Starvation as a Weapon of War in Syria

Starvation of civilians in besieged areas of Syria is being used as a method of warfare, which is explicitly prohibited in Article 54 of the Fourth Geneva Convention. On 3 December, the Dutch Parliament recognised this point and ordered the Dutch Government to take action to get this case investigated by the International Criminal Court (ICC). 

In this context, IKV Pax Christi Netherlands has issued a policy brief on Syria entitled "Starvation as a weapon", putting forward the following recommendations for the international community:

  • Urge UN Security Council members to support a resolution that explicitly condemns the use of starvation as a weapon, that confirms the rights of civilians to have access to humanitarian aid, and that opens all humanitarian corridors to allow access to the besieged civilian population.
  • If the UN Security Council fails to support such a resolution, ask the UN Secretary-General to assume responsibility for permitting UN agencies to provide cross-border help.
  • Take the initiative to call frequent, informative meetings about the starvation of Syrian civilians and other war crimes.
  • Request the International Criminal Court to start a preparatory study to examine intentional and planned starvation to determine whether there have been war crimes and who has committed them.
  • Use the diplomatic momentum to examine once again with Russia and Iran the prospects of an UN arms embargo on all parties in Syria.
  • Insist on Syria’s neighbouring countries, in particular EU accession country Turkey, to cut off the supply of weapons, fighters and money flowing to jihadist groups.
  • Continue and step up cooperation with Syria’s neighbouring countries in their efforts to provide adequate help to the increasing flow of refugees in the coming winter. Financial assistance will not be enough, and in particular the EU member states should enter into a dialogue with the host countries on how to assist in maintaining stability and preparing resettlement of the increasing number of refugees.
  • Continue strong condemnation of the use of internationally banned landmines and cluster munitions as well as the targeted use of explosive weapons on schools, hospitals and other populated areas.


Read the full policy brief here.