Press Conference by Security Council President on Programme of Work for August

Addressing conflict-induced famine and food insecurity will be the top priority of the Security Council in August, its President for the month told reporters at a Headquarters press conference today.

Linda Thomas-Greenfield (United States) — whose country holds the 15-nation organ’s rotating presidency for August — said that the drivers of the global food and hunger crisis are complex.  “But we know this for sure:  where there is conflict, there is hunger,” she stressed.

On 3 August, United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken will chair a high-level open debate on famine and conflict-induced global food insecurity, she noted.  The Council will look at ways the United Nations, Member States, civil society and the private sector can strengthen, coordinate and evaluate food security initiatives and eliminate famine.  “Food should never be used as a weapon of war, and I urge all Member States to stand with us in combating food insecurity by signing our draft communique,” she said.

The second focus of the Council in August will be the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms around the world, she continued. “As we approach the seventy-fifth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, we will integrate human rights into this month’s Council agenda,” she said, adding that it is vital to present various civil society voices to the Council.

She also said that the United States will continue to highlight the devastating consequences of the Russian Federation’s unprovoked full-scale invasion of Ukraine, including in a meeting on 24 August discussing the protection of civilians, including children.  “We will not hesitate to call additional meetings on Russia’s war of aggression,” she emphasized.  She also noted the Council’s plan to hold three meetings on Syria, including on chemical weapons (8 August), the political situation (23 August) and the humanitarian situation (29 August).

Reiterating the critical need to address famine and food insecurity, she said to do so, the United Nations must root out conflict-induced food insecurity around the world.  Hostilities breed hunger and fighting breeds famine, she pointed out, noting:  “We see this in places like Yemen and Sudan and Syria and elsewhere, and of course, in Ukraine, where President Putin’s forces have weaponized food.”

The Russian Federation has launched a full-scale assault on the world’s breadbasket, and it is “dead set” on depriving the world of Ukraine’s grains, she stressed.  That is why Moscow unilaterally withdrew from the Black Sea Grain Initiative, and it is why it has “mercilessly” attacked the Odesa region and other ports in Ukraine.  Conflict-induced hunger is a pressing matter of international peace and security, and the Council must act.

Responding to several questions from correspondents on Niger, she said that the United States supported efforts by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in finding a path that will lead to the country’s democratically elected president to reassume authority.  “We, ourselves, have called on the military to stand down and allow President [Mohamed] Bazoum to assume his office,” she reported.

Expressing concern that Burkina Faso, Mali and Guinea are countries in the region that are currently under the control of Governments that were not democratically elected, she added:  “They have situations inside their countries that are particularly dire from the security standpoint.”  As President of the Council for August, she added that the United States remains open to holding an open meeting on Niger.

When asked about Haiti, she said the United States welcomes Kenya’s decision to lead a multinational force to the Caribbean country.  “We will be working on a resolution to support that effort,” she said, recalling that the Government of Haiti has asked for this support.  The resolution will give Kenya the guidance it needs to establish presence on the ground. “This is not a traditional peacekeeping force,” she said, pointing out that Haiti is not a traditional security situation.  Gangs have taken over the country and are terrorizing civilians.  This is very much a police action meant to stabilize Haiti so that it can get back to a political process.

Asked about food cooperation and any updates on the status of the Black Sea Grain Initiative, she noted that the Secretary-General is continuing his efforts to find a path forward “to bring the Russians back into the deal”.  In that regard, the Russian Federation knows that if it wants to get its fertilizer out to market, then it is going to have to return to the Initiative.

Addressing questions on Syria and the delivery of humanitarian aid, she said the penholders have not given up hope on passing a resolution that will allow for food to continue to cross into the border at Bab Al-Hawa.  The Russian Federation vetoed a resolution that would have allowed for an extension of a deal for 12 months.  She underlined the importance of a resolution that will provide transparency and allow the United Nations to engage with any party on the other side of the border.  “Russia is holding this resolution, they’re holding the Syrian people hostage, and they know that they are not the ones who are providing humanitarian assistance,” she said.

Turning to questions regarding what action the Council will take to address access to education for girls in Afghanistan, she said the United States believes that Afghan girls should be allowed to return to school and that Afghan women must return to work.  The United States does not recognize the Taliban and has not given them any support because of their decision to ban girls from school.  Afghanistan will be at the top of the list when the Council discusses human rights.

Responding to a question on Iranian unmanned aerial vehicles, she said that the use of Iranian unmanned aerial vehicles is a violation of Security Council resolution 2231 (2015).  The United States has asked the United Nations for an investigation, particularly as it relates to the use of unmanned aerial vehicles in Ukraine by the Russian Federation.  Anyplace else where unmanned aerial vehicles from Iran are being used should be condemned and be part of an investigation.

When asked if she expected blowback from Council members who say discussions on human rights belong in other forums and not in the Council, she stressed that human rights are about peace and security.  She voiced her strong support for human rights being on the Council’s agenda and noted that she disagrees with colleagues who suggest otherwise.  The United States will continue to promote voices of civil society, human rights organizations and victims of violations in the Council, she added.

For the full programme of work, please see:

For information media. Not an official record.