Journal of International and Global Studies


This paper argues for the codification of politically induced famine as a crime against humanity. We use the term “state sponsored famine” to reflect the conceptualization of famine as not merely nature-induced but also as a willfully orchestrated state policy. The specification of faminogenic practices as criminal would subject perpetrators to international jurisdiction and provide deterrence to future offenders. We review traditional conceptualizations of famine as a geophysical event. We explore Amartya Sen’s concept of famine as caused by the collapse of individual entitlement and market exchange dynamics; we also discuss commentary on Sen’s approach. Further, we analyze the limits of these frameworks in accounting for systemic socio-political processes orchestrated by states and/or individuals with authority that cause famine or contribute to its evolvement from a natural disaster into a manmade catastrophe. This paper adds to existing literature that challenges conventional thinking about famine as primarily being the result of natural disaster. There is limited literature in direct opposition to the criminalization of famine. However, arguments are also presented which point to legal and practical difficulties in criminalizing faminogenic practices.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share Alike 4.0 International License.