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International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent

09-11-2011 Overview

The International Conference is the supreme deliberative body of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. It brings together all the components of the Movement and the States Parties to the Geneva Conventions. It normally meets once every four years. The next meeting, the 31st, is scheduled for November 2011.

The International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent is a unique event. It brings together the world’s largest humanitarian network and the world’s governments in a conference to debate major humanitarian challenges. Occurring every four years, it is an unparalleled event in the humanitarian calendar.

On the Red Cross side, the Conference is attended by the ICRC, the International Federation and the187 national Red Cross and Red Crescent societies. On the government side, all 194 States that are party to the Geneva Conventions attend. In addition, there are observers from other humanitarian organizations, the UN system and National Societies in formation or awaiting recognition.

The Conference endeavours to foster unity within the Movement. It debates important humanitarian issues and adopts resolutions that guide its participants in carrying out humanitarian activities. It promotes respect for, and contributes to the development of international humanitarian law (IHL).

In its deliberations, the Conference is always guided by the Fundamental Principles of the Movement: - humanity, impartiality, neutrality, independence, voluntary service, unity and universality.

Because of the wide participation, the International Conference has considerable influence in global humanitarian affairs. It cannot, however, direct the action of any of its participants, all of which are independent actors.

A body known as the Standing Commission of the Red Cross and Red Crescent establishes the programme for each Conference and prepares a provisional agenda that is submitted to the Council of Delegates that meets prior to every Conference.

The Standing Commission acts as the trustee of the International Conference between meetings and is assisted in preparing the conferences by the ICRC and the International Federation.

It has nine members, five from National Societies who are elected by the International Conference, and two ex-officio members each from the ICRC and International Federation.

The current members of the Standing Commission for the period 2007-2011 are:

Dr Massimo Bara (Italy), Dr Mohammed Al-Hadid (Jordan), Adama Diarra (Mali), Steven E. Carr (United States) and Eamon Courtenay (Belize), each elected from National Societies in their personal capacities.

The four ex-officio members are currently the president of the ICRC, Dr Jakob Kellenberger, the president of the International Federation, Mr Tadateru Konoé, the ICRC’s director of international law, Philip Spoerri, and the Federation’s secretary general, Mr Bekele Geleta.

The last International Conference, the 30th, met in Geneva in 2007 and was chaired by Mandisa Kalako-Williams of the South African Red Cross.  She was assisted by vice-chairs from the governments of Chile and the Netherlands and from the National Societies of Switzerland and Syria.

The officers of the Conference are proposed by the Council of Delegates on advice from the Standing Commission supported by the ICRC and the Federation.

The Conference always aims to reach decisions by consensus, but does occasionally vote on resolutions, each State, National Society, the ICRC and the Federation having one vote each.


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© ICRC