Is the Famine in Somalia a Crime against Humanity?
I see the famine itself as a terrible situation brought on by "natural disaster" (there is an environmental argument that says humanity is to blame for all severe weather, etc.) and from there further amplified by human actions. Is the famine itself a crime against humanity, or indeed a crime? By definition, no - a state of being cannot be a crime.
The actions of the al-Shabab terrorist organisation and all who oppose foreign aid and otherwise act to prolong and exasperate the situation, however, can and should be considered crimes. Looking at the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, I see three possible options for their crimes: genocide, extermination, or "other inhumane acts of a similar character ...". Which one of the three is the most appropriate charge depends on the motives the al-Shabab have for their actions.
Genocide (Article 6) is based on the intent to destroy a "national, ethnical, racial or religious group" through inhumane actions. If the al-Shabab are exasperating the famine because they see it as a way to eliminate a certain group of people, then it would be genocide.
Extermination (Article 7, 1(b) and 2(b)) "includes the intentional infliction of conditions of life" designed to destroy part of a population. Similar to genocide, this criminal action has the intent of eliminating a group of people; unlike genocide, extermination does not require the motivation to be based upon certain descriptive factors of the group. If the al-Shabab seek to use the famine to bring about the death of a section of the population but not based on particular factors (like genocide), then it would be extermination.
"Other inhumane acts of a similar character ..." (Article 7, 1(k)) is a catch-all clause for crimes against humanity, as it encapsulates other intentional crimes of equal magnitude causing suffering or harm without dictating potential motives. In this case, the al-Shabab would have to have known the consequences of their actions upon the civilian population and still acted they way they did.
Of the three options I see here, genocide is the crime I would charge the al-Shabab with. The devastation and harm they have caused is widely accepted, leaving their reasoning to be questioned. Based on what I have read about them in The Globe and Mail, they are an extremist religious terrorist organisation, with what appear to be quasi-religious motivations. Before any charges could be laid at all, it would be imperative the exact motivations of the al-Shabab be understood and their comprehension of the humanitarian disaster they are causing be confirmed. While this slows the entire justice process down, it is necessary to maintain legitimacy and authority for the international justice community.