Following rising food prices violent ‘food riots’ took place in about 40 countries around the globe in 2007-2008. These developments have led to renewed interest among both scholars and policymakers in the role of food insecurity and foodprice related grievances as catalysts for conflict.This report, which is based on a desk review of current literature, discusses the relationship between failing food security and social unrest. It also provides a summary of developments related to global and local food security that have made the issue increasingly relevant and important.

A growing body of research makes both direct and indirect links between food insecurity and conflict. Based on the review of literature as well as analysis of case material from the Middle East (Arab Spring) and Sahel (Sudan), one important conclusion to be drawn is that civil conflict is rarely grounded in single grievances or simple causes but commonly represents the accumulation of a complex set of interrelated factors.