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Stop Discrimination: World Red Cross and Red Crescent Day, 8 May 2004

06-05-2004 Statement

Statement by Jakob Kellenberger, president of the ICRC - The theme of this year's World Red Cross and Red Crescent Day is “Stop Discrimination.”

Intolerance and the lack of respect for diversity represent major obstacles to achieving the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement's core aim of protecting human dignity, and have an adverse impact on key aspects of its work.

On 8 May, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and National Societies worldwide commemorate the birth in 1828 of one of the Movement's founders, Henry Dunant, who inspired the creation of the ICRC in 1863. Based on the belief that all those injured on the battlefield had a right to receive care no matter which side they were fighting for, the principle of non-discrimination was at the very heart of the founders'earliest convictions and remains so for the Movement today.

The ICRC's work of protecting and assisting those affected by armed conflict is an essential part of " protecting human dignity, " the theme of the 28th International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent in 2003.

The theme “Stop Discrimination” is directly relevant to many of the ICRC's most important campaigns. For example, conflict often worsens the discrimination that women face, which is why the ICRC's Women and War initiative demanded that they enjoy the protection to which they are entitled under international humanitarian law.

Children in conflict are highly vulnerable. Orphans and homeless children are often isolated and face great danger, compounded by discrimination. Conflict separates many children fro m their families. Child soldiers returning from war find it difficult to reintegrate into society. The joint ICRC/UEFA "Protect Children in War" campaign in the run-up to June’s EURO 2004TM football championships in Portugal demands that the rights of children be respected.

Families ripped apart when loved ones go missing in conflict also face discrimination – those left behind often suffer discrimination in the form of marginalization and a lack of legal status, leading to isolation and the loss of financial support. The ICRC's “Missing” campaign confronts this discrimination.

The theme “Stop Discrimination” recalls the Fundamental Principles of the Movement and their continuing relevance today. These principles, together with international humanitarian law, are the basis of our mission to protect human dignity.

 For further information, please contact:  

 Ian Piper, ICRC Geneva, tel. ++41 22 730 20 63 or ++41 79 217 32 16