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Red Cross and Red Crescent voluntary service in today's world

31-12-1986 Article, International Review of the Red Cross, No. 256

25th International Conference of the Red Cross, Geneva, 23 to 31 October 1986, Resolution 23

The Twenty-fifth International Conference of the Red Cross,

 recalling that the humanitarian work of the International Red Cros and Red Crescent Movement is in the main based on voluntary service, on of the Fundamental Principles of the Movement,

 recalling that the new needs resulting from the rapid development o today's society and its socioeconomic implications call for the establish ment of new community-based services,

 emphasizing the increasingly important role played by volunteers in providing these services,

 aware of the fact that, more than ever, National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies are confronted with emergency situations and must be able to rely on an ever larger number of volunteers capable of coping with the consequences of conflicts, natural disasters or the flow of refugees,

 taking into account the growing number of humanitarian aid agencies and groups,

 1. reaffirms Resolutions XIX and XXIII of the Twenty-fourth International Conference of the Red Cross regarding the role and involvement of volunteers,

 2. takes note of the conclusions of the First World Meeting on Red Cross Voluntary Service (Mexico, 1983),

 3. expresses its gratitude to the Secretariat of the League of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and the Henry Dunant Institute for their excellent report drawn up in consultation with the International Committee of the Red Cross,

 4. thanks the Henry Dunant Institute for its constructive study on Red  Cross Voluntary Service in Today's Society,  

 5. invites members of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement to continue being extremely attentive to the status, rights and duties of volunteers, their motivation, their recruitment, their training, the integration and participation of volunteers in all phases of planning and implementation of activities, relations between volunteers and remunerated professionals, and finally the relations of volunteers with the other voluntary agencies,

 6. recommends to National Societies, on the basis of the conclusions and recommendations of the First World Meeting on Red Cross Voluntary Service, and of the Henry Dunant Institute study:

a) to define-already in peacetime and in agreement with the competent authorities or organizations of their respective countries- the arrangements for co-operation, in the event of armed conflict, of voluntary medical personnel with the medical services of the armed forces, in compliance with Articles 24 and 26 of the First Geneva Convention, and with the civil defence services and other health institutions,

b) to define, already in peacetime in agreement with government health services, the contribution which volunteers, be they on the same footing as military medical personnel or not, can make to tasks not specifically stipulated in Article 24 of the First Convention,

c) to define with government and regional authorities the contribution which their volunteers should make in the event of natural disasters, in the context of national relief plans,

d) to facilitate making qualified personnel available for urgent international humanitarian missions,

e) to promulgate, if they do not already hav e one, a national charter for volunteers specifying their rights and duties,

f) to take all suitable measures to ensure that volunteers and those they assist are protected both in their normal activities and in emergency situations,

g) to lay down practical guidelines for the recruitment of volunteers, taking into account their qualifications and their aspirations, and also the needs to be met,

h) to ensure that volunteers receive basic training on the Fundamental Principles of the Movement and specific training adapted to the various tasks they may be called on to undertake; this applies in particular to medical personnel likely to be made available to the medical services of the armed forces,

i) to encourage the participation of volunteers in the planning of programmes of activities and in their evaluation,

j) to provide for a plan for the personal development of volunteers enabling them to improve their knowledge and have access to greater responsibilities,

k) to review regularly their international structures at national, regional and local levels in order to adapt them to needs and activities, to ensure the best possible use of human resources, to reinforce the motivation of volunteers and develop their sense of responsibility,

1) to set up and develop multidisciplinary teams with a view to integrated activities,

m) to co-operate with voluntary agencies and groups and co-ordinate their activities, notably with respect to the identification of needs, the recruitment and training of volunteers, and the dissemination of humanitarian ideals in strict compliance with the Fundamental Principles of the Movement,

 7. recommends to the League of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies:

a) that it support National Societies which ask for help in drawing up guidelines for their policy on volunteers,

b) that it continue co-operation with governmental and non-governmental organizations concerned with voluntary service or other subjects in which National Societies play an active role, particularly through their volunteers,

 8. recommends to the International Committee of the Red Cross:

a) that it contribute to the supplementary training of volunteers with a view to their activities in case of conflict or similar situations,

b) that it assist National Societies requesting such assistance in defining with the competent authorities the arrangements for co-operation by voluntary medical personnel in case of armed conflict,

 9. recommends to governments that they support National Society efforts to develop their voluntary services, particularly in emergency situations,

 10. recommends to the Henry Dunant Institute that, in close co-operation with the League and ICRC, it continue and encourage studies on voluntary service and that it organize symposiums, seminars and workshops on the different aspects of voluntary service, reinforcing all the while its training programme for National Society leaders, officers and volunteers.