Rhoda E. Howard-Hassmann "From the Holodomor to the Present: State Food Crimes and Possible Remedies"


21 October 2016

Governments sometimes introduce policies that cause malnutrition or starvation among their citizens or others for whom they are responsible. This lecture will start with a discussion of the Holodomor (state-induced famine in Ukraine) and other historical cases. It will then proceed to some contemporary cases, including state-induced famine in North Korea, government policies causing malnutrition in Zimbabwe and Venezuela, and the complex causes of malnutrition in the West Bank and Gaza.

The lecture will continue with an analysis of how contemporary international law and policies such as sanctions and foreign aid might be used to stop the kind of state-induced famine that occurred in Soviet Ukraine in the 1930s. Unfortunately, these laws and policies are far from efficacious.  Only domestic civil and political rights assure real protection against state-induced famine and malnutrition. These rights include not only freedom of speech and press and the right to vote, but also citizenship rights, mobility rights, the right to own property and the right to work, all well illustrated by the Ukrainian case.

Rhoda Howard-Hassmann retired in 2016 after thirteen years as Canada Research Chair in International Human Rights at Wilfrid Laurier University. Previously she spent twenty-seven years as a professor at McMaster University. She has taught courses on comparative genocide studies, consistently including the Ukrainian famine of 1932–33. Since 1993 she has been a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada: she has also won several academic awards for her work on human rights. Her lecture will be drawn from her most recent book, State Food Crimes (Cambridge University Press).