues and economic fallout with worsening climate change, extreme weather. it exacerbated the state of world hunger. the three c's is now added with the fourth one. climate, conflict, economic downturn due to covid, and the fourth is now climbing food prices or cost. in ukraine alone, fao had a staff of 81 before the war broke
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out and we have added 30 more u.s. staff members. 18 million food insecure citizens now. before the war, one out of every four ukrainians in southeast ukraine were facing food security and that is more than doubled. what is even more jarring is that there is no end in sight. this may only be the beginning. communities are destroyed, supply lines are cut and we have learned this morning that major wheat fields where ukraine is the major wheat producer for the world, the fields are full of ordinances. this conflict stretches past ukraine, plunging yemen and syria into further food crises and they have been reliant on ukraine and russia's agricultural output. as fao reported, yemen's already dire crisis is teetering on the edge of outright catastrophe. with 17.4 million people now in need of food assistance, that is
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the size of the state of the population of new york. fao cannot solve this problem ourselves, even during times of conflict and war. we need to work towards a resilient system and domestic cultural production system during conflicts so that we can save lives as they are happening. while this may seem like a tall order and a silver bullet, it is not. disaster resilience building is more cost efficient and has a track record of success. it costs $160 to feed a family in afghanistan with wheat seeds and field tools. to feed that same family for six
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months it costs around $12,000 on the local market. we are giving the locals the tools to supply their own food is more efficient than to directly feed them. we are taking important steps in the management and prevention of hunger crises. however to implement this we need to properly allocate resources. we recommend first and foremost that the u.s. government treat agricultural assistance as a solution to the hunger crisis. as humanitarian assistance, not an afterthought. it needs to be at the center of humanitarian assistance, not on the margins. we understand that while we ask for food assistance, we have to get food to people, it is not sufficient. we talk about the people of ukraine, they need vegetable seeds, tater seeds, they can be fed today but what about three months from now or four months from now if the crisis continues on? we also need your voices to promote the continuation of international trade.
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enacting important export researches will raise prices and affect the most wonderful people in the world and stagger food supplies. it is essential that congress persons like yourself help preserve social safety net programs and pair them with agricultural programs for the most needy amongst us. we ask that congress proactively fund the mechanisms that prevent future hunger and starvation. we need to invest in humanitarian aid and have ever hoped for at the center of it -- and agriculture at the center of it because it affects so many people. over 70% of the people in crisis are in the rural economy and have agriculture as their main source of income. if you do not address agriculture, if you do not give people the seeds and the tools that they need, they would not have anything to sustain themselves. our humanitarian response plan
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in ukraine has a shortfall and we would like you to recognize that agriculture is a key part of humanitarian aid. i look forward to answering any questions that you may have. >> thank you very much and i appreciate it. let me say, some of these things you have touched upon, i want to make sure that everybody is clear on it. for the record, can you identify for us the conflict related to hunger crises that are the greatest concern to fao right now? the situation in ukraine, but if you could elaborate on that a little bit? >> i would be happy to do so. we have africa including ethiopia, somalia, south sudan, yemen, syria, we have ukraine, obviously.
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we do not want to forget the corridor and the people of haiti. those are our top list. we also have a major food insecurity on the border of burma and bangladesh. >> could you expand more on what exactly you mean by agricultural assistance and how it differs from direct food assistance? >> i would be happy to answer. direct food assistance is procuring food nearby or shipping united states food through the food for peace. we have been shipping food for over half a century. that is the direct handouts, that is what you see coming off at the backs of planes or trucks. agricultural humanitarian assistance is providing people with seeds and fertilizer, or sheep or cattle, veterinarian drugs if there is a disease that can be handled quickly. some technical assistance, it is
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a package deal that we offer to families. we offer it to the most vulnerable families. we have a targeting scheme that we use so that those people can actually get food in the ground and harvest it and feed themselves. that is agricultural assistance in the humanitarian sphere. >> for those of us who are not in the agricultural sector or do not have your background, would you be referring to providing equipment or seeds? is there an example of this type of aid successfully mitigating a crisis? >> it has to do with wheat seeds, vegetable seeds, potato seeds, at this point we are actually feeding ukrainian farmers. we pivoted our programs away from commercial programs because right now markets are pretty dormant or unfortunately have
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stalled in ukraine. we have pivoted that to lifesaving food preservation programs. we are using seeds to help the ukrainian people feed themselves. or if they can, ship those food, vegetables, potatoes to other cities where people do not grow food. i mentioned afghanistan earlier. throughout august of 2021, we have been providing wheat seed kits to afghan rural people. those kits have seeds, minor tools, fertilizer and helping them grow the wheat themselves over the course of this time. that package deal costs around $160. compared to $1200 to feed them
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over a six month time period, you can see the direct benefit to those people who can actually grow it themselves. sell a little bit on the market versus receiving a handout. >> are you able to provide a measure of how long-lasting this type of assistance is, insulating from conflict related shocks? >> a direct measure would be i think the cost is one. it is obviously a lot less expensive and we can reach more people because we are addressing families themselves. i will get you more specific measures from our office to that end. i will say that in the humanitarian response arena, only 8% of all donor funding goes to the agricultural funding. the agricultural space of producing seeds and input for
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vulnerable people. it protects people from literally dying of hunger during that time. >> which countries and regions is the approach you are talking about most advanced? >> unfortunately, we have to go where the most people are vulnerable. we use agricultural humanitarian packages throughout the crisis you have mentioned so far, somalia, south sudan, ethiopia, yemen, afghanistan, we have a major program in afghanistan where 95% of the population is facing some sort of food insecurity and almost half of the population is in acute food insecurity. we are working as fast as we can to get the basics to people so that they literally do not starve to death. or suffer from chronic malnutrition. >> you talked about the cost-effective nature of
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agricultural assistance. what are the current monetary needs that you think are required? >> fao is part of the united nation's overall system. we do not work in a vacuum. each country has what we call a humanitarian response plan. i will say, for example in afghanistan, the humanitarian response plan for united nations is well-funded but fao has received all of half a million dollars from the united states for agricultural humanitarian assistance in afghanistan. we have received funding from other donors, but that gives you the sense that agriculture is often an afterthought. the overall number i would have to get back to you on, the overall number of the assistance. but again, each country has its own plan and within that plan, we are often the most underfunded.
