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27th International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent: Draft Plan of Action for the years 2000 - 2003

12-08-1999

This Plan of Action is divided into three chapters representing the main areas of the Movement's work and highlighting areas where a renewed commitment and effort is required from States and the Movement in the coming years.

   

The members of the 27th International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent, held in Geneva from 31 October to 6 November 1999, adopt the following Plan of Action for the coming four years in order to improve the fate of victims of war and disaster and more generally of the most vulnerable people. They undertake to implement the proposed actions. 

In adopting this Plan of Action, the International Conference recognises the unique nature of the co-operation between the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement [1 ] and States [2 ] and the specific mandates of each component of the Movement. It also reaffirms the commitment of States to meet their existing obligations under international humanitarian law, to support the work of each component of the Movement and to respect at all times their adherence to the Fundamental Principles. 

The Plan of Action is divided into long term final goals and specific actions which represent the main areas where a renewed commitment and effort is required from States and the Movement in the coming four years. 

The 28th International Conference will evaluate the results attained over the next four years. To assist in the co-ordination of this process of evaluation, the Standing Commission of the Red Cross and Red Crescent will establish, in consultation with States, a process to follow up on the implementation of the Plan of Action and individual pledges made at the Conference.

   

 1. PROTECTION OF VICTIMS OF ARMED CONFLICT THROUGH RESPECT OF INTERNATIONAL HUMANITARIAN LAW  

 Final goals  :  

 1.1. Full compliance by all the parties to an armed conflict with their obligations under international humanitarian law to better protect and assist the civilian population and other victims.  

 1.2. An effective barrier against impunity through the combination of international treaties and national laws concerning the repression of violations of international humanitarian law, and the establishment of an equitable system of reparations.  

 1.3. Universal acceptance of international humanitarian law and the adoption of all necessary measures by States at the national level to ensure the implementation of their treaty obligations.   

 1.4. Integration, by all States, of international humanitarian law in the procedures and training of armed and security forces and its promotion to relevant organisations, professional bodies and educational institutions.  

 1.5. An end to the human tragedy caused by landmines and the establishment of effective controls on the availability of arms and ammunition.  

 Actions proposed  :  

 Final goal 1.1.   

 Full compliance by all the parties to an armed conflict with their obligations under international humanitarian law to better protect and assist the civilian population and other victims.  

1. All the parties to an armed conflict shall take effective measures to ensure respect for international humanitarian law and to ensure, in particular, that:

(a) in the conduct of hostilities, every effort is made to spare the life, protect and respect the civilian population, with particular protective measures   for women and groups with special vulnerabilities such as children, the elderly, persons with disabilities and displaced persons;

(b) strict orders are given to prevent massacres, summary executions, torture, rape and other forms of sexual violence, harassment, looting, wanton property destruction and threats to carry out such actions; effective mechanisms are established to ensure that these orders are duly implemented at all levels;

    

(c) actions provoking unwarranted population displacements are avoided and if displacement occurs, that displaced persons are respected and protected, appropriate assistance is provided to them and they are enabled to return voluntarily and in safety to their home or to resettle voluntarily in another part of the country;

(d) all persons deprived of their liberty for reasons related to the armed conflict are fully res pected and protected; prisoners of war are released and repatriated without delay after the cessation of active hostilities, unless subject to due judicial process; the prohibition of taking hostages is respected; the detention of prisoners and internees is not prolonged for bargaining purposes;

(e) every effort is made to clarify the fate of all persons unaccounted for and to inform the families accordingly, and to identify dead persons, inform their families and return their bodies to them; in order to ensure this, appropriate procedures be put into place from the beginning of an armed conflict;

(f) children receive the special protection, care and assistance, including access to educational and recreational facilities, to which they are entitled under national and international law; all measures are taken to stop the participation of children in armed hostilities and their recruitment into the armed forces or into armed groups, in violation of international humanitarian law; 

(g) the civilian population has all essential goods and services for its survival; rapid and unimpeded access to the civilian population is given to impartial humanitarian organisations in order that they can assess the situation and assist and protect the population accordingly; the reports and recommendations of impartial humanitarian organisations are seriously taken into account.

