Plan of Action for the years 2000-2003
31-12-1999 Article, International Review of the Red Cross, No. 836
27th International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent, Geneva, 31 October to 6 November 1999
Annex 2 of the resolution 1
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 care and protection of victims of armed conflicts and disasters and more generally of the most vulnerable people. They will implement the actions set out in the Plan of Action in accordance with their respective powers, mandates and capacities.
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, adhering to the purposes and principles of the United Nations Charter, 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 the components'adherence to the Fundamental Principles.
The Plan of Action is divided into long term goals and specific actions which represent the main areas where a renewed effort is required from States and the Movement for their respective commitments in the coming four years. [3 ]
The 28th International Conference will evaluate the results attained over the next four years. The Standing Commission of the Red Cross and Red Crescent will encourage and further the implementat ion of the Plan of Action, according to its statutory mandate, through consultations with States party to the Geneva Conventions, components of the Movement and other actors, as to the best methods of achieving this.
1. Protection of victims of armed conflict through respect of international humanitarian law
1.1 Full compliance by all the parties to an armed conflict with their obligations under international humanitarian law to protect and assist the civilian population and other victims of the conflict and to respect protected objects
1.2 An effective barrier against impunity through the combination of relevant international treaties and national laws concerning the repression of violations of international humanitarian law, and the examination 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 obligations under international law
1.4 Integration, by States, of their obligations under international humanitarian law in relevant procedures and training. Promotion of this law among relevant persons and bodies
1.5 Conformity of weapons with international humanitarian law, the establishment of effective controls on the availability of arms and ammunition, and an end to the human tragedy caused by anti-personnel landmines
Final goal 1.1 -- Full compliance by all the parties to an armed conflict with their obligations under international humanitarian law to protect and assist the civilian population and other victims of the conflict and to respect protected objects
1. All the parties to an armed conflict take effective measures to respect and ensure respect for international humanitarian law and to ensure, in particular, in accordance with their relevant obligations under international humanitarian law, that:
(a) in the conduct of hostilities, every effort is made -- in addition to the total ban on directing attacks against the civilian population as such or against civilians not taking a direct part in hostilities or against civilian objects -- to spare the life, protect and respect the civilian population, with particular protective measures for women and girls, and groups with special vulnerabilities such as children, the elderly, persons with disabilities and displaced persons and to protect civilian objects including cultural property, places of worship and diplomatic facilities;
(b) strict orders are given to prevent all serious violations of international humanitarian law, including massacres, summary executions, torture, gender-based violence in particular rape and other forms of sexual violence, harassment, enforced disappearances, collective punishment, 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 and perpetrators punished;
(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 able to return voluntarily, in peaceful conditions and in safety to their home or to resettle voluntarily elsewhere;
(d) all persons deprived of their liberty for reasons related to the armed conflict are fully respected 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 strictly respected; the detention of prisoners and internees is not prolonged for bargaining purposes which practice is prohibited by the Geneva Conventions;
(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 at the latest 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, including penal measures, are taken to stop the participation of children under the age of 15 years in armed hostilities and their recruitment into the armed forces or into armed groups, which constitute a violation of international humanitarian law;
and, in this context, recall Resolution 2 C (d) of the 26th International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent of 1995, which recommends that: “parties to conflict refrain from arming children under the age of 18 years and take every feasible step to ensure that children under the age of 18 years do not take part in hostilities”.
(g) every possible effort is made to provide the civilian population with all essential goods and services for its survival; rapid and unimpeded access to the civilian population is given to impartial humanitarian organisations in accordance with international humanitarian law in order that they can provide assistance and protection to the population; the reports and recommendations of impartial humanitarian organisations are seriously taken into account.
(h) an attempt is made wherever possible to enhance the safety of protected persons, and in the framework of international humanitarian law or the United Nations Charter, to create a humanitarian space through the establishment of safety zones, humanitarian corridors, and other forms of special protection for civilian populations and other persons protected under international humanitarian law.
2. States stress the provisions of international humanitarian law prohibiting the use of starvation of civilians as a method of warfare and on attacking, destroying, removing or rendering useless, for that purpose, objects indispensable to the survival of the civilian population.
3. Organised armed groups in non-international armed conflict are urged to respect international humanitarian law. They are
called upon to declare their intention to respect that law and teach it to their forces.
4. Parties to an armed conflict use their best endeavours to ensure that conditions of security are guaranteed in order that the ICRC, in accordance with international humanitarian law, has access to, and can re main 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 continues its efforts to seek to engage in a constructive dialogue with all parties to an armed conflict, in co-operation with them and with their consent in regard to which full account of the Geneva Conventions has to be taken, with a view to assisting them in meeting their obligations under international humanitarian law.
