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Reinforcing Red Cross / Red Crescent cooperation in emergencies: the Seville Agreement


The Seville Agreement of 1997 provides a framework for effective cooperation and partnership between members of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. ICRC is lead agency in time of conflict.

" Seville Agreement " - in full, the Agreement on the Organization of the International Activities of the Components of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement - read the full text .


The agreement applies to the international relief and development activities of national Red Cross and Red Crescent societies, their International Federation and the ICRC (see Art. 1). It includes activities carried out by the national societies themselves   without the participation of either the ICRC or the Federation, but   does not apply to the work of national societies on the home front (blood banks, community health services, social welfare programmes, and so on).

The agreement is about active cooperation, and not merely about the division of labour between the Movement's components. It is about using their distinct but complementary statutory roles and capacities in a cooperative manner in order to achieve common goals.

 New concepts  

The Seville Agreement organizes the international activities of the Movement on the basis of two new concepts: lead role and lead agency :

  •  lead role means the assignment of specific areas of competence to each component whatever the situation   (for example, the Federation Secretariat has a lead role in the development of national societies, whereas the ICRC has a lead role in the dissemination of international humanitarian law);

  •  lead agency means that in a specific situation one of the components is given responsibility for directing and coordinating all the Movement's international relief activities (see Art. 4).

 ICRC as lead agency  

The ICRC acts as lead agency in situations of international and non-international armed conflicts, internal strife and their direct results (see Art. 5.3);   it then assumes general and specific responsibilities for the general direction and co-ordination of international relief operations (see Art. 6), as set out below:


 General responsibilities  


  • to define the general objectives of the international relief operation based on access to the victims and on an impartial assessment of their needs

  • to direct the implementation of these objectives

  • to ensure that all actions within the relief operation are effectively coordinated

  • to establish appropri ate mechanisms of consultation with Red Cross and Red Crescent partners

  • to coordinate international Red Cross and Red Crescent relief operations with the humanitarian activities of other organizations (governmental or non-governmental) where this is in the interest of the victims and is in accordance with the Fundamental Principles

  • to act as a spokesman for the international relief action and to formulate the Red Cross and Red Crescent partners'response to public interest

  • to mobilize financial resources for the relief operation and to launch appeals integrating when necessary other directly or indirectly related Red Cross and Red Crescent activities

  • to ensure that the resources mobilized for an international relief operation are managed in a sound and efficient manner by the operating and the participating National Societies

  • to promote, by means of project delegations, bilateral or multilateral cooperation agreements between participating and operating National Societies

 Specific responsibilities  

  • to establish and maintain relations and contacts with all the parties to the conflict and take any steps necessary for the conduct of international relief operations for victims, in accordance with the relevant provisions of international humanitarian law and in compliance with the Fundamental Principles of independence, neutrality and impartiality

  • to assume ultimate responsibility for international relief operations vis-à-vis the parties to the conflict and the community of States party to the Geneva Conventions

  • to define and ensure the application of any measure which may prove necessary to guarantee, to the greatest extent possible, the physical safety of personnel engaged in relief operations in the field

  • to ensure respect for the rules in force relating to the use of the red cross and red crescent emblems for protective purposes

  • to draw up, in consultation with the National Societies concerned, public statements relating to the progress of the relief operation