2. Armed opposition groups in non-international armed conflicts are urged to respect international humanitarian law and are called upon to declare their intention to do so. They shall teach that law to their forces.

3. Parties to an armed conflict ensure that conditions of security are guaranteed in order that the ICRC has access to, and can remain present, in all situations of armed conflict to protect the victims thereof and, in co-operation with National Societies and the International Federation, to provide them with the necessary assistance. Furthermore, the ICRC shall continue its efforts to seek to engage in a constructive dialogue with all parties to an armed conflict with a view to assisting them in meeting their obligations under international humanitarian law.

4. States ensure that forces under the command of the United Nations or regional organisations are instructed in international humanitarian law, observe the relevant principles and rules of this law and that alleged violators are brought to justice.

5. States which are not parties to an armed conflict shall, jointly or individually, take all possible measures aimed at ensuring respect for international humanitarian law, with a particular focus on serious violations of such law, in co-operation with the United Nations and in conformity with the United Nations Charter. Regional intergovernmental organisations shall participate in these efforts.

6. The International Federation, National Societies and the ICRC, continue their efforts and increase dialogue with States, in pursuance of decisions taken within the International Movement and notably the Plan of Action for Children Affected by Armed Conflict (CABAC), to : promote the principle of non-recruitment and non-participation of children below the age of 18 years in armed conflicts; meet the physical, psychological and social needs of children who have been affected by an armed conflict and to contribute to the reintegration into their communities and social environment of children who have participated in armed conflicts.

 7.  The ICRC formulates a set of guidelines aimed at better addressing the protection and assistance needs of women affected by armed conflict.

 Final goal 1.2.  

 An effective barrier against impunity through the combination of international treaties and national laws concerning the repression of violations of international humanitarian law, and the establishment of an equitable system of reparations.  

8. All States search for persons alleged to have committed, or who have ordered others to have committed, serious violations of international humanitarian law and bring them, regardless of their nationality, before their own courts or hand over such persons for trial by another State or to a duly constituted international tribunal or court. States are invited to actively contribute to the setting up of the International Criminal Court, to adhere to its Statute or, for those which consider themselves not yet in a position to do this, to collaborate in a constructive manner from its creation.

9. States work to clarify the issue of reparations for damages inflicted on the victims of violations of international humanitarian law and seek to develop appropriate mechanisms for the payment of such reparations.

 Final goal 1.3.   

 Universal acceptance of international humanitarian law and the adoption of all necessary measures by States at the national level to ensure the implementation of their treaty obligations.  

10. States not yet formally bound by the 1949 Geneva Conventions and their 1977 Additional Protocols, the 1954 Cultural Property Convention and its Protocols, the 1980 Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons and its four Protocols, the 1997 Ottawa Convention prohibiting anti-personnel mines and the 1998 Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, take the necessary measures to become party to them or contribute to the realisation of their objectives. States are called upon t o adhere to humanitarian law instruments and re-examine ratified instruments with a view to repealing any existing reservations.

11. States adopt the necessary implementing measures, in particular national legislation for the repression of war crimes and for the protection of the red cross and red crescent emblems. National committees should be created, with the support of National Societies, in order to facilitate co-ordination between ministries. Co-operation should also take place at the regional and international levels. National committees should be encouraged to send information on the measures taken and planned to the ICRC Advisory Service on International Humanitarian Law .

12. The ICRC Advisory Service, with the assistance of National Societies, shall strengthen its capacity to advise and assist States in their efforts to adopt national measures of implementation and shall further develop a database on such measures.

13. States which have not yet recognised the competence of the International Fact-Finding Commission pursuant to Article 90 of Additional Protocol I of 1977 shall examine again the possibility to do so or other means to reinforce its role. Parties to armed conflicts are called upon to examine systematically the utility and the possibility of resorting to the Commission in order to clarify facts or facilitate respect for international humanitarian law through its good offices, including in situations of non-international armed conflicts.

 Final goal 1.4.  

 Integration, by all States, of international humanitarian law in the procedures and training of armed and security forces and its promotion to relevant organisations, professional bodies and educational institutions.  

14. States examine their educational and training curricula to ensure that international humanitarian law is integrated in an appropriate manner in their armed and security forces and general educational programmes of relevant professional training bodies, universities and schools. States assess the level of knowledge of international humanitarian law required of relevant civil servants. To facilitate this the ICRC will provide guidelines and material for international humanitarian law training, as well as a framework to measure these assessments.