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>> for the record, if nothing is done, you could elaborate on what are the potential risks to livelihoods, here? >> in countries where 70% to 80% of the country is agrarian and where 70% of the people are employed in agricultural sector in some way, if people do not have anything to do or to work for, there is -- our representative in afghanistan has said he brings some seeds to some farmers and he sees some glimmer of hope in their eyes. they have nothing else. in countries where women are not allowed outside of the home, for example, i use afghanistan again, agricultural livelihood is the only path for them to have any sort of economic empowerment.
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it is acceptable in their culture for them to work in kitchen gardens or in goats and sheep and set up their compounds. they do not go outside and harvest the way that women are often seen doing in africa and throughout latin america. having them have some way of growing something, selling some dairy, selling some vegetables, having their male members of the family cell -- sell that on the side market, that is the only path to empowerment for these women. in some of these countries where they are not allowed outside or outside of their compound. >> i appreciate your testimony and getting us to think beyond the same old same old which is respond with direct food only. that is a frustration of mine. i do a lot of work globally, but also domestically. we are trying to get the white
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house to do a program for hunger to ask for the challenges we have here in the united states. one of my critics about battling hunger and food insecurity is that the answer falls under multiple jurisdictions and multiple different approaches. it is not just one program, not just one response. the various sectors and agencies do not always get in an room together and say here is the problem. what we have on the table, and actually solve this problem. in the international arena, i have seen how things have evolved in many respects. not quickly enough in the area of direct agricultural assistance to mitigate these disasters. i mean, there was a time when the u.s. felt every time it was
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an emergency, response should be we take food from the united states and we send it to wherever. we realized that it is not always cost-effective. sometimes it is better to buy food in the region or even in a particular country, but we have to be careful of that because we do not want to destroy the markets in a way where food becomes high for certain people. i think we are moving towards a whatever works approach. this is an issue of sustainability and mitigation. i always feel it is a missing piece. i am struck by how little in the scheme of things the united states provides you for some of the work that you are talking about. i really do think we need to be
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thinking more holistically about out-of-the-box than the things we always do. we certainly appreciate the work of the fao. i know my colleague, congressman smith, has an emergency in his district, and congresswoman jacobs is here from california. i do not know if you have any questions for ms. hall or if i shall yield to you, right now? >> thank you so much mr. chair and thank you to you and mr. smith for convening this important hearing. everything we have heard today really shows how incredibly important this topic is and we are seeing it in real time in ukraine right now. that russia's aggression in ukraine threatens food security everywhere given the impact on ukraine's exports.
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food that is needed in other complex areas around the world, and we are also unfortunately seeing russia deliberately target agricultural infrastructure in ukraine and using hunger as a weapon of war. that is why i introduced a resolution recognizing hunger as a weapon. and recognizing the impact the conflict has on global food insecurity. i know you have been an incredible leader for so many years, mr. chairman. i was hoping that you could briefly speak to this dynamic we are seeing in ukraine and how the u.s. and international community is responding. >> there is a major humanitarian response going on right now and something i learned is in each country which faces some sort of disaster or has been developing, there is something called a food security cluster. this is where different u.n. bodies involved in food security such as fao, the world food
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program, as well as nongovernment organizations come together and try to map out what they are doing and coordinate because there can be issues, tripping over yourself. before the invasion of russia into ukraine, there were about 40 entities involved in ukraine's food security cluster. now there is over 80. just trying to coordinate who is doing what. i also learned this morning that fao is the only agency dealing with livelihoods. providing humanitarian aid that allows people to actually earn a living or see themselves as earning a living. i think your question is what the united states is doing in this area.
