War in Ukraine Causing a Global Food Crisis

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

By Isana Raja

The war in Ukraine has caused more than just a rise in gas prices—it’s actively contributing to a global food shortage. Ukraine and Russia account for a crucial portion of the world’s wheat, barley, corn, and sunflower oil exports; by some measures up to 12% of global caloric trade. Sanctions against Russia combined with Ukraine’s inability to export during the war has meant that large supplies of food have become trapped in supply chain limbo. 

For countries across the Middle East and Africa, which are highly dependent on wheat imports from Ukraine and Russia, famine and starvation are imminent. Eleven countries, including Armenia, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, and Eritrea import 70% of their wheat from Ukraine and Russia; Thirty equatorial and Global South countries import 30% or greater, while the region of East Africa imports 90%. This comes as these countries are already facing food insecurity and famine from the pandemic, droughts, and ongoing conflict. 

Sanctions placed on Russian fertilizer are further compounding the crisis. Russia exports around 17% of the global fertilizer supply. As a result, many farmers in countries such as Mongolia and Serbia—who import more than 50% of their fertilizer from Russia—are unable to yield sufficient crops and livestock. 

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations estimates that the number of hungry people across the world could balloon to between 8 million and 13 million as a result of the war in Ukraine. Those dependent on humanitarian aid, such as the people of Yemen and Afghanistan, will be hit the hardest. Additionally, the World Food Program has resorted to cutting daily rations for 3.8 million people in order to provide a degree of assistance to as many people as possible—essentially “taking food from the hungry to give to the starving.

Burkina Faso Coup d’État Sparks Political Crisis

Photo Credit: CIF Action

By Clarissa Monet Brown
Contributing Writer

The West African nation of Burkina Faso is currently facing political instability after a successful military coup ousted President Roch Kaboré on Sunday, January 23. After months of political unrest resulting from widespread dissatisfaction with President Kaboré’s efforts to quell a surge of Islamist militant attacks, the nation fell into an active gun battle that lasted until early Tuesday. The militant group, led by Lt. Col. Paul-Henri Sandaogo Dambila, demanded the president put an end to military losses and attacks by al-Qaeda and other Islamic State groups. President Kaboré has been detained by the Patriotic Movement for Safeguarding and Restoration and has supposedly submitted his resignation as the leader of Burkina Faso.

This is the latest coup in a string of military uprisings across West Africa in recent months, and has heightened the alarming concern over democratic stability in the region. Many international organizations including the United Nations have denounced the coup, with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres reiterating the United Nations’ “…full commitment to the preservation of the constitutional order” in Burkina Faso. The U.S. State Department issued a statement condemning the coup and calling for the reinstatement of President Kaboré. Burkina Faso seemingly has the full support of the United Nations and its member states, but there remains considerable uncertainty and confusion as the country faces yet another challenge to its democratic development. This week’s coup in Burkina Faso is the latest challenge to a region, and a continent, where democracy continues to struggle to gain traction and stability amid widespread political unrest.

Op-Ed: Reform of the United Nations Security Council: Problems and Proposed Solutions

Photo Credit: Boston Public Library

By Nicholas Tappin
Contributing Writer 

At the end of World War II, 50 nations signed the first United Nations charter. Thus, a new international body was established with the aims to serve as a mediator between multiple warring nations, advocate for global expansion of human rights, and to oversee the end of the vices that plagued humankind ranging from extreme hunger, poverty, and national militarism. However, in the span of 70 years, it has become apparent that the United Nations Security Council —the main body that possesses truly executive and substantive power regarding decision-making — is dysfunctional in its established purpose of protecting human rights and finding reconciliatory solutions to regional conflicts. 

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