15. States ensure that the rules of international humanitarian law are incorporated into their operational procedures and that their armed and security forces apply these rules when they are engaged in operations. To this effect, international humanitarian law shall be integrated into the field manuals of all arms and services and into command procedures and become a standard issue in all command post and staff exercises as well as in military manoeuvres.

16. The ICRC, in co-operation with National Societies and the International Federation, develops innovative ways to promote the acceptance of international humanitarian law and Red Cross and Red Crescent principles by all relevant armed actors in conflict situations, including regional organisations and alliances, private companies and military consultants. States facilitate this analysis and action by the Movement.

 Final goal 1.5.   

 An end to the human tragedy caused by landmines and the establishment of effective controls on the availability of arms and ammunition.  

17. States continue their efforts to end the human tragedy caused by landmines, inter alia through concrete steps towards the elimination of anti-personnel mines and through measures in the fields of mine clearance, mine awareness and assistance to mine victims.

The Movement implements the long-term " Movement Strategy on Landmines " (to be) adopted by the 1999 Council of Delegates.

18. States which have not done so establish mechanisms and procedures to determine whether weapons being procured or developed conform to the requirements of international humanitarian law and make new efforts to build common understanding of the norms to be applied in the review of new weapons and promote transparency in the conduct and results of such reviews.

States analyse the approach proposed in the ICRC's report to the 27th Conference on the SIrUS Project and take into account the Project's data concerning the nature of injury in recent conflicts when determining whether a proposed weapon, by its design, causes effects on health which may constitute'superfluous injury or unnecessary suffering'.

19. States improve the protection of civilians in armed conflict and post-conflict situations by strengthening controls on the availability of arms and ammunition at the national, regional and international levels. States establish means to integrate consideration of likely respect for international humanitarian law into national decision making on arms transfers and in " codes of conduct " and other emerging norms governing the transfers of arms and ammunition.

The Movement will promote public awareness of the human costs of unregulated arms transfers and arms availability and continue to promote the ratification, and faithful implementation, of the relevant norm s of international humanitarian law governing weapons.

   

 2. HUMANITARIAN ACTION IN TIMES OF ARMED CONFLICT AND OTHER DISASTERS  

 Final goals:  

 2.1. Effective response in disaster situations through improved national and international preparedness.  

 2.2. Strengthened mechanisms of co-operation and co-ordination amongst States, the Movement and other humanitarian actors.  

 2.3. Provision for the rights and acute needs of the most vulnerable people as the first priority for humanitarian action.  

 2.4. Understanding of the respective roles of political, military and humanitarian actors, and protection of humanitarian personnel.  

 Actions proposed  :  

 Final goal 2.1.   

 Effective response in disaster situations through improved national and international preparedness.  

1. States:

(a) establish or update national disaster preparedness plans which incorporate linkages to international systems of disaster response and have clearly defined and agreed roles and responsibilities for National Societies, including representation on appropriate national policy and co-ordination bodies; 

1(b) examine the vulnerability of their disaster response systems to disaster damage and take steps to ensure that these systems can continue to operate effectively in responding to the needs created by disasters;

(c) help National Societies, in co-operation with the International Federation, to access and benefit from international funding within the multilateral context, including the Lome Convention, with a view to strengthening disaster preparedness.

2. National Societies supported by their respective governments, and by the International Federation and the ICRC, will:

(a) increase their disaster preparedness capacity, both nationally and internationally, based on an analysis of the lessons learnt from experience gained over the past decade, including those within the framework of the International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction,

(b) examine the vulnerability of their disaster response systems to disaster damage and take steps to ensure that these systems can continue to operate effectively in responding to the needs created by disasters.

3. The International Federation, whilst drawing upon existing research, will undertake a study to assess the future impact of climatic changes upon t he frequency and severity of disasters and the implications for humanitarian action.

 Final goal 2.2.   

 Strengthened mechanisms of co-operation and co-ordination amongst States, the Movement and other humanitarian actors.  