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right now, in the united states, it has been a stalwart supporter of the humanitarian response in ukraine. much of the funding is going towards direct food assistance and we are more involved in the livelihoods and empowerment. we are looking to put seeds in the ground now for three months or looking to make sure that the farmers who have put these seeds in the ground can actually get them out and harvest them in may or june. as you have stated, ukraine is a major producer. the united states is a major player within the whole of the u.n. community and we welcome the support in the livelihoods area as well which has been underfunded. >> i think that is an important component. thank you for all of your work on that. switching gears to move more
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broadly, i was wondering, if you could talk about ways that hunger can actually lead to conflict. especially how hunger, food insecurity increases fuel and commodity costs contributes to the conflict and what kinds of long-term development intervention we can do to address these and help prevent conflict based on hunger? >> as the chairman noted in his opening statement, we have enough food in this world to feed everybody. the united states alone could feed everyone in the world. it is a question of distributing it to the people who need it. we have rising numbers of people who are food insecure and the opening of the chairman mention ed upwards of over 810 million people who are food insecure that is an upswing. this should not be the case. we have some of the most cutting edge technology in the world in
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the united states. there is no reason for this number of people. it is used sometimes, communities who are facing ongoing hunger, there could be land disputes, there could be disputes over land with nomadic peoples who are trying to use land for livestock and things like that. there could be land grabs for a power grab within the government. there is a lot of different reasons for this happening. the sad part of it is even with the technologies that we have today, and even with some of the world not having as high yields in agriculture as they could, there are unfortunately several countries, many countries who are underperforming in agriculture, even with that, we have enough food to feed everyone.
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rep. jacobs: thank you. one last question i wanted to follow up on. i understand that the chairman was not able to get to it, but you have talked about the more livelihood focused our cultural aid. what are the risks of that kind of aid you were describing earlier? are the risks different from those for more traditional aid? >> i would say that they are fairly low risk. we are trying to give people in their communities not a handout, but a hand up in the sense we are trying to enhance what they already know how to do. of course there are some risks in actually getting the seeds or the fertilizer to communities, there may be some risks when we don't have enough for all of the communities that we need. i would say it is actually a pretty low risk area. of course, not every person who is involved in farming is a great farmer. that is true for any sector.
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that person who is usually a man, may not be able to handle everything. but for the most part, it is a low risk, high efficiency product. a suite of products that also enhances what people already know how to do. these are rural people, these are what their livelihoods are all about. we try to do things like give them techniques to make sure that they are rotating crops to preserve soil or introduce drip irrigation so country where a water -- where water is scarce, is the least amount of water possible. in many ways i think it is reducing even more risk to our climate and trying to use these moments, these teachable moments to enhance our understanding of
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their soil, wind patterns, fertilizer. there was a discussion this morning in fao that the fertilizer, the lack of fertilizer is upon us due to the war. the invasion of ukraine by russia is going to impact all of us. it even shows more of how we need to have soil mapping and we need to know what is in the soil that we are using. i would say to answer your question it is a pretty low risk, high efficiency, intervention. rep. jacobs: that was all of my questions. i will yield back to you. >> thank you for your testimony and answering the questions. thank you for the innovative work that is being done at fao. this issue of hunger, especially
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in times of crisis, i always get the feeling that there is not the sense of global urgency that is needed at this moment. there has got to be a sense of global urgency even when half of the world is not in crisis. these are solvable issues. i have visited, when i was in ethiopia a few years ago, the productive safety net program i think i may be messing up what they were called. but i saw the drip irrigation experiments going on and some really out of the box thinking. in that case it was preparing people for droughts or crazy weather patterns that we are all experiencing right now. and they have helped.
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there is a lot of out of the box thinking out there about ways to help people be able to get through crises whether it is natural or whether they are man-made. we need to be moving more in that direction and have more thoughtful discussion in our congress about this and where our funding goes. this is my own personal opinion, so i do not attribute it to anybody else here. it frustrates me that when it comes to the military budget there is never enough. but when it comes to making sure the people have enough to eat, we are told that we do enough. we cannot do much more. yet we look at some of the causes of instability around the world, certainly the causes of human suffering, you can do it -- you can connect it directly to hunger and extreme poverty.
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you have given us a reminder that we need to do better. i thank you so much for being here and thank you and your team for all the work for all the work you are doing. >> thank you for having me. rep. mcgovern: we go to our second panel. tom denhambomb is an assistant professor at the school of law and diplomacy at tufts university. prior to 2017 he was a lecturer in human rights at the university of college and london, a visiting lecturer in law and a visiting lecturer at harvard law school. the professor writes on international law, particularly on the laws of war, shared responsibility and judging. he has written on peace negotiations, reparations, and punishing atrocity crimes perpetrated via the state.
