Food security’s role at the heart of international unity has been confirmed, with the Nobel Peace Prize awarded to the United Nations’ World Food Programme.
In awarding the prize, the Nobel Committee quoted the World Food Programme’s own phrase, “Food is the best vaccine against chaos.”
The committee said its choice was designed to expose the world to the millions who suffer from hunger or its threat. And to highlight the role of food security as an instrument of peace.
WFP executive director David Beasley said, “Today is a reminder that food security, peace and stability go together. Without peace, we cannot achieve our global goal of zero hunger; and while there is hunger, we will never have a peaceful world.”
690 million people are hungry today, including almost 100 million children, he said, adding, “Climate shocks and economic pressures have further compounded their plight. And now, a global pandemic with its brutal impact on economies and communities, is pushing millions more to the brink of starvation.”
“We believe food is the pathway to peace”
In his acceptance speech David Beasley underlined the point again, saying, “We believe food is the pathway to peace… This Nobel Peace Prize is more than a thank you. It is a call to action…
“Let me tell you why what we do at the World Food Programme works.
“First, food is sacred. Anyone who has sat down to a Thanksgiving or a holiday meal, or taken communion, attended a Seder, fasted for Ramadan or made a food offering at a Buddhist temple knows that.
“And every human, whether they are people of faith or not, knows the power of food not only to sustain us, but bring us together in our common humanity.
“Here’s the second reason the World Food Programme works: because what the 19,000 of us are doing is an act of love.”
The Norwegian Nobel Committee explained that the WFP helped mobilise UN Member States to combat the use of hunger as a weapon of war and conflict.
It said, “The organisation contributes daily to advancing the fraternity of nations referred to in Alfred Nobel’s will. As the UN’s largest specialised agency, the World Food Programme is a modern version of the peace congresses that the Nobel Peace Prize is intended to promote.”
The committee said the world is in danger of experiencing a hunger crisis of inconceivable proportions if the World Food Programme and other food assistance organisations do not receive the financial support they have requested.
Using food security to improve prospects for stability and peace, the World Food Programme has taken the lead in combining humanitarian work with peace efforts through pioneering projects in South America, Africa and Asia.
The link between hunger and armed conflict is a vicious circle: war and conflict can cause food insecurity and hunger, just as hunger and food insecurity can cause latent conflicts to flare up and trigger the use of violence.
The committee said, “We will never achieve the goal of zero hunger unless we also put an end to war and armed conflict.”