The Straits Times says

An award that gives food for thought

The award of this year's Nobel Peace Prize to the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) rightly recognises its efforts to combat world hunger. The organisation was recognised for its efforts in feeding millions from Yemen to North Korea, with the coronavirus pandemic seen to be pushing millions more into hunger. The WFP was honoured for "acting as a driving force in efforts to prevent the use of hunger as a weapon of war and conflict", the Nobel committee said. In making a fundamental connection between food and conflict, the award provides an apposite reminder of the state of the world, when resource wars between and within states represent both a humanitarian crisis and a possible structural reconfiguration of international relations.

Clearly, there can be no peace without equitable access to food and water, which are resources that can lead to war or civil war. The prediction made in the closing years of the last century - that the wars of this century will be about water - has not come to pass yet, but sub-national conflicts over this essential resource do occur and could spill across borders. Likewise, food shortages and price hikes were identified as an immediately antecedent factor in the French and Russian revolutions that transformed global affairs violently. Closer to these times, scholars have pointed to the overlap between massive global food price spikes and the Arab Spring uprisings a decade ago. Such developments impinge on the global security system.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 15, 2020, with the headline 'An award that gives food for thought'. Print Edition | Subscribe