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his many publications include the article "see starvation, a war crime of societal torture" which was awarded the legal theory prize by asil. we know he is a ba from stanford. katrina is an international human rights lawyer with expertise in the starvation associated violations and a right to food abuses. she is a barrister with one crown office chambers and the -- in the united kingdom and a partner with global rights compliance and pursuing justice through innovative applications of international law. miss murdoch leads the starvation portfolio and is deeply knowledgeable about the cycle of conflicts across tigre. this is criminal law advising on
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crimes, out of the rwanda genocide, iraq war, the current conflicts in yemen and the war in the former yugoslavia . but may begin with the professor. we welcome you and the floor is yours. >> thank you very much. civilian starvation and of the deprivation of items needed for civilian survival are among the most devastating on conflict. the effect is torturous, individually and socially destructive and potentially trans generational in their implications. tens of millions of civilians in conflicts across yemen, and ethiopia, south sudan, and ukraine. this is not simply the result of intractable scarcity on disaster. it is about choices on how to
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conduct war. this panel has been asked whether and how international humanitarian law may have a role to play in responding to this reality. the answer to that question is that existing law does indeed provide crucial resources prohibiting and criminalizing starvation as a method of warfare and protecting obvious -- objects indispensable to civilian survival and regulating humanitarian access. what is needed is the political will necessary to employ those tools. in what follows i will explain what makes objects indispensable to civilian survival legally distinctive in the regime governing the conduct of hostilities. second, i emphasize what that means, what implications it has, and deprivation. also our programs and mechanisms to implementation. first, on the special place of objects indispensable to
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civilian survival, ordinarily, an object with both military and civilian uses, a dual use object, is considered an objective. it can be targeted as long as feasible measures are taken to minimize civilian loss. and the civilian impact expected is not direct was the military advantages anticipated. those are extremely important, but situationally contingent. the details of which are often contested. it is in recognition of this state of civilian population that objects indispensable to civilian survival like food and water get clear and tighter protections under the geneva conventions and international law.
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specifically, even if such objects are used, not just by civilians by also combatants, those provisions still apply. objects into the -- indispensable to survival cannot be based on their sustenance value. in other words, unlike targetable dual use objects, dual use substance -- sustenance is legally protected. second, objects indispensable to the survival cannot be targeted other than sustenance if such targeting would leave the civilian population starving or forced to move. both of these unique rules apply whether or not civilians are the primary target, regardless of motive and independent assessments of military advantage. they are bright lines designed to protect civilians from starvation in war.
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attacking and destroying indispensable objects are two modalities of starvation. others include removing such objects from the civilian population, rendering some objects useless, or cutting civilians off from the external suppliers of such objects. removing and rendering uses are explicitly covered by the same framework as attacking and destroying under additional protocol one. about that there is no ambiguity. in my view, the most coherent reading of the law is that the framework on indispensable objects specifies what it means to engage in starvation of civilians as a method of warfare which is prohibited regardless of the modality and also of supplies and deprivation. in the context of siege
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isolation, the next question is whether the purpose is to deny assistance even to combatants in -- deny sustenance even to combatants in which that and will also impact civilians. if yes, the operation is prohibited. alternatively, when consignments of indispensable objects are blocked for military reasons other than blocking values, the conditions of such that the civilian population will be left starving or forced to move. if yes, the operation is again, prohibited. the reason that these elevated restrictions, if the profound and indeed torturous suffering associated with starvation, of those effects occur over time and can be complicated to trace. it is for that reason and is critical to emphasize the legal protections focused in the first
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instance on the practices of policies for indispensable objects, let me conclude by spotlighting three ways to leverage this legal framework. first, a key aspect is attention. with security council resolution 2417 there is a framework for keeping this at the top of the security council's agenda. that requires stakes including the united states to retain the focus in that forum. second, it is important that all states including the united states codify the domestic war crimes code. and provide the jurisdictional basis for applying those codes to any alleged offender who is found on their territory. third, war crimes investigators in various jurisdictions need to be supported in their work on this issue. the legal framework is there. but they need evidence, resources, and access to make it work.
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all states should assist them in that endeavor. thank you very much for your time. >> thank you very much. miss murdoch. >> thank you. i would like to follow along from my representative by addressing four further points. the first is to continue to frame the issue of starvation, highlighting the importance of the resolution but also the statute amendments to the international criminal court's. second, how the crime can manifest in practice. third, how the organization can monitor starvation violations and how it works in furthering accountability and i will do that by giving three examples of current conflicts we are working in. and four, to end with some options for action. taking the first and framing the
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issue, as it has already been discussed over the past four years, we have witnessed the return of starvation as a method of warfare. the conflict in ukraine, syria, south sudan, myanmar, yemen, and others to name a few revealed that devaluing of human life and the erosion of international laws designed to protect civilians in conflict. in relation to the security council resolution 24 17 that has been discussed, it is condemning the deliberate use of starvation and recognizes the violation of the war crimes for which perpetrators may be held accountable. what was also important about this landmark resolution was that the investigations are called for. reporting lines are created and new momentum arose around the issue.
