Bipartisan Resolution Condemning Starvation as a Weapon of War Passes the Senate

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Todd Young (R-IN), Cory Booker (D-NJ), John Thune (R-SD), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), and James Risch (R-ID) announced that their bipartisan Senate resolution condemning the use of starvation and hunger as weapons of war has passed the Senate unanimously.

In May, the Senators introduced their resolution not only condemning the use of hunger as a weapon of war, but also recognizing the effect of conflict on global food security and famine, which was then swiftly voted out of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee less than a month later.

“From Ukraine to Syria to Ethiopia, we have and continue to watch with horror as bad actors destroy agriculture, deny humanitarian access, and disrupt markets for crucial commodities in a twisted effort to achieve their geopolitical aims through starvation,” said Senator Merkley. “Today’s passage of our resolution by the full Senate reaffirms our united stand that civilians everywhere must be protected during war and that hunger should never be used as a weapon to turn civilians into pawns.”

“It is time for the United States to hold those who use food as a weapon of war accountable for their horrific action,” said Senator Young. “From Yemen to Ukraine, the world’s most vulnerable are suffering in unspeakable ways. Today’s Senate passage of our resolution sends a clear message that the United States will use all of the tools and authorities at our disposal to end these abuses.”

“Today, the Senate sent a strong bipartisan message to condemn all those who use hunger as a weapon of war,” said Sen. Booker. “With conflicts around the world such as Russia’s unjustified invasion of Ukraine, violence in the Horn of Africa, and continued unrest in Afghanistan and Yemen, millions of people are currently at risk of hunger and starvation. As this resolution lays out, the United States has a moral responsibility to extend urgent humanitarian assistance to vulnerable populations globally, bolster the global food supply chain, and hold individuals and governments accountable if they perpetrate these atrocities.”

“Hunger and famine must not become weapons of war,” said Thune. “This bipartisan resolution reinforces the United States’ and its partners’ responsibility to work together to restore global stability and hold individuals and governments accountable for conflicts that drive global hunger and jeopardize food security.”

“I am honored to bear witness as the Senate speaks today with one voice: we cannot stand by as despots from Russia to Ethiopia continue to exploit hunger to advance wartime goals,” Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Menendez said. “Ongoing and exacerbated disruptions in supply chains, obstructions to food production, and transport hub blockades are shaking vulnerable communities to their cores, with millions worldwide losing access to basic and necessary goods. Today’s passage must serve as a powerful call to action for the United States and broader international community. Our efforts to halt this callous manipulation of civilians and to hold perpetrators to account has never been more critical.”

“From Russia’s war in Ukraine to Ethiopia, South Sudan, and Yemen, bad actors are deliberately destroying agricultural goods and infrastructure, manipulating markets, blocking access by humanitarians, and ultimately starving innocent civilians to death in a callous attempt to advance political or military objectives,” said Risch. “This appalling practice cannot stand. Senate passage of our resolution should send a clear message to Putin and others that the United States will use every tool at our disposal to ensure our food assistance is not being manipulated and that those who use hunger as a weapon will be held accountable.”

Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine has further highlighted how brutal autocrats weaponize hunger. By disrupting Ukraine’s planting season and substantial food exports and by reportedly stealing vast quantities of grain from Ukraine, Russia has put millions around the globe at risk of famine.

This resolution is cosponsored by Senator Chris Coons (D-CT), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Alex Padilla (D-CA), Edward J. Markey (D-MA), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Mark Kelly (D-AZ), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Tina Smith (D-MN), Bob Casey (D-PA), and Michael Bennett (D-CO).

A bipartisan House version led by Representatives Sara Jacobs (D-CA), Peter Meijer (R-MI), Bobby L. Rush (D-IL), and Tracey Mann (R-KS) was introduced earlier this year.

This resolution is endorsed by the following organizations:1,000 Days, Action Against Hunger, Alliance for Peacebuilding, Bread for the World, Caux Scholars Program, Center for Policy Analysis of Horn of Africa, Charity & Security Network , Concern Worldwide US, EIHR: The Educators’ Institute for Human Rights, Food for the Hungry US, Friends Committee on National Legislation, Ghais Mediation & Facilitation, LLC, Islamic Relief USA, Medical Teams International, Mercy Corps, Nonviolent Peaceforce, Norwegian Refugee Council USA, Oxfam America, PartnersGlobal, Refugees International, Save the Children, The HALO Trust (USA), The Hunger Project, UNICEF USA, World Food Program USA, World Vision, and Young Adult Empowerment Initiatives.

Full text of the resolution can be found here.