Senate Foreign Relations Committee Passes Bipartisan Resolution Condemning Starvation as a Weapon of War

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 was unanimously voted out of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. 

The Senators introduced the resolution last month, 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. 

“From Ukraine to Syria to Ethiopia, we are watching 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 my resolution is a clear, bipartisan call for our government to ensure that civilians are protected during war, which is a cornerstone of international law.”  

“It is time for the United States to hold those who use food as a weapon of war accountable for their horrific actions,” said Senator Young. “From Yemen to Ukraine, the world’s most vulnerable are suffering in unspeakable ways. By advancing this bipartisan resolution, we send a clear message that the United States federal government must use all of the tools and authorities at our disposal to end these abuses.” 

“I am glad to see this bipartisan resolution pass out of committee,” said Senator Booker. “With the ongoing, unjustified invasion of Ukraine, the war in Yemen, and conflicts in the Horn of Africa, millions of people in conflict-laden regions are suffering from food insecurity, with vulnerable populations around the world experiencing the ripple effects. As this resolution lays out, the United States has a responsibility to hold those who use hunger as a weapon of war accountable, to pursue every humanitarian avenue possible to ensure people have access to food, and to strengthen the global food supply against future threats.”

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

“I am proud to bear witness as our Committee speaks with one voice to condemn the increasing and appalling use of hunger as a weapon of war,” Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Menendez said. “From Ethiopia to Ukraine, the ongoing disruption of supply chains, obstruction to or halting of food production, and shutting down of key ports and other transport hubs are actively pushing millions of people towards famine by limiting their access to basic goods. As Putin and others callously exploit food insecurity to advance wartime goals, we cannot stand idly by. I thank my colleagues’ work on this common sense resolution and look forward to continue working together to hold to account all despots flouting international law.”

“Conflict is a major driver of food insecurity, and warring factions in Ethiopia, South Sudan, Syria, and Yemen continue to engage in the willful destruction of agricultural goods and infrastructure, manipulate markets, and impose security and bureaucratic barriers upon humanitarians – culminating in the deliberate starvation of civilians,” said Senator Risch. “Now, Russia is taking its own starvation campaign global. The resolution we passed today condemns the deliberate use of hunger as a weapon of war and calls upon the U.S. government and our partners to respond to needs in real time and hold perpetrators accountable. It is critical we use every tool at our disposal to ensure food assistance is not being manipulated or used against the civilians that so desperately need it.”

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. 

Senator Chris Coons (D-CT) is also a cosponsor of this resolution. 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