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carried by that momentum in december of 2019, there was a proposal, to add statutes, amended to include starvation as a war crime in an non-international armed conflict. given that apart from ukraine, all of the current conflicts were starvation features are not classified as an armed conflict. this amendment cannot be understated. we continue to work with the amendment process to increase ratification. i would strongly concur with the professor that codifying this prohibition will strengthen the legal framework. turning to the second point, what this crime can look like in conflict. there are so many different sides of a conflict. we have seen and heard about seige warfare. we also want to highlight the
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humanitarian violations. according to international humanitarian law, the unimpeded passage of humanitarian relief is guaranteed. but there is a tendency to view such disruption of humanitarian aid as less. while the grain resources might hit the headlines, the lack of supplies will usually not. often you will find there are parties who restrict that or restrict in a way will have a nexus with other violations and the lack of respect for international humanitarian law will often be telling in relation to perpetrator's intent. in the investigations we are working on at the moment, this
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is amongst other violations, the type of work that we monitor in current conflicts. there is a variety of ways in which the crime can be monitored and investigated depending on the state of the conflict. to give three current examples, yemen. this was the genesis of our work on starvation. it produced a unique report which people are finding. this analysis enabled us to test the laws, take witness statements and really identify the bright lines in practice and disentangle what is permissible. and then tigre which has been discussed in the opening address. we are 18 months into this conflict and over 400,000 people in the region are starving according to the world food program's latest assessment. we commend the leading role
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the united states has taken in relation to tigre, condemning the mass atrocities and conducting sanctions. in tigre, we are working with investigations, given our inability to get into the country. here we are looking at specific influences relating to the destruction of food stuff, food storage facilities, and the obstruction of humanitarian access and the attack on aid workers. finally, turning to ukraine where we have worked since 2014. as many of you will know, today, the situation in ukraine in relation to conflict of starvation violations is acute. the situation in mariupol is dire. it has been besieged since the first day of the war. there is grave lack of access to
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medical supplies, and targeting of objects indispensable. local residents are deprived of water and are drinking snow. electricity and heat have been blocked. the humanitarian aid convoys have been blocked from accessing the city, mooted on the way in, and routes selected for the convoys are being mined alongside military and blocks for leaving. it would meet the requisite intent to starve if not prove it. the overwhelming substantial evidence across all three conflicts, it is a clear practice of deliberate starvation. the evidence based on starvation crimes is accumulating daily alongside other war crimes in ukraine and elsewhere. finally, the options for action, the ultimate aim of our work is to render starvation morally toxic and there is much that can
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be done individually to achieve this goal. similar to the three steps that have already been identified, i would raise three to echo. call it out, investigate it and prosecute it. there is an urgent need to increase the literacy around the notion around starvation violations across a range of sectors, from the police, immigration department, forensic and investigative journalists. and within humanitarian agencies. capacity building will be key to achieve this. it is critical to identify this violation and call it out loudly when we see it or suspect it. investigations that have been discussed, of course essential. in ukraine, the state department office of global criminal justice has already earmarked funding for mobile teams of international experts who will
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be working shoulder to shoulder with investigators looking to secure crime scene evidence. there is still a process of perjury before that funding is released including congressional approval. we would respectfully encourage that to be expedited. the longer that this continues without international war crimes specialists on the ground, the more evidence opportunity will be lost. finally, accountability. given the prevalence of current conflicts this needs to become a priority in crimes and investigation. an international criminal prosecution for the crime up starvation is long overdue. we must look for tools legal or advocacy based, including domestic prosecution, universal jurisdiction claims, claims before the relevant u.n.
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treaty parties. as we saw by the revolutions of past sanctions as well. it is time for weaponized starvation to end. the evidence is in our faces, the law is in our hands. what is electing has already been discussed today, is the public clamor and political positions. starvation crimes should have their rightful place at the head of the crimes against humanity. they should be prohibited without question. thank you, very much. >> thank you both for your excellent testimony. i am going to yield to ms. jacobs. and i'm going to ask my after that. rep. jacobs: thank you to both of our witnesses. two -- to either of you, can you speak to why the prosecution for intentional starvation has been so rare?
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is it intent to top government officials to keep such prosecutions? what has been the biggest barrier? >> you go first. i will follow-up. >> thank you. thank you for the question. i think there's a variety of reasons why it has not been passed for prosecution today. to some extent, the factors did not arrive in previous conflicts we saw. for example, the rise in genocide for other conflicts, you want to move that from nature. the other procedural reason is criminal tribunals, despite particular in cambodia in starvation related to death.
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it did not pass the statute of those calls so it was not part and parcel something that could be prosecuted. i think you touched upon a really important point, the intent of one. it concerns investigators and prosecutors. there has been a multi-global nature for the effective starvation which has given it a wrong reputation of being overly difficult to prosecute. i think i touched upon it in the presentation. on my evidence, i think it is just too often viewed as a humanitarian law issue and not a criminal one. the focus has been on a leaf -- on relief rather than prosecution.
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those will be the core reasons. >> i can add a couple of more briefly. of the one key issues and it was mentioned earlier. the criminal court statute initially included. the predominant mode of conflict. it is globally not internationally armed conflict so that form of armed conflict was not in the jurisdiction of the criminal court on the specific issue on starvation as a war crime. now that we have a conflict in russia and ukraine and whether the icc has jurisdiction. even in non-international conflicts where there is amendment of the icc, it only extends by a state-by-state basis. it is still unlikely to be available in most of the situations that arise there.