4. The Movement, supported by States, undertakes to intensify its efforts to improve co-operation and co-ordination in its international activities, both internally as set out in the 1997 Seville Agreement, and with States, regional, national and sub-national authorities, international organisations and other actors, based upon the " Code of Conduct for the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and Non-Governmental Organisations in Disaster Relief " .

5. States and the Movement shall support efforts to develop minimum standards for the delivery of humanitarian assistance and take note of the standards developed in the Sphere project.

6. The Movement will develop its activities in post-conflict situations. In particular, the International Federation will develop its strategy to guide post-conflict relief and rehabilitation programming based on National Societies'capacity for social mobilisation and service provision. 

7. States and the Movement co-operate to further develop:

(a) response mechanisms that are, above all, rapid, flexible and effective in responding to needs of victims and vulnerable people;

(b) funding mechanisms that provide more predictable funding while recognising the accountability requirements of all parties.

 Final goal 2.3.   

 Provision for the rights and acute needs of the most vulnerable people as the first priority for humanitarian action.  

8. States and parties to an armed conflict take all necessary measures to ensure that the civilian character of refugee camps and internally displaced person camps is maintained, notably by ensuring that appropriate conditions are met regarding location, environment, camp security and the enforcement of law and order.

9. National Societies and the International Federation increase their efforts on behalf of refugees and asylum seekers in co-operation with UNHCR and:

(a) vigorously support States in fulfilling their obligations to assist and protect refugees and asylum seekers;

(b) ensure that their programmes support host government efforts to seek durable solutions for refugees;

(c) promote efforts to deve lop solidarity and understanding between host communities and refugees and asylum seekers;

10. States encourage the United Nations Security Council, before applying economic sanctions, to take into account the needs of the civilian population and apply humanitarian exceptions in accordance with international humanitarian law and other relevant instruments. The Security Council assesses the humanitarian impact of the sanctions regime and adjusts it accordingly.

 Final goal 2.4.  

 Understanding of the respective roles of political, military and humanitarian actors, and protection of humanitarian personnel.  

    

11. Political and military actors and humanitarian organisations strengthen their dialogue in order to ensure mutual understanding of, and respect for, the other's mandate and role, whilst maintaining the clear distinction between their fundamentally different missions and modes of operation.

12. Parties to an armed conflict respect and protect humanitarian personnel at all times. Attacks on such personnel are duly investigated and those alleged to have committed such attacks are brought to justice.

   

 3. STRATEGIC PARTNERSHIP TO IMPROVE THE LIVES OF VULNERABLE  PEOPLE  

 Final goals:  

 3.1. Improved health for vulnerable people based on strengthened co-operation between States and National Societies.  

 3.2. New initiatives to meet the needs of vulnerable people and to reduce discrimination and violence in the community.  

 3.3. Increased National Society capacities and effective partnership with States.  

 Actions proposed :

 Final goal 3.1.   

 Improved health for vulnerable people based on strengthened co-operation between States and National Societies.  

1. States recognise the role of National Societies in providing and advocating for improved health and social services particularly for vulnerable groups. They strengthen their co-operation with their National Society, notably by ensuring that they are represented in appropriate national policy, planning and implementation bodies.

2. States, National Societies, and the International Federation, together with the appropriate international and national bodies, develop their collaboration to increase promotion and provision of primary health care, with particular emphasis on the health and well being of vulnerable people in inaccessible and under-served areas and in the most deprive d sections of large cities.

3. The International Federation and National Societies, in co-operation with WHO, further strengthen their capacity to prevent communicable diseases, (including emerging and re-emerging diseases), especially tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases, malaria and vaccine-preventable diseases.

4. States recognise the intrinsic value of first aid training for the public as an effective means for prevention, preparedness and response to emergencies as well as day-to-day health problems. Accordingly, States include first aid training in the school curricula for all ages through the necessary legislation or other appropriate mechanism. They also provide opportunities for first aid training for public servants, health professionals and members of the community, utilising in particular the expertise and capacity of their National Societies.

5. States respond to the major and growing problem of road accidents, especially in developing countries and countries in transition, through a commitment to the development of appropriate road safety improvement programmes with all the concerned parties, in particular National Societies.

National Societies develop their role in support of such programmes through first aid training and public awareness activities to reduce levels of road accidents and the resulting casualties, especially among vulnerable populations.

