Statement by Ambassador Harold Agyeman, Ghana’s Representative to the United Nations, at the UN Security Council Open Debate on Famine and Conflict-Induced Global Food Insecurity

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August 2, 2023

Mr. President,

  1. I convey to you the warm regards of Minister Botchwey and acknowledge the United States’ leadership on the important issue of global food insecurity, which, thrice in your successive presidencies, has found expression in the Council’s work. I assure you of Ghana’s support and cooperation during your presidency this month and congratulate Ambassador Barbara Woodward and the United Kingdom delegation for effectively leading the Council during the month of July. We also thank Ms. Reena Ghelani, Mr. David Miliband and Ms. Navyn Salem for their briefing which underscored the magnitude of famine globally and the severity of conflict-induced food insecurity, including for vulnerable countries and populations in Africa.

Mr. President,

The stark reality of food insecurity across the world is alarming: 828 million people are suffering from severe or moderate food insecurity and 50 million people are on the brink of starvation. These numbers reflect the lives of real people and tell a harrowing story of our collective failure to address this most basic of human needs. Five years since the adoption of resolution 2417, conflict has remained a primary driver of acute food insecurity. However, food insecurity is not only a consequence of violent conflict. Combined with other factors, it can be a driver of violent conflict and a contributory factor for the emergence and length of conflicts.

In several places across the world, rising food and fuel prices have led to widespread unrest and instability, and on the African continent, where the fragilities are deep, sharp rises in food prices have often correlated with political dissatisfaction, protests and agitations that have affected political stability. Today, as a result of the impact of the war on Ukraine, we see the disruptive influence of food insecurity in every country and on everyone. We are bound in our experience by the strong headwinds that the aggression against Ukraine has created in our socio economic circumstances. While we therefore welcome the recent announcement by the Russia Federation at the Second Russia-Africa Summit to provide grain shipments to six (6) African countries at no cost, we are concerned and deeply disappointed that the Black Sea Grain Initiative has not been renewed. A renewal of the Initiative, accompanied by a resolution of challenges with the export of Russian ammonia as well as agricultural products and fertilizers to global markets, represents a more durable way to prevent speculative spikes in global food prices and strengthen global food security, while mitigating their knockon effects. We therefore call on the Russian Federation to return to the deal and for all parties to work constructively to ensure the renewal of the Initiative.

Mr. President,

As we reflect over the implementation of resolution 2417 and the important contribution it has made in the past five (5) years, Ghana believes that we must be focused on the important task of breaking the destructive link between conflict and hunger by ensuring that the associated positive effects of food systems can promote peace and the supply of safe and nutritious food to civilians. In this regard, we continue to urge the international community to implement a series of emergency measures and simultaneously pursue long-term investments to break the vicious circle of hunger and conflict.

In respect of the immediate measures:

  1. Ghana urges for urgency and scaling of our actions to respond to the acute food insecurity and nutrition needs of the millions of vulnerable people in conflict situations around the world, especially in Africa, which is the hardest hit. We call on the international community and donor agencies to respond to the underfunded humanitarian response plans (HRP) for African countries and to prioritize the implementation of humanitarian response plans for countries in West Africa and the Sahel by helping to meet the US$3.5 billion target required to tackle the increasing humanitarian needs.
  2. We also urge the strengthening of prepositioned assets at global and regional humanitarian hubs to help interconnect food stocks quickly and effectively with the growing humanitarian needs.

III. We encourage the strong deployment of all efforts to reverse the rapid and dramatic deterioration in food security observed in conflict-affected settings and urge a unified call by the international community in demanding that parties to conflict comply with their obligations under international law, including international humanitarian law and human rights law.

Mr. President,

We emphasise the need for long-term investments in developing countries, especially on the African continent, where there is an acute alignment between food insecurity and conflicts. In relation to this, I would make three brief additional points.

  1. First, our actions must continue to emphasise the preservation of the peace, the prevention of conflicts, and the early deployment of pacific means for the resolution of disputes before they lead to violence between States or within a State.
  2. Second, our actions must focus on building resilience in economies and food systems. Besides acknowledging the effects that climate change has on food insecurity and conflicts, our common efforts should also support initiatives such as;

(i) the African Common Position for Sustainable Food Systems; (ii) the further implementation of the African Union’s Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme and its results framework; (iii) regional food security facilities such as ECOWAS’ Food Security Reserve; and (iv) the effective implementation of the African Development Bank’s facility to boost food security, nutrition and resilience on the continent.

III. Thirdly, we need to bridge the gap between needs and supplies especially for regions that may be experiencing drought conditions and where the impact of climate change induced situations could aggravate conflicts. In this regard, we urge support for the accelerated implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) to help avert future food supply chain disruptions on the African continent.

Mr. President,

In concluding, Ghana would like to underscore the need to act with urgency, at scale, and in concert to respond to the urgent food security and nutrition needs of the millions of vulnerable people around the world, whose situation have been worsened by conflicts. We must also be resolved to provide immediate humanitarian assistance, build resilience of the most vulnerable and strengthen sustainable, resilient, and inclusive food systems in line with the 2030 Agenda for the Sustainable Development and its Sustainable Development Goals.

I thank you for your attention.


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