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ICRC Vice-President at the World Summit on Sustainable Development

26-08-2002 News Release

A delegation of the International Committee of the Red Cross, led by ICRC Vice-President Anne Petitpierre, participates in the Johannesburg World Summit on Sustainable Development.

" Warfare is inherently destructive of sustainable development " says the 1992 Rio Declaration. But, even during armed conflicts, means to avoid irreversible damage do exist. This is the core message that the ICRC intends to disseminate in Johannesburg.

Both international humanitarian law and humanitarian action aim at mitigating the long term negative impact of armed conflicts.

International humanitarian law sets limits to the means and methods of warfare. It especially includes rules protecting goods which are essential to sustainable development, such as hospitals, agricultural areas or drinking water installations. It also limits or forbids the use of weapons which can affect the natural environment numerous years after the end of the hostilities, such as antipersonnel landmines.

Humanitarian action should not only provide those who are affected by armed conflict with the necessary assistance. It should also, as much as possible, associate to the humanitarian effort the local human and material resources. By doing so, it will not only contribute to the preservation of these resources, but it will also allow them to participate fully in the resumption of the development process after the crisis period.

Mrs Petitpierre will deliver a statement during the plenary sessions at the Sandton Convention Centre. The ICRC will also make available the Guidelines for Military Manuals and Instructions on the Protection of the Environment in Times of Armed Conflict it has prepared, as well as a paper about the links between international humanitarian law and sustainable development.