Nobel Peace Prize laureate Adolfo Pérez Esquivel joins FAO efforts to fight hunger

The Argentinian activist joins other Nobel awardees in the Alliance for Food Security and Peace

6 June 2018, Rome - "Hunger is a crime which we must overcome. Humanity is in a position to do it, but doesn't due to political and economic interests." With this blunt message, Adolfo Pérez Esquivel, today became a new member of the FAO's Nobel Peace Laureates Alliance for Food Security and Peace .

"Peace is not only the absence of conflict  ... it has to do with everything: with nutrition, with education, and with health, in a holistic way. It is from there that we have to build a new society. We must reflect on how to create a fairer and more humane society for all," Pérez Esquivel said.

He made the remarks to representatives of FAO's member countries gathered in Rome for this week's meeting of the UN agency's executive, the Council.

Pérez Esquivel, an activist and Argentinian artist awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1980 for his harsh criticism of Argentina's then military dictatorship, joins a group of six other Nobel Peace Prize laureates who collaborate with FAO to raise awareness on the close relationship between violence and food insecurity. Their aim is also to urge governments to resolve conflicts to help  eradicate  hunger.

"The Nobel prize winners have to be at the service of the people and this alliance with FAO is fundamental," said Pérez Esquivel. In human beings "the most needy require the support and solidarity of the rest," he added.

The Alliance includes former Costa Rican president Oscar Arias Sánchez, women's rights promoter Tawakkol Karman, advocate against inter-religious violence Betty Williams, micro-credit creator Muhammad Yunus, former Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos, and the former president of South Africa, Frederik Willem de Klerk.

Direct linkage between hunger and conflict

"We do not lack any evidence: if conflict increases, hunger increases. The relationship is direct," FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva said welcoming Pérez Esquivel to the Alliance. Graziano da Silva stressed the role of wars and conflict as drivers of hunger in the world, and lamented how  global military spending continues to increase while countries allocate scarce resources to fight against hunger.

Recent figures show that after almost a decade of decline, the number of people affected by hunger in the world has started to increase, with 815 million chronically undernourished in 2016. In 2017, some 124 million required life and livelihoods saving support to avoid the risk of drifting in a famine situation compared with 108 million in 2016.

In his remarks Graziano da Silva cited the recent Global Peace Index 2018 report which indicates that over the last four years conflicts have increased around the world.

Since 2016, FAO, together with the World Food Programme (WFP), regularly submit biannual reports to the UN Security Council on food security in the countries it officially oversees.

Photo: ©FAO/Alessandra Benedetti
FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva with Nobel Peace Prize laureate Adolfo Pérez Esquivel.