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the second on the question of intent, it is partly about confusion of what it means to be shown with respect to establishing the crime. that is why in my remarks about emphasizing the resilience of survival and that is done with a view to recognize that starvation will occur, but you do not have to prove the specific outcome of the deprivation of the object. that is not an element of the crime. a reticent to engage in this line of strategy is a concern. how do you prove that this particular act caused this particular outcome, whether there are multiple factors linked between action and result? it is often long and torturous, the various ways of which they are being in one another. the fact is, you do not have to establish that.
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that is enough. i do think under legal categories, the concern that causation was a major one that precluded prosecution and an investigation. rep. jacobs: thank you. that was helpful. another question, how could efforts to document the starvation and famines be improved to make the prosecution? i know you said it is not about the evidence. part of it is how can we make sure we are doing that better? >> do you want to go ahead, katrina? >> you go ahead. >> i think one of the key issues is making sure that collecting
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evidence at the right moment and accumulating evidence over time, particularly when you're looking at the deprivation of humanitarian access, any given denial of access is not necessarily going to be criminal. it is not the case that all convoys have to be allowed through. the question of accumulating, what decisions are being made, what was made at what point to respect those decisions. how does the system of this denial of access operate? that requires accumulating the evidence over time in terms of what were the interactions. what do they know at each point and how are they changing? what kinds of additional evidence would you look for? when you look at denial of humanitarian access, something that is going to be extremely helpful in establishing the intentional denial of
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humanitarian access is also losing, also destroying objects essential to survival. if those things are happening together, then the case that there is intentional deprivation is much clearer. that is what is being shown in ethiopia where there is clearly an accumulation of those different acts. the question then is when we are looking for evidence, we are doing it throughout the process and we are not putting the issues of humanitarian access on a one-sided because we are focused on civilians or other war crimes that are traditionally prosecuted. that is then ready for prosecution when cases become viable. right now in the current context, that includes making sure the investigation is going to be viable in ukraine. it also means making sure that information is available to the investigative mechanism for syria and myanmar.
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those are contexts in which these acts are occurring and the important point is not to put this on the humanitarian issue that are not relevant for prosecution, but to include them and not take development and accumulation. that means a multifaceted analysis of what is going on the ground and how it is coordinated. >> i did not have very much to add onto that. a really excellent answer. i thing all i would say is it goes back to the need to increase the literacy on it. so that those on the inquiries to the humanitarian actors to a whole range of justices are involved in this are encouraged to identify this other violation and have the means to which deposit this information safely,
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honestly and credibly. rep. jacobs: thank you. i will yield to you. rep. mcgovern: thank you. professor, the ability of the u.s. to advocate for accountability for war crimes is frankly all serious human rights. we not only talk the talk, but we walk the walk. you recommend that states codify the codes on war crimes and provided jurisdictional basis on applying those codes to any alleged offender who is found on the territory. for the united states, to be really clear, what specific statutes need to be amended? are there legislative proposals
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already available that you are aware of? >> i believe this is one of the issues on which governor green are working in response to this situation in ukraine. one of the key problem codes is u.s. codes 2441. the war crimes act of 1996. it provides a list of war crimes applicable in the united states. there are two issues. one is that the starvation war crime is not included. it does not include starvation war crimes. the second issue which is equally important, the jurisdiction provision is although the crimes can occur inside or outside of the united states, it has to be the case that either the perpetrator or victim as a member of the united states. that is more than the chamber demands which is to provide the
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legislation necessary to ensure criminal prosecution of any alleged defendant found, regardless of the nationality of the perpetrator and regardless of the territory which the crime occurred. the united states has that kind of jurisdictional basis on torture and genocide for those codes. i could give the specific numbers if that is helpful. the first would be able to make sure it will extend to war crimes. the second would be to expand scope of the war crimes in the united states, recognizes in the legislation to include the starvation war crime, recognizing that the united states has additional protocol one. it includes resolution 2417 which calls for investigation and calls for accountability. the united states recognizes
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this to be a violation. it should recognize it to be a work crime and extend the jurisdiction for this to include those responsible for this as required by international law. you are on mute. if you had just asked a second question. yes, i think it should ratify protocols 1 and 2. protocol one has 100 summary report states that are party to it. almost every key u.s. ally is a party to protocol one. all nato members except the united states, australia new zealand, republic of korea and japan are all part of this
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article one. it already more or less has to comply with this protocol in order to maintain interoperability. it would be not only appropriate in terms of the operations of the u.s. armed forces, but normatively appropriate to incorporate that into domestic u.s. law so it has the legitimacy and standing to call out abuses, including the abuses currently being inflicted in t igray, ukraine, etc. in a way that has more legitimacy. >> last july you published an article entitled "famine in tigray, humanitarian
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access and in war crime of deprivation," in which you concluded, there is good reason to believe that the deprivation in the cap to satisfy the definition of deprivation. has anything happened since then that has changed your analysis? should congress and the administration be doing more to bring our attention to this were alongside others? >> no, nothing has changed my view on that. i get the united states should be doing more to make sure that this particular situation receives the attention it deserves. i think it is important and thoughtful that the international community's responding with such profound
