Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law

First Page



"The profound promise of our era is that for the first time we may have the technical capacity to free mankind from the scourge of hunger. Therefore, today we must proclaim a bold objective--that within a decade no child will go to bed hungry, that no family will fear for its next day's bread, and that no human being's future and capacities will be stunted by malnutrition."

One decade later, the ongoing drought and famine in Ethiopia, Chad, Mozambique and other African countries cruelly portray the failure of that promise. Each year, millions of dollars worth of aid, much of it in the form of food, funnels through the international relief system--a network of individuals, corporations, voluntary organizations, governments, and intergovernmental organizations, which disburses relief throughout the world. During the past year, the United States alone has supplied more than 1.5 million tons of agricultural commodities, approximately one-half of the total amount of food given to Africa.

For those facing starvation, the provision of food meets an immediate need. But the donation of emergency aid without considering long-term food production requirements of the recipient nation is often an inappropriate response. Starvation in Africa is attributable to conditions that are both natural and man-made, deeply rooted and complex; emergency assistance alone will not remedy a disaster such as this one, engendered not only by drought but by politics and civil strife. To combat the results of such conditions, donors should supplement emergency relief with long-term development assistance.