The ICRC delegation in Brussels
The ICRC’s office in Brussels covers the institutions of the European Union, the Council of Europe, the OSCE, NATO, the NATO Parliamentary Assembly and major European armed forces. For decision-makers in these bodies, the ICRC is the main reference point for neutral and independent humanitarian action.
The Belgian capital is home to the main institutions of the European Union – the Council, the Parliament and the European Commission – and to NATO. The ICRC's Brussels office also maintains relations with organizations elsewhere in Europe, including the Council of Europe and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).
The ICRC conducts relations with the European Union at the highest level, focusing on the presidency and on the commissioners and others responsible for external relations, development and humanitarian aid. The president of the ICRC and other senior personnel pay regular visits to EU institutions to promote international humanitarian law and ensure that the EU understands and supports the ICRC’s activities and mandate.
The aims are to ensure that the EU takes account of the ICRC's priorities and concerns in such contexts as Afghanistan and Somalia, and that the EU's policies and activities reflect the importance of neutral and independent humanitarian action. To help achieve this, the ICRC has helped the European Commission set up a consensus on humanitarian aid, emphasizing the importance of independence, impartiality and neutrality in humanitarian action.
Dialogue with the Commission’s directorate-general for humanitarian aid (ECHO) focuses on specific contexts where both organizations are active. Both organizations are communicating with decision-makers, opinion-formers and young people.
European Parliament sub-committees invite the ICRC to contribute on human rights, defence and security.
NATO's Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) and the ICRC hold discussions on legal, operational and training issues. In addition, the ICRC provides expertise for training and briefing sessions on the application of international humanitarian law in conflicts such as Afghanistan, while dialogue continues on the role and relevance of IHL in other NATO operations.
The Council of Europe’s work on human rights, the rule of law and democracy is of direct interest to the ICRC, with issues including the Council’s decisions on missing persons and their families in Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia.
While promoting IHL in civil society is mainly the task of national Red Cross and Red Crescent societies, the ICRC supports their work through its participation in think tanks and seminars, and through involvement with academic institutions, such as the College of Europe.
The ICRC works closely with National Societies, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and the Red Cross/EU office in Brussels on such issues as refugees, migration, asylum seekers and disaster management.