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Council of Delegates, 1-2 December 1995


Extract from 26th International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement: Daily Bulletin No. 1


Opening of the Council of Delegates

Future of the Movement and functional cooperation between its different components

Henry Dunant medals awarded

Report on the activities of the Henry Dunant Institute

ICRC Finance   Commission

Final session

 Opening of the Council of Delegates  

On 1 December, as Chairman of the Standing Commission, Botho Prinz zu Sayn-Wittgenstein-Hohenstein opened the meeting of the Council of Delegates. Before proceeding to the Election of the Chairman of the Council, Prince Botho reiterated the Movement's basic mission : assisting the most vulnerable. He also stressed the necessity for solidarity and harmony within the Movement. Prince Botho also noted the Movement's moral right to ask States to support the work of the Red Cross and Red Crescent.

The election of Council officials then followed. Mr. Cornelio Sommaruga, Dr. Mohamed El Hadid, Madame Yolande Camporini and Madame Kathleen Graff were elected respectively to the posts of Chairman, Vice Chairman and Secretaries, by acclamation.

The Chairman of the Council of Delegates reiterated the importance of preserving the Movement's internal cohesion. " Nothing we do as a Movement should be done for ourselves. We exist only for others since our common mission is to help the helpless. The world today needs a strong Movement, with a strong message of humanit y " , said Mr. Sommaruga.

The Council's agenda was then adopted.

Following comments on the opportunities offered by the International Conference to dialogue on an equal footing with States and mobilise the international community around all victims of conflict and vulnerable people, and on the role of National Societies in pushing for appropriate measures to be taken in their respective countries, the Conference agenda was adopted.

Ambassador Jean-Daniel Biéler, Commissioner of the International Conference, brought the Council up to date on participation issues.

The Council of Delegates, reaffirmed its commitment to hold the Conference and appealed to all participants to safeguard its uniquely humanitarian character.

The President of the Commission on the Red Cross and Red Crescent and Peace, Mr. Maurice Aubert, presented the Commission's final report and recommendations on the Movement's contribution to peace in the world. The Commission's resolution calling for all components of the Movement to work towards the prevention of conflicts by strengthening understanding between different cultures and reiterating the importance of safeguarding the rights of children, especially those who are exploited, mistreated or tortured, was tabled.

Several National Societies then commented, mostly to approve, the resolution. After an amendment concerning child prostitution was introduced, the resolution and a changed version of the amendment were adopted.

In his final comments, Mr. Aubert pointed out that human rights and conflict prevention were to peace what hygiene was to health. He reiterated the importance of the worldwide network of National Societies in helping the most vulnerable.

 Future of the Movement and functional cooperation between its different components  

The Council of Delegates, by a resolution adopted at its meeting in Birmingham in 1993, established the Policy and Planning Advisory Commission to conduct a study on the future of the Movement. It was made up of 12 persons from National Societies, the Federation and the ICRC. The resulting Report was presented to the Council of Delegates by the Commission's Chairman, Mr Darrell Jones of the Canadian Red Cross, on 1 December 1995.

Mr Jones made it clear from the beginning that while the Report represented considerable progress in the reflection on the Movement's future, it must be seen as only one stage in a lengthy process. He provided a brief summary of its contents, with particular reference to the enhanced role that his Commission proposed for the Standing Commission, prospects for functional cooperation between the different components of the Movement, and matters relating to the emblem.

As a whole, the Council of Delegates welcomed the conclusions of the Report. The Federation, the ICRC and more than 20 National Societies congratulated the Advisory Commission for its excellent work and its cogent recommendations. The delegations took the floor in turn to support the idea of reinforcing the Standing Commission. They highlighted the significant progress made recently by the Federation and the ICRC in improving their functional cooperation and encouraged the two Geneva-based institutions to pursue their efforts in that area with a view to reaching a new cooperation agreement between all of the components of the Movement, including the National Societies. The delegations recognized the usefulness of re-establishing an Advisory Commission on a temporary basis to carry on with the work begun in 1993, provided it did not duplicate the activities of the Standing Commission.

Observing that the humanitarian challenges currently facing the world are particularly complex, that there is a proliferation of actors in the humanitarian field and that humanitarian action is increasingly prone to political controversy, the Council of Delegates stressed above all the need to strengthen the ties between the different components of the Movement. Only by joining forces and adopting a more united stand can the Movement hope to be at the forefront of humanitarian action.

