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Brussels, 1 August 2012
Statement by EU Commissioner Kristalina Georgieva on the signature of the new Food Assistance Convention
Today the EU Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response, Kristalina Georgieva, signed the new Food Assistance Convention on behalf of the European Union. On this occasion, the Commissioner made the following statement:
"Close to a billion men, women and children will go to bed hungry tonight due to extreme poverty, the devastating impact of climate change and natural disasters. This year alone, huge hunger crises have devastated the Sahel, Yemen, South Sudan and the Horn of Africa, and drought in the US is likely to drive global food prices higher, deepening food insecurity for the world's most vulnerable people. For thousands of them this would mean premature death - with children under the age of five at highest risk.
We Europeans could not stand idly by while people are suffering.
This is why we are working hard to improve the way we manage EU food and nutrition assistance. For instance, we favour a wider use of cash and vouchers, rather than in-kind aid such as food imported from far away. This not only helps the hungry, but also supports the local farmers and creates the conditions for reducing aid dependency in the future.
We are also working hard to convince other big donors and implementing agencies to modernise the international instruments for food aid. This is why we played a very active role in the negotiations for the new Food Assistance Convention, during which we sought to promote a modern, needs-based approach to food assistance.
The aim of the new Convention is to focus on the most vulnerable populations in an efficient and effective way using a bigger toolbox that now includes cash, nutrition, protection of livelihoods in emergency and recovery situations.
The European Union's help is generous and makes a difference – but we also want to make sure that it is adequate to the realities on the ground and accountable to our taxpayers. This is why we made sure that the Convention explicitly notes the importance of accountability and calls on donors to “monitor, evaluate and communicate, on a transparent basis,” on the outcomes of their food assistance activities.
The new Food Assistance Convention, which reflects well the humanitarian principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality and independence, is an important commitment for all food assistance donors to maximise the effectiveness and efficiency and reduce the number of undernourished people in the word. I call on all parties to ratify the Convention as quickly as possible, so it can make its full contribution to our fight against hunger".
The Food Assistance Convention is an international agreement that has been negotiated by the European Union and 35 countries (all EU Member States plus Argentina, Australia, Canada, Croatia, Japan, Norway, Switzerland and the United States).
Its predecessor, the Food Aid Convention, was first negotiated in 1967 and regularly updated since then. The Convention defines global rules for food aid by major donors: it requires members to provide a minimum amount of food assistance, demonstrating an important commitment among donor states to address world hunger.
To complete the ratification of the new Food Assistance Convention after the signature by Commissioner Georgieva and the Cyprus Presidency, the consent of the European Parliament is required. It is expected that the Parliament's consent will be formally given in November 2012 at the latest, so that the EU can deposit the instrument of ratification by 30 November 2012. If by that date five of the signatories have ratified the new Convention, it will enter into force on 1 January 2013.
For more information
Factsheet on the Humanitarian Food Assistance:
The European Commission's humanitarian aid:
Website of the European Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response, Kristalina Georgieva: