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The question of political responsibility for famine, and possibly criminal culpability for the perpetration of starvation, is highly relevant in the Horn of Africa. Recent famines in Somalia and South Sudan, and the fear of large-scale hunger in Ethiopia and Sudan, have revived old debates on how humanitarian actors should deal with man-made famine. This talk will address ongoing initiatives to criminalize the infliction of famine, including UN Security Council resolution 2417 (May 2018) on armed conflict and hunger, and the findings of international investigations into war crimes, and their implications for humanitarian response and political engagement in the Horn of Africa.
Africa Speaker Series
Center for Human Rights and Humanitarian Studies
Alex de Waal is executive director of the World Peace Foundation and a research professor at The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy. Considered one of the foremost experts on Sudan and the Horn of Africa, his scholarship and practice has also probed humanitarian crisis and response, human rights, HIV/AIDS and governance in Africa, and conflict and peacebuilding.
Professor de Waal received a D.Phil. from Oxford for his thesis on the 1984-1985 Darfur famine in Sudan. He worked for several Africa-focused human rights organizations, focusing on the Horn of Africa, and especially on avenues to peaceful resolution of the second Sudanese Civil War. He also researched the intersection of HIV/AIDS, poverty and governance, and initiated the Commission on HIV/AIDS and Governance in Africa. De Waal was a fellow at the Global Equity Initiative at Harvard (2004-2006), and program director at the Social Science Research Council. He was a member of the African Union mediation team for Darfur (2005-2006) and senior adviser to the African Union High-Level Implementation Panel for Sudan (2009-2012). He was on the list of Foreign Policy’s 100 most influential public intellectuals in 2008 and Atlantic Monthly’s 27 “brave thinkers” in 2009.