Yemeni boy eats Plumpynut, a peanut-based food used in famine relief


Mass Starvation: the history and future of famine

Hosted by the Firoz Lalji Centre for Africa

Hong Kong Theatre, Clement House, LSE, 99 Aldwych, London, WC2B 4JF


Alex de Waal

Alex de Waal

Executive Director, World Peace Foundation

Clare Short

Clare Short

Former UK Secretary of State for International Development


Professor Mary Kaldor CBE

Professor Mary Kaldor CBE

Director of the Conflict and Civil Society Research Unit

Alex De Waal, Executive Director of the World Peace Foundation and a Research Professor at The Fletcher School, will discuss why man-made famine and the political decisions that could end it for good must once again become a top priority for the international community.

The world almost conquered famine. Until the 1980s, this scourge killed ten million people every decade, but by early 2000s mass starvation had all but disappeared. Today, famines are resurgent, driven by war, blockade, hostility to humanitarian principles and a volatile global economy.

In Mass Starvation, world-renowned expert on humanitarian crisis and response Alex de Waal provides an authoritative history of modern famines: their causes, dimensions and why they ended. He analyses starvation as a crime, and breaks new ground in examining forced starvation as an instrument of genocide and war. Refuting the enduring but erroneous view that attributes famine to overpopulation and natural disaster, he shows how political decision or political failing is an essential element in every famine, while the spread of democracy and human rights, and the ending of wars, were major factors in the near-ending of this devastating phenomenon.

Alex de Waal is Executive Director of the World Peace Foundation and a Research Professor at The Fletcher School. Considered one of the foremost experts on Sudan and the Horn of Africa, his scholarship and practice has also probed humanitarian crisis and response, human rights, HIV/AIDS and governance in Africa, and conflict and peacebuilding. 

Clare Short is the Former UK Secretary of State for International Development.

Professor Mary Kaldor is the Director of the Conflict and Civil Society Research Unit.

Based at LSE, the Firoz Lalji Centre for Africa promotes independent academic research and teaching; open and issue-oriented debate; and evidence-based policy making. The Centre accomplishes this by connecting different social science disciplines and by working in partnership with Africa bringing African voices to the global debate.

Twitter hashtag for the event: #LSEfamine

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