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close this bookSCN News, Number 24 - Nutrition in the Context of Conflict and Crisis (UNSSCN, 2002, 99 p.)
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentStanding Committee on Nutrition
View the documentChairman's Round-up
View the documentAdvocacy in Practice
View the documentSymposium: Nutrition in the Context of Conflict and Crisis
View the document29th Session, SCN Working Groups
View the documentProgramme News
View the documentNutrition in Emergencies
View the documentSpeakers'Corner
View the documentPublications
View the documentBulletin Board
View the documentStop Press!
View the documentThe 7th Dr Abraham Horwitz Lecture
View the documentStatement by the SCN at its 29th Session
View the documentPublications - July 2002

Standing Committee on Nutrition

United Nations System

In 1977, following the World Food Conference (with particular reference to Resolution V on food and nutrition) the Administrative Committee on Coordination (ACC), comprised of the heads of the UN Agencies, recommended the establishment of the Sub-Committee on Nutrition. This was approved by the Economic and Social Council of the UN (ECOSOC). Following the reform of the ACC in 2001, the ACC/SCN was renamed the United Nations System Standing Committee on Nutrition or simply the SCN. The SCN reports to the Chief Executives Board of the UN, the successor of the ACC. The UN members of the SCN are ECA, FAO, IAEA, IFAD, ILO, UN, UNAIDS, UNDP, UNEP, UNESCO, UNFPA, UNHCHR, UNHCR, UNICEF, UNRISD, UNU, WFP, WHO and the World Bank. IFPRI and the ADB are also members. From the outset, representatives of bilateral donor agencies have participated actively in SCN activities as do non governmental organizations. The SCN Secretariat is hosted by WHO in Geneva.

The mandate of the SCN is to serve as the UN focal point for promoting harmonized nutrition policies and strategies throughout the UN system, and to strengthen collaboration with other partners for accelerated and more effective action against malnutrition. The aim of the SCN is to raise awareness of and concern for nutrition problems at global, regional and national levels; to refine the direction, increase the scale and strengthen the coherence and impact of actions against malnutrition worldwide; and to promote cooperation among UN agencies and partner organizations. The SCN’s annual meetings have representation from UN Agencies, donor agencies and NGOs; these meetings begin with symposia subjects of current importance for policy. The SCN brings such matters to the attention of the UN Secretary General and convenes working groups on specialized areas of nutrition. Initiatives are taken to promote coordinated activities inter-agency programmes, meetings, publications - aimed at reducing malnutrition, reflecting the shared views of the agencies concerned. Regular reports on the world nutrition situation are issued. Nutrition Policy Papers are produced to summarize current knowledge on selected topics. SCN News is published twice a year, and the RNIS is published quarterly. As decided by the Standing Committee, initiatives are taken to promote coordinated activities-interagency programmes, meetings, publications-aimed at reducing malnutrition, primarily in developing countries.

This issue of SCN NEWS was edited by Andrea D Moreira, MPS ID
Sonya Rabeneck, PhD is Editor-in-Chief
Cover illustration by Stefan Boness

SCN NEWS is issued in July and December each year by the United Nations System Standing Committee on Nutrition (SCN). Your contributions to future issues are most welcome. SCN NEWS aims to help the sharing of experience in nutrition. If you wish to receive additional copies of SCN NEWS, or would like to suggest other names to be added to our distribution list, please write to us or visit our website at:

Chairman: A. Namanga Ngongi

Technical Secretary:Sonya Rabeneck

Special Representative of the UN Secretary General to

SCN c/o World Health Organization

the Democratic Republic of the Congo, MONUC Headquarters

20 Avenue Appia

P O Box 4653, Grand Central Station

CH-1211 Geneva 27

New York, N.Y. 10163-4653 USA


Telephone: 243 880 5831, Fax: 41-22 798 88 91

Telephone: 41-22 791 04 56, Fax: 41-22 798 88 91



SCN NEWS provides information on issues of importance in the field of international nutrition. All manuscripts submitted for consideration are peer-reviewed, although publication is not guaranteed. Overall editorial control is retained by the SCN Secretariat. Every effort is made to ascertain the validity of the information contained in SCN publications. Contributing authors are responsible for the accuracy of references. Manuscript guidelines are available. Items published by the SCN Secretariat do not imply endorsement of views given, nor necessarily the official positions taken by the SCN and its member agencies. The status of quotes and other material is generally indicated in the text and/or sources.

Readers are encouraged to review, abstract, reproduce or translate this document in part or in whole - but please attribute to the SCN

We gratefully acknowledge funding assistance from the German Foundation for International Development (DSE)/Centre for Food, Rural Development and the Environment (ZEL), the Deutsche Gesellschaft fhnische Zusammenarbeit (GTZ), the Government of the Nether lands and USAID* for the preparation and printing of this issue of SCN News

* The distribution of the publication was made possible in part through the support provided to the Food and Nutrition Technical Assistance (FANTA) Project by the Office of Programs, Polices and Man agement of the Bureau for Humanitarian Response at the U.S. Agency for International Development, under the terms of Cooperative Agreement No. HRN-A-00-98-00046-00 awarded to the Academy for Educational Development (AED). The opinions expressed herein are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Agency for International Development.


Abraham Besrat

Abraham Besrat died on April 4 at his home in Addis Ababa after a brief illness. Africa and the entire nutrition community has lost one of its most effective advocates. Abraham was wise and honest; he was a gentle person and a fine professional.

Abraham obtained his first degree in agriculture at the Imperial Ethiopian Agricultural and Mechanical Arts College in Addis. He did his MSc at Oklahoma State University; his thesis was on the biological value of Ethiopia's main crop tef. After completing a PhD at the University of Minnesota he returned to Ethiopia in 1961, where for 15 years he taught biochemistry at Addis Ababa University. He rose through the academic ranks to become Dean of Agriculture, Associate Dean of Research and then founding Dean of the School of Graduate Studies. Abraham's first contact with the SCN was in 1981 when he presented a paper at a workshop on nutrition and agriculture at Castelgandolfo, Italy. He was a true friend and supporter of the aims of the SCN, and the work programme of the Secretariat, over many years.

From 1982-1983 Abraham was a UNU Senior Fellow at the International Food and Nutrition Program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Because the political situation in Ethiopia had changed, it became difficult for Abraham to return to his country, so he took a position at FAO in Rome. He was highly regarded in the corridors of FAO, and much admired for in-depth knowledge of the linkages between nutrition and agriculture as well as his patience and good humour. Abraham then moved to a UNU position in Tokyo. This provided the opportunity for the family to be together, after many year of separation due to the political situation in Ethiopia. The Besrat family prospered in Tokyo and learned fluent Japanese, "except for me" Abraham would say with a smile, "after twelve years, I can manage a courageous few words."

When Abraham retired from the UNU he continued to represent the UNU Rector, while reestablishing his home in Addis. Abraham played an important role in both the Nairobi and Berlin annual sessions. It was indeed a great pleasure and privilege to welcome him back to the SCN forum. In Berlin in March, Abraham spoke enthusiastically about his plans to move to a new office in Addis, expand his crop breeding work and move the capacity building agenda steadfastly forward in Africa. The news of his death just a few weeks later was so unexpected. The SCN Secretariat extends sincerest sympathy to his wife, Tsehai, and their two children.