Criminalizing Starvation

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Starvation during armed conflicts has primarily been conceived as a humanitarian concern, even when the direct causes are political and military. How might international law be brought to bear on individual culpability for creating conditions of starvation? Existing international humanitarian law and the Rome Statute, prohibit acts of starvation. However, this has yet to be specified fully or tested in court. To date, no prosecutions have occurred under Article 8(2)(b)(xxv) of the Rome Statute, and starvation has only been referenced in cases brought under other rubrics. This panel will also discuss possible legal frameworks that might be deployed to pursue prosecution of those responsible for starvation crimes, and the contexts in which such efforts might be successful. It considers the varying allegations of starvation in Yemen, from blockade, to siege, to economic tactics. And it further considers the dilemmas this may pose for humanitarians.

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Alex De Waal