A Path to Peace and Stability Through Food Aid

Constant war drove Fazle, his wife and four children away from their home and farm in the Khyber region of Pakistan eight years ago. They loved their home, but with all the shooting and the armed extremist groups, he had to leave or endure the death, destruction and instability that comes with war.

David Beasley chatting with Fazle, a farmer and father of five who fled his home for 7 years because of conflict in Pakistan. Photo: WFP Asia-Pacific

But seven years later, Fazle came back home, where I talked to him while visiting the area shortly after Easter, and he’s doing well. After getting six months of food aid, he got into a program that helped him set up a nursery. Now he’s earning about (US)$130 a month, four times his previous income.

What’s happening to Fazle and the area where he lives is an important sign of progress for how humanitarian efforts can build peace and long-term stability in countries where conflict and hunger intertwine

In the year since I became the executive director of the United Nations World Food Programme, I’ve travelled to many of the areas with the highest food insecurity – Yemen, South Sudan, northeast Nigeria, Somalia. I have met many people who worry about food, but they often ask me first for help in creating peace.

It’s easy to see why. Ten out of the 13 largest hunger crises in the world are conflict-driven, and 60 percent of the people in the world who are food insecure live in conflict zones.

The price is highest on children. Hunger, malnutrition and poor health often lead to stunting – a phrase used to describe severely impaired growth in these young bodies. Three out of every four stunted children in the world lives in a conflict area

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The Important Debate We’re Not Having

Foreign and security policy impacts everyone, and is therefore too important a topic to be silenced or restricted to the backrooms of government ministries.

In general Norwegians have a high level of knowledge on international affairs, not least reflected in a substantial societal interest in the subject. The world is changing rapidly, and Norway along with it, facing new challenges. As such, it is paradoxical that open debates on international affairs are so limited.

Norway’s Prime Minister Erna Solberg visited the Norwegian Armed Forces Cyber Defence at Jørstadmoen. Photo: Anette Ask / Forsvaret

Why is this? One common explanation for this is that there is so much consensus on foreign and security policy that there is little to discuss.

Another frequently heard explanation is that, despite a relatively high level of knowledge, much of the population still lacks the understanding that is required for decision-making in this field, so it is best to just keep quiet.

We also often hear a third explanation, which is that most people – voters – actually have little to no interest in the topic, despite evidence of the contrary.

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Hungary (Re)Elects in April

Looking at the most recent polls, Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orbán can be calm about the upcoming elections on the 8th of April. The only real question is whether his Fidesz party will win with a simple or a constitutional majority.

Viktor Orbán. Photo: European People’s Party. CC BY 2.0 / Flickr

But what is the secret of this football enthusiast? A seasoned politician with a background as a jurist, Orbán is an outstanding communicator, and comes across as a man who understands the average Hungarian citizen better than anyone.

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This Week in South Sudan – Week 13

Tuesday 27 March The President of the United States, Donald Trump, issued a “Notice Regarding the Continuation of the National Emergency with Respect to South Sudan”. This has been renewed on an annual basis since 2014 and opens for US sanctions against South Sudan. Unknown gunmen shot and killed a senior SPLA officer, Colonel John… Read more »

Popular Anti-Immigration Movements – and the Response of Democracy

All across Europe, we see growing opposition to immigration. Tough measures imposed by governments are limiting immigration but are not having the same effect on opposition to immigration.

Mounting polarization is putting Europe’s democracies as well as European cooperation to the test.

Hungarian-Serbian border barrier being built in 2015. Photo: Délmagyarország / Schmidt Andrea. CC BY-SA 3.0

I recently visited Warsaw, and then travelled on to Berlin. The capitals of two countries with a common border, but distinct political histories.Read More

Monitoring South Sudan Week 12

Tuesday 20. March The Government of South Sudan (GoSS) protested against last week’s decision by the UN Security Council to renew UNMISS’ mandate, saying they were not consulted on the matter. GoSS has suspended Vivacell’s licence, one of the largest telecommunication companies in the country, for failing to comply with government regulations. Former SPLA chief… Read more »

Measuring Women, Peace and Security

Last week, GIWPS together with the International Peace Institute and the Government of Norway cohosted a discussion on linking the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) Index to WPS in practice. The WPS Index, launched in October 2017 by GIWPS and PRIO at the United Nations, draws on recognized international data sources to rank 153 countries on peace and security—and women’s inclusion and justice—in homes, communities, and societies.

Jeni Klugman at the launch of the WPS Index at PRIO.

The New York discussion, held alongside the UN’s Commission on the Status of Women, touched on how the index and data more broadly can be used in advocacy efforts, challenges in collecting data in fragile or conflict contexts, and broader priorities for WPS action.

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This Week in South Sudan – Week 11

Tuesday 13 March Salvatore Garang Mabiordit, a former undersecretary in the finance ministry, has been appointed as the new Minister of Finance following President Salva Kiir’s dismissal of Stephen Dhieu Dau. Radio Tamazuj: “Profile: South Sudan’s new finance minister Salvatore Garang” At least 16 people were killed during inter-communal clashes in Jalwau, Warrap State, between… Read more »

The State of the Field in Climate and Security

This blog post was first posted on the Duck of Minerva. After nearly fifteen years of study, what do we know about the relationship between climate change and security? I recently attended a Woodrow Wilson Center event organized by the Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO) on the state of the field. Along with Geoff Dabelko,… Read more »

Science Meets Policy, Practice, and the Public

Last week, PRIO co-hosted a set of meetings for peers, policy, and the general public at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, DC. These events marked the end of Climate Anomalies and Violent Environments (CAVE), a three-year research project supported by the Research Council of Norway’s FRIPRO program. The project has contributed… Read more »