 Information policy of the Movement  

In their presentation to the Council of Delegates on 2 December, the information heads of the International Federation and the ICRC, Mr Ian Piper and Mr Christian Kornevall, outlined the main points of the information policy of the Movement, approved in 1989, which required updating.

They outlined the priorities in a work plan which will form the basis of action by the Federation and the ICRC over the next few years in the areas of publications, the annual celebration of World Red Cross and Red Crescent Day, new communication technologies, Movement relations with the media and advocacy. They said it was essential for National Societies to support and increase their participation in Movement information projects.

A large number of participants took part in the debate which followed, many encouraging the Geneva institutions to continue their work and others expressing their concerns as National Societies. They emphasized the importance of communications as a key tool for the Movement. Delegates generally approved the draft resolution in favour of the Movement's Information Work Plan for 1995-97. The resolution also calls for the creation of a forum to support the plan. After several amendments were approved, a revised version of the resolution was submitted to the Council of Delegates who, after a few minor changes approved it by acclamation.

 Henry Dunant medals awarded  

Six people, three of them posthumously, have been awarded the Henry Dunant medal for humanitarian service at a ceremony in Geneva on 2 December 1995.

The recipients are:

*Dr. Hugo Ernesto Merino Grijalva, former President of the Ecuadorean Red Cross.

*Mrs. Jacqueline Briot, of the French Red Cross

*Botho Prinz zu Sayn-Wittgenstein-Hohenstein, Chairman of the Standing Commission

*Tunku Tan Sri Mohamed, former Chairman of the Malaysian Red Crescent (posthumously)

*Professor Hans Haug, former President of the Swiss Red Cross, former Vice-President of the International Federation and member of the International Committee of the Red Cross (posthumously)

*Dr. Esmildo Gutierrez Sanchez, former Secretary General of the Cuban Red Cross (posthumously)

The medals, awarded every two years, recognise and reward outstanding services and acts performed on behalf of the Movement. Criteria for receiving the award include incurring risks on behalf of others which endanger life, health and personal freedom. The medal may also be awarded for a long period of service devoted to the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement.

The Henry Dunant Medal is a red cross embossed with the profile of the founder of the Movement, attached to a green ribbon. It takes precedence over other Red Cross badges or decorations.

Since 1969, 61 members of the Movement have been awarded the Henry Dunant Medal, 16 of them posthumously.

 Report on the activities of the Henry Dunant Institute  

Mr George Weber, in his capacity as President of the Executive Committee of the Institute, recalled its 30 years of activity and outlined its current directions. He said the work of the institute fell into two distinct categories. First, its ongoing general activities in the fields of research, training and documentation, and second its specific projects. The Acting Director of the institute, Mr Jiri Toman, said the Institute bridged the gap between the academic world and the Movement. It is there, he said, to respond to the needs and tasks the Movement asked it to address. A large number of delegates expressed their appreciation of the institute and argued for its continued action. A resolution was approved after some amendments. It calls specifically for the Institute's role, priorities and structure to be redefined.

 ICRC Finance Commision  

The Chairman of the Commission on the financing of the ICRC, Mr Markku Niskala called for increased support from National Societies for the activities of the ICRC. He also announced that next year the Commission would study the way it worked with a view to increasing efficiency. The report was distributed to the delegates and was given wide support.

 Final session  

The final session of the Council of Delegates was held on Saturday afternoon 2 December. A number of resolutions were adopted.

After a long debate which was often charged with emotion the delegates reaffirmed their support for the campaign for an early banning of antipersonnel mines. They also gave a mandate to the Movement to put into practice a plan of action which aim s to reinforce through legal and other concrete measures protection and assistance for children in times of war. In particular, the plan of action aims to secure a raising of the minimum age for military recruitment from 15 to 18 years and to give existing child soldiers the necessary support for their rehabilitation into civilian life. In addition the Council decided to reinforce and redefine the role of the Henry Dunant Institute. Finally the delegates supported the existing rules of the Movement on the armed protection of humanitarian assistance and called for the promotion of the Code of Conduct for organisations involved in relief operations in the field.

President Sommaruga concluded the session with the following words: " The International Conference will open in 24 hours. Help us to make sure it is a success and help us preserve the unity of the Movement. I make this appeal on your behalf, on behalf of thousands of volunteers in National Societies but also, and above all for the victims who have such great need of us. "

 This bulletin is for information purposes only. It does not constitute an official record  

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