5. Contributing States, the United Nations or regional organisations ensure as appropriate that personnel under the command of the United Nations or regional organisations are instructed in international humanitarian law and observe the relevant principles and rules of this law.
6. In situations of serious violations of international humanitarian law, States party to the Geneva Conventions act, jointly or individually, in co-operation with the United Nations and in conformity with the United Nations Charter. Regional intergovernmental organisations may participate in these efforts on the same legal basis.
7. The International Federation, National Societies and the ICRC will continue their efforts 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 reinteg ration into their communities and social environment of children who have participated in armed conflicts.
States are encouraged to engage in a constructive dialogue with the International Federation, National Societies and the ICRC on the Plan of Action for Children Affected by Armed Conflict (CABAC).
8. The ICRC formulates a set of guidelines aimed at better addressing the protection and assistance needs of women and girls affected by armed conflict.
9. States take into consideration the report and recommendations of the United Nations Secretary General on the Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict (S/1999/957 of 8 September 1999).
Final goal 1.2 -- An effective barrier against impunity through the combination of relevant international treaties and national laws concerning the repression of violations of international humanitarian law, and the examination of an equitable system of reparations
10. States vigorously implement their international obligations regarding the repression of war crimes, co-operating with each
other in doing so where necessary. States search for persons alleged to have committed, or to have ordered to be committed, grave breaches and bring them, regardless of their nationality, before their own courts or if they prefer, and in accordance with the provisions of their own legislation, hand over such persons for trial to another State with jurisdiction and consider taking similar action pursuant to international law in respect of other war crimes. States are invited actively to consider contributing to the setting up of the Internation al Criminal Court and to adhere to its Statute.
11. States examine mechanisms for making reparations for damage inflicted on the victims of violations of international humanitarian law.
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 obligations under international law
12. States consider or reconsider, in order to enhance the universal character of international humanitarian law, becoming party to the relevant treaties concluded since the adoption of the 1949 Geneva Conventions. States express their appreciation of the ICRC's continued efforts to promote universal adherence to these treaties. States re-examine ratified instruments with a view to considering the possibility of withdrawing existing reservations.
13. States adopt the necessary implementing measures, in particular national legislation for the repression of war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity and for the protection of the red cross and red crescent emblems. States are encouraged to create or further develop national committees or other mechanisms, with the support of National Societies, in order to facilitate co-ordination between ministries. Co-operation also takes place at the regional and international levels. An information exchange system on implementation of international humanitarian law is to be considered.
14. The ICRC Advisory Service on International Humanitarian Law, with the assistance of National Societies, strengthens its capacity to advise and assist State s, with their consent, in their efforts to adopt national measures of implementation and further develop the database on such measures. States and national committees or other mechanisms are encouraged to send information on legislation, case law and other measures taken and planned to the ICRC Advisory Service.
15. States party to Additional Protocol I to the Geneva Conventions which have not yet recognised the competence of the International Fact-Finding Commission pursuant to Article 90 thereof consider again the possibility of doing so. 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. The International Fact-Finding Commission acts in accordance with international law.
Final goal 1.4 - Integration, by States, of their obligations under international humanitarian law in relevant procedures and training. Promotion of this law among relevant persons and bodies
16. States examine their educational and training curricula to ensure that international humanitarian law is integrated in an appropriate manner in their training programmes for armed and security forces and relevant civil servants. States promote knowledge of international humanitarian law among decision-makers and the media and work for the inclusion of international humanitarian law in the general educational programmes of relevant organisations, professional bodies and educational institutions. To facilitate these tasks, the ICRC will provide, where required, guidelines and material for international humanitarian law training. Nati onal Societies will co-operate in providing such training where necessary.
17. States ensure that the rules of international humanitarian law are incorporated into the operational procedures of their armed and security forces and applied by their forces when they are engaged in operations to which the rules apply. To this effect, international humanitarian law will be integrated into their field manuals and, as appropriate, into command procedures, and become a standard norm in command post and staff exercises as well as in military manoeuvres.
18. The ICRC, in co-operation with National Societies and the International Federation, develops innovative ways, in collaboration with bodies such as the media, and religious and other comparable institutions, to promote the acceptance of international humanitarian law and Red Cross and Red Crescent principles by all relevant actors in armed conflict situations. States facilitate this analysis and action by the Movement as appropriate.
Final goal 1.5 -- Conformity of weapons with international humanitarian law, the establishment of effective controls on the availability of arms and ammunition, and an end to the human tragedy caused by anti-personnel landmines
19. States make all possible efforts to end the human tragedy caused by anti-personnel landmines through concrete steps towards their elimination, for example, considering adherence to relevant international legal instruments and prohibiting the transfer of anti-personnel landmines, and through national and international measures and co-operative efforts in the fields of mine clearance, mine awareness and assistance to mine victims and their communities.
The Movement implements the long-term “Movement Strategy on Landmines” adopted by the 1999 Council of Delegates.
20. States should endeavour, wherever appropriate, to engage in post-conflict discussions with respect to aiding the victims of war.
21. States which have not done so are encouraged to establish mechanisms and procedures to determine whether the use of weapons, whether held in their inventories or being procured or developed, would conform to the obligations binding on them under international humanitarian law. States are encouraged to promote, wherever possible, exchange of information and transparency in relation to these mechanisms, procedures and evaluations.
States and the ICRC may engage in consultations to promote these mechanisms, and in this regard analyse the extent to which the ICRC SIrUS ( Superfluous Injury or Unnecessary Suffering ) Project Report to the 27th Conference and other available information may assist States.
22. States take all possible measures for the negotiation of international instruments in order to adequately address the problems caused by weapons. States will make all efforts towards the successful conclusion of the negotiations on a protocol to strengthen the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention.
23. States enhance the protection of civilians in armed conflict and post-conflict situations by seeking to strengthen controls on the availability of arms, in particular small arms and ammunition, at the national, regional and international levels, including by improving national export regulations. States examine the establishment of means to int egrate consideration of respect for international humanitarian law into national decision-making on transfers of arms and ammunition, and, where relevant, examine ways of integrating such considerations into “codes of conduct”.
The Movement will promote public awareness of the human costs of unregulated arms transfers and widespread arms availability and continue to promote the ratification, and faithful implementation, of the relevant norms of international humanitarian law governing weapons.
2. Humanitarian action in times of armed conflict and other disasters
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
Final goal 2.1 - Effective response in disaster situations through improved national and international preparedness
1. States will:
(a) establish or update national disaster preparedness plans which incorporate linkages, where necessary, 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;
(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, as appropriate, National Societies, in co-operation with the International Federation, to access and benefit from international funding within the multilateral context, with a view to strengthening disaster preparedness.
2. National Societies, supported by their respective governments, the International Federation and the ICRC, will:
(a) strengthen their disaster preparedness and response capacities, including the raising of community awareness and support, both nationally and internationally, in response to changing patterns of risk and vulnerability, and through lessons learned from experience gained over the past decade, including those within the framework of the International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction (IDNDR);
(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, whil e drawing upon existing research and the competence of relevant international bodies, will undertake a study to assess the future impact of climatic changes upon the frequency and severity of disasters and the implications for humanitarian response and preparedness.
Final goal 2.2 - Strengthened mechanisms of co-operation and co-ordination amongst States, the Movement and other humanitarian actors
4. The Movement, supported where appropriate by States, undertakes to improve co-operation and co-ordination in its international activities, both internally as set out in the 1997 Seville Agreement, and with States, the United Nations system, 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 will support efforts to develop minimum practical standards for the delivery of humanitarian assistance, such as those elaborated in the Sphere project (Humanitarian Charter and Minimum Standards in Disaster Response).
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. States and the Movement will promote better co-ordination between States, international organisations, the Movement, NGOs and other organisations in managing the transition from emergency humanitarian assistance to longer term development assistance.
7. States and the Movement will 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 and appropriate 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 all parties to an armed conflict will take all necessary measures to ensure the civilian character of refugee and internally displaced persons camps, and that appropriate conditions are met regarding location, environment, camp security, law and order, and registration. The Movement will offer its services, where required, in assisting to meet these responsibilities.
9. National Societies, the International Federation and the ICRC, according to their respective mandates and in accordance with international humanitarian law, may offer their services on behalf of refugees and asylum seekers in co-operation with UNHCR, and, taking note of the Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement, may also offer their services on behalf of internally displaced persons, and will:
(a) extend support to States in fulfilling their obligations to assist and protect refugees, asylum seekers and internally displaced persons;
(b) ensure that their programmes support host government efforts to seek durable solutions for displaced populations, including voluntary re patriation in safety and dignity, in dialogue with countries of origin;
(c) promote efforts to develop solidarity and understanding between host communities and refugees, asylum seekers and internally displaced persons.
10. States and the Movement encourage the United Nations Security Council, before applying economic sanctions, to take into
account the needs of the civilian population and apply humanitarian exemptions, as appropriate. States welcome the note by the President of the Security Council of 29 January 1999 on the work of the sanctions committees, in particular the paragraphs relating to the humanitarian impact of sanctions.
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, while acknowledging and respecting the clear distinction between their different missions and modes of operations, will undertake at the national and international levels to strengthen their dialogue in order to ensure a clear understanding of, and respect for, each others'mandates and roles.
12. Humanitarian personnel will be respected and protected at all times. Threats to, and attacks on, such personnel will be duly investigated and those alleged to have committed such attacks will be brought to justice under due process of law. In this context, States are encouraged to consider becoming parties to the 1994 Convention on the Safety of United Nations and Associated Personnel.
3. Strategic partnership to improve the lives of vulnerable people
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, and co-operation with relevant humanitarian and development organisations
Final goal 3.1 - Improved health for vulnerable people based on strengthened co-operation between States and National Societies
1. States note the important role of National Societies in providing and advocating for improved health and social services particularly for vulnerable groups, and will strengthen their co-operation with their National Societies to further this end. States will provide opportunities, where appropriate, for National Societies to be represented in policy, planning and implementation bodies.
2. States, National Societies, and the International Federation, together with the appropriate international and national bodies, will develop their collaboration to increase promotion and provision of primary health care, with particular emphasis on preventa tive primary health care and the well-being of vulnerable people in inaccessible and under-served areas, and in the most deprived sections of large cities.
3. States recognise that blood service provision as part of health care is the overall responsibility of governments. National Societies will 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 will strive to ensure, where appropriate, that adequate resources are made available to National Societies involved in such programmes.
4. The International Federation and National Societies will, in co-operation with States, and appropriate national and international bodies, further strengthen their capacity to prevent, treat and control communicable diseases (including emerging and re-emerging diseases), especially tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases, malaria and vaccine-preventable diseases.
5. 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, where appropriate, will give consideration to providing opportunities for first aid training for school children, public servants, health professionals and members of the community, utilising in particular the expertise and capacity of their National Societies.
6. States will respond to the growing global problem of road accidents through, for example, the further development of road safety measures in collaboration with all concerned partners, in particular National Societies. Concerned National Societies will develop their role in support of first aid training and public awareness activities to reduce levels of road accidents and the resulting casualties, especially amongst vulnerable populations.
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, with the support of States where applicable, will 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;
(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, in accordance with applicable international law;
(c) developing mutual understanding and fostering initiatives in the community, taking into account the diversity of its cultural, religious and other representative features, to protect life and health and to ensure respect for the human being.
8. States, where appropriate, will facilitate access to schools and universities for National Societies, the International Federation and the ICRC, and will contribute to the development of communication and teaching materials which foster understanding of the Fundamental Principles.
9. National Societies will re view 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 reviewing their programmes, will pay special attention to the needs of children living in difficult circumstances, in particular street children. With the support of the International Federation, they will develop their activities and advocacy, where appropriate, to contribute to meeting these needs. States, where appropriate, will draw on the capacities of National Societies, and support their actions in meeting the needs of street children.
11. States will seek to improve the plight of children living in difficult circumstances by meeting their special needs, with emphasis on prevention of sexual exploitation and physical and other forms of abuse and the sale of children with the ultimate objective of the reintegration of these children into their families and society. States will strive to achieve the rapid conclusion of the work of the United Nations Working Group on an Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography.
12. National Societies and States will co-operate and, as appropriate, take initiatives to promote tolerance, non-violence in the community and respect for cultural diversity.
Final goal 3.3 - Increased National Society capacities and effective partnership with States, and co-operation with relevant humanitarian and development organisations
13. 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, will:
(a) where necessary, 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 complementing the coverage of needs not met by the formal service delivery system. States consequently review, and where necessary, introduce or update legislation so as to facilitate the efficient work of relevant voluntary organisations;
(c) increase their support for building a stronger, global National Society network, better able to respond to needs in the community and to disasters. In this they will give due recognition to the experience of the “Tripartite Process” launched by the International Federation in follow-up to the 26th International Conference;
(d) as appropriate, increase their support for co-ordination between the National Society network and relevant humanitarian and development organisations.
14. National Societies, in order to ensure their capacity to respond more effectively to new challenges, will:
(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 National Society 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 will 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;
(c) commit themselves to increased co-ordination and co-operation with relevant humanitarian and development organisations.
15. The International Federation will:
(a) continue its research, in co-operation with National Societies, on specific aspects of voluntarism, in order to develop updated policy and guidelines;
(b) initiate, in co-operation with National Societies and the ICRC, an in-depth study into the working relationship between States and National Societies, taking into account the changing needs in the humanitarian, health and social fields, the auxiliary role of National Societies and the evolving role of the State, the private sector and voluntary organisations in service provision;
(c) implement “Strategy 2010”, adopted by its General Assembly in October 1999, which seeks to build the individual and collective actions of National Societies, in co-operation with States, in order to improve the lives of vulnerable people.