Reports Chart Path to Accountability for Mass Starvation

This project is a collaboration between WPF and Global Rights Compliance.

Global Rights Compliance in partnership with The World Peace Foundation combine their expertise on conflict and food insecurity to identify how international law may be used to advance the prevention, prohibition, and accountability for mass starvation. Delineating the elements of starvation crimes, disentangling what is permissible and impermissible in warfare, and understanding the complementary enforcement regimes, will help to clarify the law and build a range of relevant skills enhancing the potential for redress and accountability. The Project will work towards operationalising UN Security Council Resolution S/RES/2417 (‘UNSC 2417’), through a concerted focus on the legal and factual, demands raised by mass starvation, especially with regard to the direct impact of armed conflict on food security, ensuring that UNSC 2417 delivers more than rhetoric. 


“The Purposes of Starvation: Historical and Contemporary Uses” by Bridget Conley and Alex de Waal” published by the Journal of International Criminal Justice, in a special edition on Starvation and International Law, edited by  Antonio Coco, Jérôme de Hemptinne, and Brian Lander. Among the many excellent articles in the issue, is one by our colleagues in the Accountability for Starvation project, Wayne Jordash, Catriona Murdoch and Joe Holmes, “Strategies for Prosecuting Mass Starvation.”

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Opinio Juris was the world’s first blog dedicated to the informed discussion of international law by and among academics, practitioners and legal experts.

Pandemic of Hunger Symposium: Reflections on UNSC 2417 – A Preventative Tool, an Accountability Response, or Both?, Global Rights Compliance Group, May 17, 2021

A Pandemic of Hunger Symposium: Implementing UN Security Council Resolution 2417, Global Rights Compliance Group (GRC), May 17, 2021

Pandemic of Hunger Symposium: Starvation by Warfare–The Campaign of Air Strikes Against Yemen’s Farms, Ali Jameel and Niku Jafarnia, Mwatana for Human Rights, May 18, 2021

Pandemic of Hunger Symposium: The Ethio-Eritrean Hunger Plan for Tigray and the Failure of Resolution 2417, Alex de Waal, World Peace Foundation, May 18, 2021

Pandemic of Hunger Symposium: Famine in a NIAC’s Shadow–Other Situations of Violence and a Challenge for UNSCR 2417, Chris Newton, Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, May 20, 2021

Pandemic of Hunger Symposium: Population Transfers and the Civilian Toll of Starvation as a Method of Warfare in Syria and South Sudan, Yousuf Syed Khan, United Nations Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan, May 20, 2021

Pandemic of Hunger Symposium: The Humanitarian Crisis in North-East Nigeria–A Time to Act, Jared Miller, The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, May 21, 2021

This series of reports for the project “Accountability for Starvation: Testing the Limits of the Law,” together analyze how existing law might apply to starvation crimes, and document specific instances in Syria, South Sudan and Yemen.

Accountability for Starvation Crimes: Yemen

September 2019

Sama’a al-Hamdani, Alex de Waal and Global Rights Compliance, (World Peace Foundation and Global Rights Compliance)

Policy Brief No. 4

Accountability for Starvation Crimes: Syria

June 2019

Mohammad Kanfash and Ali al-Jasem (Damaan Humanitarian Organization

Accountability for Starvation: South Sudan

June 2019

Tong Deng Anei, Alex de Waal and Bridget Conley (World Peace Foundation)

The Crimes of Starvation and Methods of Prosecution and Accountability

June 2019

Global Rights Compliance (GRC)

Key Outputs:

A Role for Social Nutrition in Strengthening Accountability for Mass Starvation?” by Susanne Jaspars (WPF Occasional Paper #18), June 24, 2019. This paper aims to stimulate discussion of the role of social or politically-oriented approaches to nutrition in situations of famine and crisis. More specifically, it examines whether there is a role for social nutrition in strengthening accountability for mass starvation.

Movement Towards Accountability for Starvation,” Project Briefing Paper, February 2019.  While international criminal law (‘ICL’) has become increasingly sophisticated and robust over the past decades, it has largely failed to address crimes related to starvation. This is partially due to lacunae in the relevant law, but it is also due to prosecutorial and political will, or rather the lack thereof, to apply the existing law. Despite significant challenges, during 2018, governments reached consensus that international law prohibits starvation as a weapon of war. This briefing paper summarizes two key advances: the adoption of UN Security Council Resolution S/RES/2417 (‘UNSC 2417’) and a move to amend the Rome Statute so that the prohibition of starvation applies in both International Armed Conflicts (IAC) and in Non-international Armed Conflicts (NIAC).

Accountability for Starvation Project Overview,” Global Rights Compliance and the World Peace Foundation, Project Overview, October 2018. This paper provides a short overview of the project’s activities and goals.    

Can We Prosecute Starvation?” by Global Rights Compliance and the World Peace Foundation, Briefing Paper, May 1, 2018. Famine is properly understood as an atrocity: the result of distinct and often criminally intentional policies that target discrete populations in the pursuit of military or political goals. Famines will no longer occur when they are so morally reprehensible that causing them, or allowing them to happen, is unthinkable. In order to achieve this goal, we need a sharper application of international law. Although starvation has appeared in a handful of prosecutions in international criminal law over the modern era, there have been a dearth of prosecutions resting squarely on the crime been a dearth of prosecutions resting squarely on the crime of starvation.

More information is available on the project website: