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Brussels, 13 November 2012
Commissioner Georgieva welcomes the European Union’s ratification of the new Food Assistance Convention
With a decision of the Council, today the European Union ratifies the new Food Assistance Convention. I welcome this news - together with the European Parliament's consent given on 25 October, this decision makes the EU a founding member of the Convention, an important international agreement on the fight against hunger and under-nutrition. This underlines the EU's continued commitment to address the food and nutrition needs of the most vulnerable.
By being among the first to ratify the Convention, the EU confirms Europe’s solidarity with almost 900 million people in the world suffering from food and nutrition insecurity. Under-nutrition in young children takes a heavy toll on their development, as well as on national economies. Among the 171 million children under five that are affected by stunting, there are 55 million who suffer from acute malnutrition and 20 million victims of severe acute malnutrition.
I call again on all parties - first and foremost the EU Member States - to ratify the Convention as quickly as possible and make their full contribution to the global efforts in the fight against hunger. I also call on other donors to subscribe to the principles of the Convention and join it as soon as it enters into force.
One of the most important achievements of the new Convention is a fundamental shift in the approach to food assistance. I very much appreciate that the Convention signatories agree to distribute food only when strictly necessary to meet the immediate nutritional needs of the most vulnerable people. Otherwise, aid should come in the form of money so that affected people can buy food locally. This upholds their dignity and helps promote local markets, benefitting local farming and food supply systems.
This is why the European Union’s humanitarian food assistance policy provides cash and vouchers to the most vulnerable, rather than in-kind aid such as food imported from afar. This helps communities rebuild their self-reliance more quickly after a disaster and creates conditions for reducing aid dependency in the future.
The Convention underlines the importance of linking short-term and longer-term food assistance interventions. This helps the most vulnerable to build up their resilience and be better prepared against the future negative impact of natural disasters or excessively high food prices.
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 assistance 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.
The agreement is based on humanitarian principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality and independence. It is also based firmly on needs, which is a crucial prerequisite to maximise the effectiveness and efficiency of the aid provided and thereby reduce the number of undernourished people in the word.
The Food Assistance Convention was signed by Commissioner Georgieva together with the Cyprus Presidency on behalf of the EU on 1 August 2012. The European Parliament gave its consent on the conclusion by the EU of the new Food Assistance Convention on 25 October 2012. So far, Japan, the US, Switzerland and Denmark have ratified the Convention. It means that by 30 November at least five of the signatories including the EU will have ratified the new Convention. Therefor it will enter into force on 1 January 2013.
For more information
Factsheet on the Humanitarian Food Assistance:
The European Commission's humanitarian aid on food assistance policy:
Website of the European Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response, Kristalina Georgieva:
The text of the new Food Assistance Convention: