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Council of Delegates 1997: Resolution 8

27-11-1997 Resolution

Peace, International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights

Council of Delegates of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, Seville, Spain, 25 - 27 November 1997

The Council of Delegates,

having taken cognizance of the various interim and progress reports on work accomplished in areas pertaining to children in armed conflicts, street children, and the role and attitude of the Movement in regard to arms transfers, anti-personnel landmines and the security of field personnel,

 recalling all the efforts made to foster peace and develop the Movement’s contribution to respect for human rights and for international humanitarian law, and the importance of ensuring the promotion and implementation thereof,

 stressing the need to encourage any initiative aimed at promoting indigenous local capacities for conflict resolution and peace building, tolerance, solidarity, dialogue and mutual understanding, at combating all forms of discrimination and at raising awareness of those values,

 reaffirming the necessity for the Movement, which upholds such values, to continue its efforts to spread knowledge of the rules of international humanitarian law and the principles and ideals of the Movement and to achieve greater respect for the fundamental rights of the individual,

1. With regard to children affected by armed conflict:

recalling Resolution 2C of the 26th International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent (1995), recommending 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”, and Resolution 5 of the Council of Delegates (1995) endorsing a Plan of Action for the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement concerning children in armed conflicts,

 welcoming the resolution adopted by the Organization of African Unity (Sixty-sixth Ordinary Session of the Council of Ministers, 26-30 May 1997, Harare, Zimbabwe) condemning recruitment and conscription of children under the age of 18 years,

 mindful that the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and their 1977 Additional Protocols establish protection for children affected by armed conflict and provide a basis for the Movement’s services on behalf of these children,

 commending the progress made by the ICRC, the National Societies and the International Federation in implementing the Movement’s Programme on Children Affected by Armed Conflict (CABAC),

 welcoming the work of the international coordinating group set up to monitor implementation of the Plan of Action, and the cooperation established between the Movement and other organizations,

 concerned by the number of contexts in which armed conflict is still having a serious effect on children, and by the resulting need to increase support for activities on their behalf,

 regretting the fact that no international agreement has yet been reached to set at 18 years the minimum age limit for recruitment into armed forces or armed groups and for participation in hostilities,

1.  urges all National Societies, the International Federation and the ICRC to implement the Plan of Action for the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement concerning children in armed conflicts;

2.  further urges all National Societies, the International Federation and the ICRC to support the work of the international coordinating group set up to facilitate and monitor implementation of the Plan of Action;

3.  takes note with interest of the report on progress achieved in implementing the Plan of Action and requests the international coordinating group to submit a report to the Council of Delegates in 1999;

4.  calls on all the components of the Movement to undertake specific action aimed at providing all necessary psychological and social assistance to children affected by armed conflict, and to take every feasible measure to help reintegrate the children into their families, their communities and their normal environment after the conflict;

5.  appeals to all National Societies to promote the Movement’s position on the 18-year age limit for recruitment and participation in hostilities, with a view to encouraging their respective governments to adopt national legislation and recruitment procedures in line with this position;

6.  asks National Societies of countries that have already adopted the 18-year age limit for recruitment and participation to urge their respective governments to make their positions known to other governments, and to encourage their respective governments to participate in and support the process of drafting an optional protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on involvement of children in armed conflicts;

7.  acknowledges the efforts made by the ICRC and the International Federation to support and facilitate action by National Societies with regard to this 18-year age limit and to promote the minimum age limit in the relevant international fora, and requests them to continue those efforts within the framework of the Plan of Action for the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement concerning children affected by armed conflict.

 2. With regard to street children:  

deeply concerned about the growing number of street children in the vast majority of countries and the conditions in which they are forced to live, which deprive them of their basic rights,

 expressing grave concern at all forms of abuse, exploitation and neglect to which street children are particularly vulnerable,

 aware of the capacities and potential of National Societies to advocate the plight of street children and to contribute to improving their situation and meeting their particular needs,

 recalling Resolution 2, operative para. 5, adopted by the 1995 Council of Delegates and resolution 51/77, Chapter VI, of the General Assembly of the United Nations of 12 December 1996, on the plight of street children,

 recalling the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child as the major international legal instrument for the protection of the rights of all children, including street children,

1.  takes note of and congratulates the Henry Dunant Institute for its study on street children carried out in collaboration with the ICRC and the International Federation and thanks National Societies which have actively contributed to it;

2.  urges National Societies to include street children in their health, social, or youth programmes, since they are an especially vulnerable group;

3.  recommends that National Societies draw inspiration from experiences developed within the Movement with street children, and strongly encourages them to cooperate effectively within the Movement and with intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations which have expertise in this domain;

4.  calls upon National Societies to actively take part in advocating the plight of street children, since this problem is still denied in some countries;

5.  invites National Societies to create preventive programmes, to provide assistance to street children in order to guarantee their rights as set down notably in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, and to ensure their reintegration into society, with the participation of the children themselves;

6.  requests the International Federation to establish a task force on street children to reinforce awareness of this issue, to draw up and implement a Plan of Action on the basis of the study of the Henry Dunant Institute, with the aim of encouraging action by National Societies, and to report back to the next Council of Delegates.

 3. With regard to anti-personnel landmines:  

deeply alarmed by the appalling level of suffering caused by the presence of millions of anti-personnel landmines worldwide,

 endorsing the campaign of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement against the scourge of anti-personnel mines,

 noting with appreciation the proposals made by the ICRC to the international community to greatly improve assistance to landmine victims,

 welcoming the increasing number of unilateral decisions to ban anti-personnel mines and of regional initiatives for the establishment of zones free of these weapons,

 welcoming also the rapid progress being made towards the global prohibition of the production, transfer, stockpiling and use of anti-personnel mines,

 welcoming in particular the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on their Destruction, adopted in Oslo on 18 September 1997,

 taking into account Resolution 10 of the 1995 Council of Delegates,

1.  urgently calls upon National Societies to promote the signing by their governments, in Ottawa in December 1997, of the aforementioned comprehensive international humanitarian law Convention prohibiting

anti-personnel mines, to work for the earliest possible national ratification of this treaty to ensure its rapid entry into force, and to encourage their governments to take all appropriate additional means to achieve the total elimination of all anti-personnel mines;

2.  calls upon National Societies, where required, to encourage their governments to adopt national legislation outlawing anti-personnel landmines;

3.  urges all components of the Movement to intensify their efforts in support of the total prohibition and elimination of all anti-personnel mines, the care, treatment and rehabilitation of landmine victims, including their social and economic reintegration, and mine awareness programmes as foreseen, inter alia, in Article 6 of the aforementioned Convention;

4.  encourages all components of the Movement, when considering support for mine clearance activities, to follow the guidelines for the Movement on this subject;

5.  requests the ICRC and the International Federation, in consultation with National Societies, to elaborate a long-term strategy to address the anti-personnel mines problem, in particular the suffering of victims, and further develop mine awareness programmes, thus showing the continuing commitment of the Movement to the mines issue;

6.  requests the ICRC and the International Federation to report to the 1999 meeting of the Council of Delegates on progress made towards the total prohibition and elimination of all anti-personnel landmines, in alleviating the suffering of victims, and in elaborating and carrying out the aforementioned long-term strategy of the Movement.

 4. With regard to arms transfers:  

noting with concern the easy access of combatants and civilians unfamiliar with the requirements of international humanitarian law to a wide variety of weapons, particularly small arms, and their frequent use against civilian populations and in violation of basic humanitarian principles,

 recalling Council of Delegates Resolution 2, para. 8, of 1995, which called for study and clarification of the Movement’s role and attitude on the problem of arms transfers,

 recalling  further the concern about the proliferation of weapons expressed by the Movement to the 26th International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent and the Conference’s mandate to the ICRC to study the relationship between arms availability and violations of international humanitarian law,

 welcoming the ICRC’s discussions with legal advisers of National Societies, in October 1996, on the subject of arms transfers and international humanitarian law,

 taking note of the report to the present Council of Delegates on changing patterns of arms transfers since the end of the Cold War,

1.  expresses its concern about the easy availability of arms which may facilitate violations of international humanitarian law;

2.  supports the ICRC’s efforts to document the manner in which unrestrained arms transfers may facilitate violations of international humanitarian law and increase the suffering of civilians in situations of armed conflict;

3.  requests that the role and attitude of the Movement on this issue be further clarified, before the next meeting of the Council of Delegates.

 5. With regard to the security and safety of the staff of humanitarian organizations:  

alarmed by the ever-more frequent threats to the safety and security of Red Cross and Red Crescent personnel and of the staff of other humanitarian organizations, in particular through intentional and often fatal violent attacks, as well as by hostage-taking,

 worried that the targeting of acts of violence against neutral and impartial humanitarian activities is likely to put threatened populations in jeopardy through lack of protection and assistance,

 concerned by the failure to respect the red cross and red crescent emblems in these situations and aware of the increased risk of confusion in the field between the humanitarian players and between their different modes of action, and of the consequent deterioration of security,

 reaffirming that humanitarian law also extends protection to the relief work of impartial and humanitarian organizations which is carried out, without any adverse distinction, in favour of the civilian population,

 aware of the forthcoming Periodical Meeting of States, where the security and safety of humanitarian personnel will be discussed,

 recalling Resolution 9 of the 1995 Council of Delegates,

1.  appeals to all components of the Movement to urge States to take all necessary steps, both nationally and internationally, without prejudice to the Fundamental Principles, to ensure unimpeded access to vulnerable people;

2.  appeals to all components of the Movement to urge States to take all necessary steps, both nationally and internationally, without prejudice to the Fundamental Principles, to maximize the security and the safety of humanitarian workers;

3.  reaffirms the obligation, under international humanitarian law, of parties to armed conflicts to respect and protect relief work and in particular personnel engaged in relief operations;

4.  reaffirms the obligation of the States party to the Geneva Conventions of August 12, 1949 to adopt national legislation protecting the red cross and red crescent emblems and the need to broaden awareness of the protective significance of these emblems by the States and by the components of the Movement;

5.  reminds all components of the Movement of the necessity to adhere strictly to the Fundamental Principles in all their actions , of their obligations under Resolution 9 of the 1995 Council of Delegates and of the need to promote clear and consistent humanitarian principles and standards among all humanitarian agencies providing assistance and protection;

6.  strongly recommends that all components of the Movement further develop recruitment and training policies and activities, as well as improve their communication and information networks on these issues;

7.  recommends that all components of the Movement working in the field seek and rely more on informed local knowledge of the safety and security situation;

8.  expresses its deepest sympathy to the families of the murdered Red Cross and Red Crescent staff and volunteers.

 6. Follow-up:  

decides to continue placing a regular item on its agenda devoted to the promotion of activities aimed at fostering peace and achieving greater respect for the rules of international humanitarian law and the fundamental rights of the individual.