Call for input - Human Rights and Starvation, with an emphasis on the Palestinian People’s Food Sovereignty

Deadline : 14 June 2024

In his forthcoming thematic report to the UN General Assembly (autumn 2024 session), the UN Special Rapporteur aims to: 1. Provide an understanding of starvation as a violation of international law and through the lens of human rights. 2. Focus on the Palestinian People’s food sovereignty as an exemplary case that highlights the relationship between human rights and the prevention of starvation.

Over the past 7 months in Gaza, Israel has been starving 2.3 million Palestinian people at a speed never witnessed in modern history. Never have this many civilians been made to go hungry so quickly and completely with the first reported deaths of children by starvation dating back to January 2024. Today, all of Gaza is in famine, a situation which will have irreversible consequences especially for children. But even if the conflict were to end today, food systems in Gaza are in shatters. At least one third of Gaza’s agricultural lands, the fishing fleet and irrigation systems are destroyed. In Gaza, starvation is being used as a weapon of war, which has unleashed violence at a genocidal scale.

Even though the international community has taken notice of the risk of starvation and genocide since late October, the response has not adequately prevented the unfolding of starvation and genocide. While famines often arise in the context of armed conflict or political collapse, certain political, economic and social conditions make some areas more prone to famine than others.

In war, food and food systems are frequently targeted with the intent to starve civilians.

Building on his previous work on the right to food in armed conflict, the questions the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food will explore in his forthcoming report are:

What does starvation in Gaza tell us about international law and international institutions?

What norms beyond the fields of international humanitarian law and international criminal law are relevant?

What does human rights law have to say about starvation? What is the relationship between human rights and starvation? What can be done to prevent starvation in the future?

Key questions and types of input/comments sought


  • How can human rights provide a way of generating an “early warning” to prevent starvation?
  • If starvation is caused by political failures, what international institutional changes are necessary to avoid such failures?
  • The last two famines, as measured by the IPC were Somalia in 2011 and South Sudan in 2017. What were the root causes of famine in each case and who was responsible? What lessons were learned about preventing famine from those two situations?
  • What are the root causes of food insecurity in places where this is currently a high risk of famine like Burkina Faso, Mali, South Sudan and Sudan or places of emergency conditions of acute food security such as Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Haiti, Pakistan, Somalia, the Syrian Arab Republic, and Yemen?
  • Palestine and the Palestinian People

  • What actions of solidarity and care are you providing the Palestinian people? Please explain why this work is an act of solidarity.
  • What should be done to enhance the Palestinian People’s food sovereignty and how can Palestinian peasants, small-scale fishers, pastoralists and small food producers be supported?
  • How inputs will be used

    Inputs will be published on the Special Rapporteur’s webpage. If you do not wish your input to be published, please specify it in the submission.

    Next Steps

    Email your responses to the questionnaire by 14 June 2024 in Word or PDF format.

    Email address:

    Email subject line: Inputs for starvation report

    Word limit: 800 words

    File formats: Word, PDF

    Accepted languages: English, Spanish, French

    • Agriculture
    • Destruction of habitat
    • Food (rights, sovereignty, crisis)
    • Human rights
    • Indigenous peoples
    • International
    • Legal frameworks
    • Norms and standards
    • People under occupation
    • Regional
    • Research
    • UN HR bodies
    • UN system