Dan Maxwell and Dyan Mazurana contribute chapters to book on mass starvation

The book Accountability for Mass Starvation: Testing the Limits of the Law was published in August 2022 by Oxford University Press. Feinstein faculty authored two of the chapters.

Chapter 11: “Humanitarian Challenges and Implications for Famine Early Warning Systems” by Dan Maxwell.

This chapter provides an overview of famine early warning systems (EWS) that have developed since the 1970s. With advances in the measurement and monitoring of malnutrition, augmented by new information and communication technologies, these systems have become increasingly sophisticated in the past decade, but they still tend to be based on the assumption that extreme food insecurity is an amplified version of regular seasonal stresses in agrarian societies, and is driven primarily by environmental and economic factors. Despite internationally agreed priorities about the links between armed conflict and extreme hunger, EWS can’t always deal directly with the question of deliberately inflicted hunger. This is partly because they are either government-owned systems (and governments are frequently parties to the conflicts that cause contemporary famines) or they are managed by UN agencies that have to negotiate presence in and access to affected populations, and are therefore reluctant to anger parties to the conflict (be they government or non-state actors). Even attempting to track and analyze conflict can be difficult; tracking or analyzing the use of hunger as a weapon of war is difficult for these formal, government- or UN-led systems. These arguments are exemplified in discussion of Somalia, South Sudan, Syria, and Yemen.

Chapter 13: “Sex, Gender, Age, and Mass Starvation” by Dyan Mazurana, Bridget Conley, and Kinsey Spears

This chapter applies an analysis of sex, gender, and age to issues related to mass starvation, including risks, protection, and accountability. Discussing the evidence from across cases of famine and mass starvation, the chapter proposes that in contexts where sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) inhibits maternal care, SGBV might be considered as a specific starvation crime. It further argues that mass starvation and SGBV are mutually reinforcing atrocity crimes. Widespread conditions of deprivation and starvation can increase the risk of SGBV. At the same time, SGBV, and in some cases even the threat of SGBV, can increase the risk of starvation, in ways that differ by sex, gender, age, and context. The authors document and analyze the long-term, intergenerational gender- and age-influenced health and socio-cultural risks associated with exposure to mass starvation. They conclude with recommendations for how to improve the investigation, analysis, research, and prosecution of SGBV in the context of mass starvation.

The book was edited by Bridget Conley, Alex de Waal, Catriona Murdoch, and Wayne Jordash QC.