Somalia's Famine Is An 'Act Of Mass Murder'

In his latest Foreign Policy column, Charles Kenny, a senior fellow at the Center for Global Development, argues that famine is a crime. Famines “don’t happen any more in any country where leaders show the slightest interest in the wellbeing of their citizenry. … In order to ensure widespread death by starvation, a governing authority must make a conscious decision: it must actively exercise the power to take food from producers who need it or deny food assistance to victims,” he writes.

Kenny notes that Somalia’s al-Shabab, which controls areas of the country where the famine is concentrated, “is widely recognized as a terror organization,” which means that “it hardly seems likely that the international community has much to lose here.” He concludes, “So now would be as good a time as any to set a precedent with a U.N. Security Council referral of al-Shabab’s leadership to the ICC [International Criminal Court], on the grounds of crimes against humanity by method of mass starvation. That would make clear the international community fully understands that famine is not an act of God, but an act of mass murder” (7/25).

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