Reunion – Director General’s visit
Yves Daccord, Director General of the ICRC, visited India in March this year. Aimed to strengthen relations with New Delhi and also seek strategic engagement with the Indian government with regard to neighbouring key operational contexts such as Afghanistan and Myanmar, this was the first ever visit of a Director General to the New Delhi delegation. His arrival also launched the Delegation’s activities commemorating the 150th anniversary of ICRC’s humanitarian action with a special focus on the work performed in India.
Mr Daccord’s five-day trip was marked by a series of meetings with senior government officials, diplomats and independent think tank representatives wherein he discussed the “more pro-active” ways in which India can participate in the organisation’s work worldwide.
The Director General also addressed audiences at three leading Indian think tanks in the city. The first was at the Observer Research Foundation, where he spoke of the Arab Spring and future humanitarian challenges for the ICRC. This was followed by his visit at the United Service Institution of India where he shared his experiences with serving and retired professionals from the armed forces, academicians, and researchers on Afghanistan and ICRC’s future challenges, especially in light of the 2014 transition. Both the sessions were well attended attracting a diverse representation from different stakeholders. The highlight of the sessions was the comprehensive discussions that followed. The third opportunity was through a round table chaired by the Director General at the Indian Council of World Affairs attended by former Indian diplomats.
While the sessions at the think tanks were geared more towards sharing ICRC experiences from its top two global operations – Afghanistan and Syria - the meetings with government officials were focussed on understanding the challenges and needs of India on ICRC’s work both in India and in the world. The Director General’s visit also generated interest among the India media and he was interviewed by some of the country’s leading news agencies and media houses.
During the trip, Mr Daccord also met top officials of the Indian Red Cross Society (IRCS) and the Red Cross Movement partners in India. Talking about his expectations from the Director General’s visit, Dr S.P. Agarwal, Secretary General, IRCS said, “we are happy that the Director General’s visit engaged us in some serious discussions. Though we have worked together since 1915 or so, we certainly wish to strengthen our partnership and learn more lessons from each other.”
The Director General’s visit concluded with the launch of a photo exhibition on “150 years of humanitarian action” at the Swiss Embassy in New Delhi. Attended by senior diplomats, academicians and journalists, the exhibition, which will be shown throughout the year in different universities in India, is a celebration of ICRC’s humanitarian journey over the last 150 years. Speaking during the occasion, Dr. Linus von Castelmur, Ambassador of Switzerland said, “the Embassy of Switzerland in India is honoured to be associated with the ICRC’s anniversary celebrations, in a very concrete but modest way. For this achievement, I congratulate ICRC and wish them well for the years to come!”
For more on the Director General’s visit, read his interview to the editorial team.