124 Arab and International CSOs Call on the UN to Expel the WFP Executive Director

APN | Amman

17 December 2023


On 28 November 2023, APN delivered a letter to the UN Secretary-General, Mr. António Guterres, through the UN Resident Coordinator in Jordan, Sherry Ritsima-Anderson, on behalf of 124 Arab and international civil society organizations working in the fields of agriculture, food security,  and environment and human rights. The letter demanded accountability and expulsion of the Executive Director of the World Food Programme, Cindy McCain, for her participation in the Halifax International Security Forum, held from 17 to 19 November 2023 in Canada. In her speech, she spoke on behalf of the WFP about the dialectical relationship between conflict and hunger. While providing numerous examples where food is used as a tool of subjugation, she notably omitted any mention of the 2 million Palestinians that are starving in Gaza at this very time due to the Israeli occupation’s weaponization of food.

With her presence, the Halifax Forum granted the annual John McCain Prize for Leadership in Public Service to the People of “Israel". The award was accepted by Achim Laneshek –  "Brothers in Arms", an organization dedicated to raising funds for the procurement and supply of equipment to colonist military and security forces, and settlers.

McCain’s practice is a dangerous breach to the fundamentals of humanitarian action including impartiality, independence, neutrality, and humanity. Moreover, McCain did not act in sensitivity to conflict contexts and abused her position as a representative of the international community in a political activity to support and promote specific governments, external groups, and political interests that are carrying out a genocidal war against millions of Palestinians.

Please note this is an open letter of concern and organizations are still signing the urgent appeal.

Please find the link to the letter and list of signatories here:


To ensure that our voices are acknowledged, and demands are addressed, we have submitted the appeal, along with the list of signatories, to the following channels:

The appeal was submitted in person to:

  1. Barbara Manzi, Regional Director for Arab States, United Nations (who delivered it directly to António Guterres, Secretary General of the United Nations)
  2. Alberto Correia Mendes, WFP Country Director in Jordan (who delivered it to Corinne Fleischer, Regional Director for the Middle East, North Africa, and Eastern Europe, WFP)
  3. The Office of the United Nations, Resident Coordinator in Jordan, Sheri Ritsema-Anderson (which delivered it to António Guterres, Secretary General of the United Nations)

The appeal has been submitted via electronic correspondence to:

  1. António Guterres, Secretary General of the United Nations
  2. Corinne Fleischer, Regional Director for the Middle East, North Africa, and Eastern Europe, WFP
  3. Qu Dongyu, Director General of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)
  4. Philippe Lazzarini, UNRWA Commissioner-General
  5. Deidre Walker, Director and Chief Ethics Officer, Ethics Office, WFP
  6. Elia Yi Armstrong, Chair, Ethics Office, United Nations Secretariat
  7. Members of the Ethics Panel of the United Nations

The UN Ethics Office acknowledged receipt of our appeal and affirmed that there has been follow-up by the Panel members as needed and appropriate within the scope of their mandate.

Since our appeal, it came to our knowledge that WFP has stopped aid to Northern Yemen and will cut all assistance to Syria by the end of 2023 on claims of “funding shortages”. The timing of these cuts can be seen as a form of collective punishment. Therefore, we, as members of the international community should demand clarity and transparency on:

  • Decision-making processes regarding budget allocation within WFP and across other UN agencies.
  • Mechanisms and criteria, both professional and ethical, for the selection of employees, particularly in senior roles.
  • Monitoring processes holding UN personnel accountable.