The 29th International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent, Geneva, 20–22 June 2006: challenges and outcome
31-03-2007 Article, International Review of the Red Cross, No. 865, by François Bugnion
On 8 December 2005, the Diplomatic Conference on the emblem, convened by the Swiss government as the depositary of the Geneva Conventions and their Additional Protocols, adopted by ninety-eight votes to twenty-seven, with ten abstentions, the Protocol additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949, and relating to the Adoption of an Additional Distinctive Emblem (Protocol III).
While it was regrettable that the international community became divided over the issue, the adoption of Protocol III was nevertheless an important success and marked a decisive step towards resolving a question that had long prevented the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement from reaching the universality to which it aspired and improving a situation that was perceived as deeply unfair in some countries and various communities throughout the world.
In the explanations of vote that followed the adoption of Protocol III, several delegations expressed their regret that the treaty had been adopted by vote and that the inte rnational community was divided over an instrument of international humanitarian law. A number of delegations that had voted against adopting the draft protocol were keen to emphasize, however, that their opposition was not aimed at the protocol itself but had to do with the timing and with the situation in the Middle East. Others stressed that although they had voted against the adoption of Protocol III, their countries would respect the new distinctive emblem if it were adopted by other countries.
Despite the late hour, twenty-seven heads of delegation signed Protocol III during the brief signing ceremony that followed the closing of the Diplomatic Conference on 8 December 2005 in the early hours of the morning.