(As delivered)

Statement by H.E. Ambassador Koro Bessho

Permanent Representative of Japan to the United Nations

At the Security Council Arria-Formula Open Meeting

“Responding to the Secretary-General’s Call to Action on the Risk of Famine

In the Conflict Affected Areas of Yemen, Somalia, South Sudan and Northeast Nigeria”

16 June 2017



Madame Moderator,  


          I would like to begin by thanking you for moderating this event and Ambassador Delattre for his leadership in convening this meeting. I am honored to co-sponsor this important event. I would also like to thank the distinguished briefers for very impactful remarks they made.


          Japan is deeply concerned by the serious state of food insecurity in Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan, Yemen and many other countries. Over 20 million people are facing severe food shortages in their countries. The international community must respond to the Secretary-General’s “Call to action”.


Madame Moderator,


          Each country’s situation stems from different root causes. Conflict, violent extremism, drought, displacement, disrupted markets and livelihoods are just some of the diverse causes. Clearly, in order to fight this kind of situation, it is critical to involve actors across the humanitarian, development and peace communities, breaking down silos that hamper a swift and lasting solution. We are happy to see World Bank’s representative here today.


          Sadly, conflict, and not natural disasters, is the main cause of food insecurity in most cases we are discussing today. Conflicts destroy livelihoods and food production, force people to flee and hamper food distribution. Furthermore, conflicts impede effective humanitarian access to those who most desperately need help. In some cases, starvation has become a part of deliberate strategies to gain or maintain political control and military advantage.



          The Security Council must address such problems and contribute to the mitigation, resolution, and if possible, prevention of food crises. We must urge all relevant parties to cease hostilities, adhere to international humanitarian law and secure unimpeded humanitarian access.


          François, the French PR, asked how we can do this–you know as well as I do that there is no magic wand. In addition to what the Security Council can do, which was mentioned quite eloquently by Nikki, our friend, we must each do what we can do and continue to do so until there’s improvements.


          Conflict causes food insecurity. But the causal link could be the other way round. Food insecurity triggers or exacerbates social and political tensions, which culminates in a conflict. Food insecurity serves as an early warning signal of a potential pending conflict.


          For all these reasons, the Council should be alert and receive updates from the Secretariat on the state of food insecurity. Informal situational awareness briefing, such as the one we had in March is one useful example of how the Secretariat and the Council can better be coordinated.


Madame Moderator,


          Being unable to plant or harvest at the appropriate time due to fighting or displacement of the population can severely impact mid-and long-term food security as well. This can be a trigger for repeated recurrence of conflict. We might be able to rehabilitate damaged farms, but we cannot bring back the lives lost in famine.


          In order to prevent further escalation of crises, the international community has to provide assistance rapidly and in a well-coordinated manner. The vicious cycle between food insecurity and conflict must be brought to a halt through our joint effort. 


          From January to March this year, Japan has provided approximately 70 million US dollars for projects such as food, nutrition, health and water and sanitation in these four countries, as well as Ethiopia and Kenya. In March, Japan decided to provide additional Emergency Grant Aid of 26 million US dollars, which is now being implemented. Many other countries and organizations have risen to the challenge, but we definitely must do more.


Madame Moderator,


          The alerting response by the Secretary General on this issue contrasts strongly with the famine in Somalia six years ago. We welcome such unhesitatingly early warning in order to prevent us from facing further occurrence of famine. We have learnt a huge lesson through heavy sacrifices six years ago. We must do better, much better this time.


I thank you, Madame Moderator.



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