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unity and corporation in response to the crimes that are recurring occurring in ukraine. there is the kind of mechanism that we have for syria or myanmar. the united states could be a leader in developing such an investigative mechanism and pushing for accountability using universal jurisdiction. a case where the war crimes act amendment that i suggested would be particularly helpful. but also facilitating jurisdiction in those jurisdictions where there is already viable which is a significant number. many of those the more active on syria. u.s. assistance in that respect would be extremely helpful and important. >> miss murdock, you mentioned that the global rates compliance in your statement that the global rates compliance has been engaged in ukraine since 2014 helping to start ukraine's capacity to investigate crime. with regard to donbass and
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crimea, is there evidence that war crimes were committed there? which crimes and by whom? or is this a new war crime that appear since russia's invasion in february? >> thank you for your question. we have released earlier about two months ago now an extensive occupation report, which details a vast number of war crimes in relation to crimea and donbass. and forensically analyzed the situation above -- of occupation. we did look in that assessment and analysis on the attacks on war facilities in particular, whether that made amount to the
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crime of starvation in that area. i would say that the vast majority of crimes that we are seeing that falls within the purview of starvation or war crimes in the most recent invasion. i think it is absolutely critical that that is investigated and that all the initiatives fully considered this issue. >> let me ask you both. given the significant evidence of starvation and the structure -- destruction of resources essential for survival, why has prosecution for intentional survive -- starvation under ihl
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been so rare? >> it goes back to what we were just discussing earlier. there wasn't the codification in the international tribunal statute that was created in the 1990's. it guaranteed the statute was limited to international conflicts, not the dominant mode of conflict. it was not included as a great region, so there were less updates in domestic war crime codes initially although that is changing with the international criminal law code. so i think it is changing, but it is probably about updating the law which is happening and then changing attitude. >> because of ukraine's role as a grain producer, russia's role is already affecting agriculture
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markets and exacerbating pre-existing food insecurity. does russia bear any legal responsibilities for these and an consequences under international law? >> i think it is an important question, the knock on effects this will have in food insecure countries and those that are already teetering on the edge. we heard eloquently about the resilience and issues that will have by our first speaker. in terms of russia's statement, i think it is going to be very challenging in that they have not adopted under the international human rights law framework.
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so i think finding the link between russia and the downstream effects in terms of the criminal accountability or international human rights law would be fairly flawed in my view. >> i think it is complicated and gets to the issue of proximate cause and why you undertake a particular wrongful act irrespective of the consequences. in the context of state responsibility for the effects of aggression or violation of the use or prohibition of the use of force, the international court suggested in the case of the democratic republic of the congo, they did find uganda responsible for all of the upshot of their violation including and up to the use of force.
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so, this question of what kind of notifications go beyond that, i think it gets more complicated. one other thing i noted is that the civilian population is protected under article 54 product: one, which would be the relevant article for the prosecution of starvation implications here. it is not limited to the stipulation population of the party or that has a connection to the conflict. i think the difficulty would be showing sufficient approximate cause between this wrongful act to render that plausibly covered within the starvation prohibition. i think that would be possible if we are talking about civilian populations across the border that is affected by deprivation. or broader economic effects. which is not to say that it is something we should not be pursued and considered, but i don't think it is straightforward. >> in your opinion, when might
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the use of starvation against the civilian population constitute the crime of genocide? are there any past or present situations involving intentional starvation or other information you characterizes genocide? miss murdock? >> yes, absolutely. the only instance that comes from a criminal perspective straight to mind is in the bas hir incident arrest warrants. the reference there in arrest warrants to the tactic of of course civilian death. i think it is very clear that starvation could quite well.
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-- quite well-paid within that. i think in tigray, there has been a lot of discussion about the language of genocide and whether it fits in the matrix of that pattern and within the starvation violations. i think there is a very clear link between them and i think there are number of instances where it would be critical. >> yeah. a couple things to say. first, when you're looking at genocide there are five possible acts. the one most relevant theory. so, causing starvation in a particular region would be inflicting those types of conditions. then the question is, do you have genocidal intent? that is always the threshold,
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showing that there was undertaken with the intent to destroy a national or religious group. so that is always the challenge that i think part of the issue was already mentioned, whether that threshold would be satisfied out of the international court or any court that will ultimately hear that case. clearly, you have the infliction of conditions calculated to bring about destruction of the population in question. the question is does that intent to destroy a particular racial, ethnic or national group as such? that is the legal challenge. it is not just war crimes of starvation and genocide, there are crimes against humanity. mass murder where you don't need to show that specific destructive intent or other
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inhumane acts which is a broader category within crimes against humanity. >> due either of you see prospects for prosecuting starvation crimes in yemen? >> i think the biggest issue is jurisdictional. the ipc does not have jurisdiction. the question would be whether a domestic court could exercise universal jurisdiction. the one area where there is potential jurisdiction is with respect to complicity in that particular conduct. that goes to questions of arms supplied to belligerents in that particular conflict. and the point at which that would rise to the level of criminal complicity. but there it would potentially have jurisdiction of the international criminal court.
