UN Security Council condemns starvation of civilians as a war tactic – S/RES/2417 (2018)

Human Rights – Conflicts – Tactics of Warfare – Starvation of Civilians

UN Security Council condemns starvation of civilians as a war tactic
24 May 2018
Denouncing the starvation of civilians as a method of warfare and the unlawful denial of humanitarian access to those need, the United Nations Security Council underscored that all parties to armed conflict must uphold their obligations under international law and protect civilians from harm.

Adopting resolution 2417 (2018), the Security Council also called upon those “with influence over parties to armed conflict, to remind the latter of their obligation to comply with international humanitarian law.”

International humanitarian law explicitly forbids any attacks targeting civilians and civilian infrastructure, and requires all warring sides to allow, respect and protect the work of humanitarian actors, in alleviating human suffering.

Starvation of civilians as a method of warfare may constitute a war crime – Security Council
In the resolution, the Council also said that it could consider adopting sanctions, “where appropriate and in line with existing practice, that can be applied to individuals or entities obstructing the delivery of humanitarian assistance, or access to, or distribution of, humanitarian assistance.”

The landmark resolution, adopted unanimously by the 15-member Security Council, also underscored the link between armed conflict and conflict induced food insecurity and the threat of famine.

It also drew attention to the “particular impact” of armed conflict on women, children, as well as other vulnerable groups such as persons with disabilities, older persons, refugees and displaced persons.

The Council also reaffirmed “the important role of women in the prevention and resolution of conflicts and in peacebuilding, and [stressed] the importance of their equal participation and full involvement in all efforts for the maintenance and promotion of peace and security, and the need to increase their role in decision making with regard to conflict prevention and resolution.”

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S/RES/2417 (2018)
Adopted by the Security Council at its 8267th meeting, on 24 May 2018 :: 4 pages
[Excerpts]
Deeply concerned about the level of global humanitarian needs and the threat of famine presently facing millions of people in armed conflicts, as well as about the number of undernourished people in the world which, after decades of decreasing, increased over the last two years, with the majority of food insecure people and seventy-five percent of all stunted children under the age of five living in countries affected by armed conflict, amounting to 74 million people facing crisis food insecurity or worse in situations of armed conflict…

1. Recalls the link between armed conflict and violence and conflict-induced food insecurity and the threat of famine, and calls on all parties to armed conflict to comply with their obligations under international humanitarian law regarding respecting and protecting civilians and taking constant care to spare civilian objects, including objects necessary for food production and distribution such as farms, markets, water systems, mills, food processing and storage sites, and hubs and means for food transportation, and refraining from attacking, destroying, removing or rendering useless objects that are indispensable to the survival of the civilian population, such as foodstuffs, crops, livestock, agricultural assets, drinking water installations and supplies, and irrigation works, and respecting and protecting humanitarian personnel and consignments used for humanitarian relief operations;

2. Stresses in this regard that armed conflict, violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law, and food insecurity can be drivers of forced displacement, and, conversely, forced displacement in countries in armed conflict can have a devastating impact on agricultural production and livelihoods, recalls the relevant prohibition on the forced displacement of civilians in armed conflict, and stresses the importance of fully complying with international humanitarian law and other applicable international law in this context;

3. Stresses the need for humanitarian assistance to be gender- and age-sensitive, and to remain responsive to the different needs of the population, ensuring that these needs are integrated in the humanitarian response;

4. Calls on all parties to armed conflict to comply with their obligations under international humanitarian law, and underlines the importance of safe and unimpeded access of humanitarian personnel to civilians in armed conflicts, calls upon all parties concerned, including neighbouring States, to cooperate fully with the United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator and United Nations agencies in providing such access, invites States and the Secretary-General to bring to its attention information regarding the unlawful denial of such access in violation of international law, where such denial may constitute a threat to international peace and security, and, in this regard, expresses its willingness to consider such information and, when necessary, to adopt appropriate steps;

5. Strongly condemns the use of starvation of civilians as a method of warfare in a number of conflict situations and prohibited by international humanitarian law;

6. Strongly condemns the unlawful denial of humanitarian access and depriving civilians of objects indispensable to their survival, including wilfully impeding relief supply and access for responses to conflict-induced food insecurity in situations of armed conflict, which may constitute a violation of international humanitarian law;

7. Urges all parties to protect civilian infrastructure which is critical to the delivery of humanitarian aid and to ensure the proper functioning of food systems and markets in situations of armed conflict;

8. Urges those with influence over parties to armed conflict to remind the latter of their obligation to comply with international humanitarian law;

9. Recalls that the Council has adopted and can consider to adopt sanction measures, where appropriate and in line with existing practice, that can be applied to individuals or entities obstructing the delivery of humanitarian assistance, or access to, or distribution of, humanitarian assistance…