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.”