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that could constitute a coalition in the context of yemen, otherwise it is challenging certainly with respect to the principal perpetrators. >> miss murdoch, do you have any words? >> i would add to that. it is a really difficult situation for many. one of the challenges with yemen in terms of euros -- universal jurisdiction, with yemen, you don't have a population like you do with syria. you haven't seen the sort of diaspora of yemen. then the second challenge we have is, and i won't go into the political side of things, the closure of the group of experts
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in yemen. the human rights council voted not to extended this year. there is very little other existing bodies now to receive this kind of information. there is a number of significant challenges, and that's why an investigative mechanism looking at human and the starvation ask there is really critical in my view. >> i want to thank you both for your testimony and for your answer to the questions. we've had a discussion about this crime that is very really hurting here. but i appreciate that. i don't miss hall is still on the call, i don't want to violate any protocols, but is there additional comments that anybody wants to make for the record.
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i would certainly welcome them. mr. dent, is there anything you would like to add that you think is important for the record? >> thank you, chairman. the only thing i want to add in terms of steps the united states could take, one thing that came to light, in the new york times reporting, worthy impediments to the international criminal court investigating in this context in ukraine, but generally legislative impediments to the u.s. corporation through the 1999 appropriations law that prevents providing material support the icc, and the protection act which limits other forms of support.
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i really hope that the situation in ukraine prompts a revision of those impediments, prompts open cooperation with the international criminal court is, not just in the context of ukraine, but more broadly. this is an opportunity to reassess the united states' po sture towards the icc, and it is actually out of the u.s. national interest to support this institution and to ultimately become party to it, but certainly cooperate in an effective multiple investigations and situations. thank you for holding this hearing on this extremely important issue. i appreciate it. >> for what it's worth, i agree with you. miss murdock. >> thank you for the opportunity. i would like to reiterate the importance of these critical early investigations across a number of conflicts particularly
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in ukraine at the moment. and vicki need to preserve that critical evidence before it is lost, or becomes toxic. that is the case across a number of conflicts, whether there is an accountability jurisdictional mechanism, or available mechanism for that evidence to be heard, the importance is preservation of evidence in the event that future accountability mechanisms are able to do with them. thank you very much for the opportunity to raise this really important subject. i'm grateful for the opportunity. >> miss hall? >> thank you so much, chairman. my final comment would be to reiterate, this is a hunger that we face in the world today that is a solvable problem. there is no magic here. we produce enough food, it is a question of getting it to the right people at the right time.
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to echo what my colleagues have assessed, it is just a matter of clinical wealth. and it is within our grasp. if you put agriculture at the center of that humanitarian crisis, so we can get to the most vulnerable people who are in need right now is what fao is all about. and is what i hope you take away for the session. thank you so much. >> i want to thank all of you. i always tell people that hunger is a political condition. it is not like we do not have the food or the resources, nor the ability to help people get what they need. it is the political will. that goes for times of conflict. and when things are relatively calm, but there are other factors that play a role in hunger. and the reason why this hearing was important. people always talk about the cruelty of war.
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but food is weaponized that , people are denied just basic necessities as a weapon of war is especially cruel. and that there are entities, leaders, governments, even nongovernmental players that intentionally engage in that kind of warfare. i think it is beyond unconscionable. and but it is happening now. it is happening in a number of countries we talked about. i think we need to elevate this topic. because i do think there should be a consequence for those who engage in this behavior. i'm someone who believes that food is a fundamental human right for every single human being on this planet. as a member of congress, i'm embarrassed and ashamed that close to 40 million people in this country do not know where
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their next meal is going to come from. i feel the same way about global hunger. i feel that we need to have better responses when hunger is basically used as a weapon of war. some of that is how we respond, of course. some of that is mitigation. some of that is creating models that can sustain difficult periods that people are forced to go through. but anyway, this has been a very useful hearing. i want to thank all of you for taking the time. thank you for your work as well. it in the coming days and weeks, something should hit you that we should be doing more in congress please reach out to us. ,there is a bipartisan commission.
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we work in a bipartisan way. we have a history of being able to move things when we come to an agreement. having said that, i think you all very much. please be safe. we will talk to you soon. this concludes the hearing. announcer: c-span's "washington journal." every day we take your calls live on the air on the news of the day. and we discuss policy issues that impact you. wednesday morning we talk about the president's decision to rescind a title 42 and its impact on the asylum cases and the immigration process with a member of the american lawyers association. we will discuss the national security strategy of the united states plus russia's invasion of ukraine with former deputy under secretary of defense. watch "washington journal" live at 7:00 a.m. eastern.
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