6. States recognise that blood service provision as part of health care is the overall responsibility of governments. National Societies support national blood programmes as needed through the provision of high quality and safe blood services based upon voluntary, non-remunerated blood donation. To this end, States strive to ensure that adequate resources are made available to National Societies involved in such programmes.

 Final goal 3.2.   

 New initiatives to meet the needs of vulnerable people and to reduce discrimination and violence in the community.  

7. The ICRC, the International Federation and National Societies develop innovative ways to explain and communicate the Fundamental Principles of the Red Cross and Red Crescent, inside the Movement and externally to local authorities and the community, as a means of:

(a) ensuring that all volunteers and staff of the Movement understand and act on the basis of the Fundamental Principles in their day-to-day work with vulnerable people;

(b) ensuring that public authorities understand the role of the Movement, use its capacity and facilitate its access to vulnerable people in peaceful and violent circumstances;

(c) developing mutual understanding and fostering initiatives in the community to protect life and health and to ensure respect for the human being.

8. States support the above mentioned initiatives and facilitate access to schools and universities for National Societies, the International Federation and the ICRC, and contribute to the development of communication and teaching materials which foster understanding of the Fundamental Principles.

9. National Societies review and adjust their service delivery and communication programmes to ensure that they fully represent the application of the Fundamental Principles, with particular reference to advocacy for, and services to, the most vulnerable people in the community.

10. National Societies, in revi ewing their programmes, pay special attention to the needs of children living in difficult circumstances, in particular street children. With the support of the International Federation, they develop their activities and advocacy to contribute to meeting these needs.

States commit to improving the plight of children living in difficult circumstances, in particular street children, by meeting their special needs, with emphasis on prevention of sexual exploitation and physical and other forms of abuse with the ultimate objective of the reintegration of these children into their families and society. They draw on the capacities of National Societies, and support their action in meeting the needs of street children.

11. National Societies undertake new initiatives and co-operate with States to address issues of discrimination and violence in the community and to promote respect for diversity and the development of a culture of non-violence in the resolution of differences.

 Final goal 3.3.   

 Increased National Society capacities and effective partnership with States.  

12. States, recognising the auxiliary role of National Societies and the growing significance of their work in the provision of services and the fostering of respect for the human being:

(a) commit to further strengthening the capacity of the National Society of their own country, facilitating and supporting its role in response to new challenges in the national context;

(b) recognise the growing importance of volunteers as providers of practical and emotional support to vulnerable people in the community, thus bridging the gap between the formal service delivery system and the family. States co nsequently review, and where necessary, introduce or update legislation to support voluntarism;

(c) increase their support to development co-operation to build a stronger, global, National Society network, better able to respond to needs in the community and to disasters, drawing on the experience of the “Tripartite Process” launched by the International Federation in follow-up to the 26th International Conference.

13. National Societies, in order to ensure their capacity to respond more effectively to new challenges:

(a) take new initiatives to ensure a well-balanced participation by people from all sectors of society in their organisation and programmes, and promote their integration into decision-making processes and leadership positions;

    

(b) review their legal base and statutes to determine whether they need to be updated. As part of this process they consider the draft model law prepared by the International Federation and the ICRC, the guidelines for National Society statutes and other relevant decisions of Movement and International Federation statutory bodies.

14. The International Federation:

(a) continues research, in co-operation with National Societies, on specific aspects of voluntarism, in order to develop updated policy and guidelines;

(b) initiates, in co-operation with National Societies and the ICRC, an in-depth study into the contemporary relationship between States and National Societies taking into account the changing needs in the humanitarian, health and social fields, and the evolving role of the State, the priv ate sector and voluntary organisations in service provision;

(c) implements " Strategy 2010 " (to be) adopted by its General Assembly in October 1999, which seeks to build the individual and collective action of National Societies, in co-operation with States, in order to improve the lives of vulnerable people

 Notes  

1. The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement is composed of the International Committee of the Red Cross (referred to herein as the " ICRC " ), National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (referred to herein as " National Societies " ) and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (referred to herein as the " International Federation " ). Throughout this document the term " Movement " is used to denote all the aforementioned components

2. Throughout this document the term " States " refers to States Party to the Geneva Conventions of 1949.