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Interview – “Everyone here in India is interested in knowing what the ICRC brings to the table”


The biggest democracy in the world – India is seen as a very important peace provider. And as the world increasingly tends to look east, Yves Daccord, Director General of the ICRC visited India in March this year to strengthen the existing relations between the authorities and the ICRC and weave new ones. Sharing his aspirations and expectations from this country, he spoke to us on varied issues including why India is not just another country.

How do you think that ICRC and a country like India can collectively respond to humanitarian assistance, treaties or issues related to Health Care in Danger?  

I think a country like India can play a very important role at the diplomatic level and India can be very successful and important for us in the way it interacts with governments like Afghanistan or Sri Lanka. Not only that, India can also play a very significant role on being the champion of issues like respecting medical workers and the medical missions.  

What is the kind of role that you would like India to play in this ongoing transition of Afghanistan, especially given its presence and influence in the region?

I think it is difficult for ICRC to decide what India should or should not do. But what seems important for me is the fact that India because of its geographical location has a clear understanding of the needs of people in Afghanistan and therefore will play an important role in the transition. In this process, India can also strongly support very neutral, non-partisan, impartial humanitarian actions like ICRC’s so I am expecting India to be a very strong supporter of ICRC in Afghanistan.

How do you see the partnership of the ICRC with IRCS evolving in years to come?

I do see the partnership with IRCS as one that is critical for us. One of my objectives in this trip is to carefully look at how we can work better together in partnership. I also strongly believe that we have to bring in some competencies that we are developing abroad, for e.g., in health, my expectation is that our movement continues to efficiently respond to increasingly more difficult challenges.

We have seen a transition not just in Afghanistan but in the regional dynamics itself. From Sri Lanka to volatile Maldives, Pakistan to tense Bangladesh- given all of that - is the ICRC adjusting its priorities in South Asia because of changes that have happened in the last ten years?

I think it is the job of the ICRC to have the ability to maintain its presence and relevance over time but also to be extra ordinarily adaptable. My sense is, we need to be agile and it is very true for the region. The ICRC, over the last five years has changed its strategy in Nepal and in Sri Lanka and we understand the need to be prepared and be able to put our resources, our knowledge, our expertise where it counts.

Summing up your visit to India, you met so many stakeholders. Can you tell us what has been your impression and expectations from this visit?

I have every big expectation from this visit as well as from this delegation.The ICRC has done some great work in India. And I think we need to bring this relationship with the Indian government to mainly at the highest level. I think India is a great country with some challenges at home. We should find the best way for us to connect and improve the way we work together and have a clear vision that in next 20 years, India will be very central to our work and hope to be central to the humanitarian vision of India.

My experience about India is - people here are very smart. They are very direct and I like that. I had meetings with very senior government officials and everyone here in India is interested to know what the ICRC can bring to the table.


Mr Yves Daccord, Director Genera, ICRC 

Mr Yves Daccord, Director Genera, ICRC
© ICRC / Daljit Singh