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Joint Working Group on the Emblems: statement by Steven Davey

30-06-2000 Article, International Review of the Red Cross, No. 838

Geneva, 13-14 April 2000

 Statement by Stephen Davey, Under Secretary General, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies  

Madame President, distinguished delegates,

As you know, the Federation Secretariat has worked closely with yourself, ICRC and other members of the Standing Commission in preparation for this meeting. Therefore, I am happy to support the proposals put forward by Mr. Bugnion with regards to a solution based on an additional emblem and achieved through a third protocol.

Rather than repeating the case put forward by Mr. Bugnion, I will address two related issues:

  • the position and perspectives particular to the International Federation,

  • a reflection on the challenge facing the Joint Working Group and the process following the meeting.

 Firstly , the Federation’s position and perspectives:

  • The Federation President and Secretary General identify this work on the emblem as a priority issue for the Federation.

  • This issue has been too long divisive, and directly impacts the membership of the Federation.

  • The possibilities for improved protection offered by a third emblem, in a world wracked by ethnic and religious tension, are vital.

  • The solution found must respect the Geneva Conventions and the Statutes of the Movement.

A solution not based on respect for the Conventions and Statutes risks further division within the Federation and the Movement and the diminishing of our work for victims of conflict and disaster, the most vulnerable.

The Federation Governing Board, which meets in early May, looks forward to receiving the report of the Joint Working Group as a basis for its own discussions on the way forward.

 Secondly , I would like to reflect on the challenge facing the Joint Working Group and the process following the meeting.

The International Conference of last year took a vital decision on the emblem by consensus, thus with the support of all States and National Societies. It gave a mandate to this Joint Working Group. The Joint Working Group, in turn, needs to take on this work in a positive manner in response to the decision of the International Conference.

Much analysis, in Geneva and elsewhere, has gone into the preparation of this meeting. The solution proposed is based on the idea that this is the best solution, in order:

  • to respond to our specific mandate - a comprehensive solution, and

  • to take account of the reality of a changing world in which an additional emblem responds to the needs of States and National Societies facing difficulties with the present emblem.

But the resolution of the International Conference also recognizes that the solution be found as rapidly as possible and that it be acceptable to all parties.

Do we know that an additional emblem solution, or any other solution - will be acceptable to all parties? We have positive signals from our consultati ons to date that the third emblem solution is more positively viewed than some years ago. But we do not know for certain. However if we, as the Joint Working Group, cannot give a clear signal as to our commitment to a well founded solution, others will have no direction to which to respond and will surely be deeply disappointed in our efforts.

We need to move forward as rapidly as possible. Following this meeting the consultation process with States and National Societies will then be vital. We will need to both focus on specific situations and address the wider constituency of States and National Societies. We are committed to the effort. But to do so we need the clearest possible signal from the meeting of the Joint Working Group as to the way forward.

I hope, therefore, Madame President, that the meeting of the Joint Working Group will be able to respond positively to the proposals outlined with regard to a third emblem and then create the base for the further consultation and work in which we will all need to play a part in the weeks and months ahead.

Thank you, Madame President.

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