International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement action in favour of refugees and internally displaced persons
Report summary and Resolution 4, Council of Delegates, November 2001
Displaced woman, Somalia, “People on War” consultation, ICRC, 1999.
In recent years, tens of millions of people have been forcibly uprooted and displaced by armed conflict, violations of international humanitarian law and human rights, and natural and technological disasters.
The Council and the International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent have addressed the issue of refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) on numerous occasions in the past, but while the Movement has significantly expanded its refugee and IDP activities, existing Movement policy has not always been properly applied by the components, in particular as regards coordination and cooperation within the Movement. Moreover, numerous international organizations have increased their commitment to IDPs in recent years.
In view of these developments, it is imperative that the Movement agree and implement a rational and coherent strategy governing its response to the needs of refugees and IDPs.
The report before the Council of Delegates identifies the principal needs of refugees and IDPs in situations of armed conflict and of peace, and the Movement’s response to such needs. The report also touches upon the needs of certain other categories of displaced person, including the long-term displaced, persons who have left the countryside in favour of towns, and “economic migrants”. The issue of migration will be one of the greatest challenges for the Movement over the next 50 year s.
On the basis of this review, the report identifies the following five principal issues on which the Movement should focus its attention in coming years.
1. The improvement of communication and coordination within the Movement
This is a general challenge for the Movement. The Movement must achieve efficient and continuous exchange of information among the various components and between headquarters and the field.
2. The allocation of responsibility within the Movement for refugees and IDPs in states experiencing armed conflict
The Seville Agreement clearly designates the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) as lead agency in situations of armed conflict, internal strife and their direct results. There may be circumstances in which the ICRC needs to focus on the priority needs of the refugees and IDPs closest to the conflict area, often in conjunction with the National Society, while there may be other displaced persons at a distance from the theatre of hostilities who are also in urgent need of assistance. Within the framework of the Seville Agreement, the components of the Movement should find ways of dealing with such situations in the field.
3. Coordination and cooperation with other humanitarian agencies
Coordination among humanitarian organizations is the only way to avoid duplication of effort or gaps in response, to prevent situations from deteriorating, and to ensure that the effects of work with and for refugees and IDPs are long-lasting. The components of the Movement must understand the roles and mandates of other national and international humanitarian agencies and promote real coordination among organizations and States that take part in humanitarian relief efforts.
4. Operational interaction between components of the Movement and other humanitarian agencies: respect for the Fundamental Principles
Often, National Societies enter into agreements with “external” humanitarian agencies, whereby they act as implementing partners. The relationship between National Societies and the organizations with which they are working may raise the following issues linked to the preservation of the identity and independence of the National Society:
if the agreement fails to take existing Movement policy into account and an armed conflict or internal disturbance develops, it may be impossible for the National Society to act in accordance with the agreed allocation of roles and responsibilities within the Movement;
use of the UN emblem and vehicles: this would be in violation of Movement rules and the Fundamental Principles, and could also cause the public to confuse the Movement with UN agencies;
use of armed escorts: under UN rules, which the National Society may be required to apply as implementing partner, armed escorts may be compulsory – but in most cases they are prohibited by Movement rules.
5. Proper identification of the needs of refugees and IDPs and the provision of a global response.
Such a response should address all stages of displacement – from prevention to return – as well as the needs of the displaced population, local communities and host communities.
Movement Action in favour of Refugees and
Internally Displaced Persons
The Council of Delegates,
Indonesia, Borneo, Central Kalimantan, Sampit. Mobile health post managed by the Indonesian Red Cross Society.
03/2001 © CICR /Arista Idris
expressing its deep concern about the need to improve protection and assistance to the tens of millions of persons who have been forcibly uprooted and displaced by armed conflict, violations of international humanitarian law and human rights and natural or other human-induced disasters,
welcoming the document prepared by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (International Federation) entitled “Movement Action in Favour of Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons” (Document CD2001/6/1),
recalling and reaffirming the resolutions adopted by the International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent (Resolution XXI, Manila 1981; Resolution XVII, Geneva 1986, Resolution 4A, Geneva 1995 and Goal 2.3 of the Plan of Action of the 27th International Conference, Geneva 1999) as well as the Resolutions adopted by the Council of Delegates (Resolution 9, Budapest 1991 and Resoluti on 7, Birmingham 1993),
recalling that in situations of armed conflict refugees and internally displaced persons are protected by international humanitarian law, recalling also the protection afforded by refugee law, human rights law and national law and encouraging all components of the Movement, in accordance with their mandates, to take appropriate measures to ensure that States are aware of their responsibilities under international humanitarian law, refugee law, human rights law as well as national law applicable to refugees and internally displaced persons,
emphasising the importance of respect for international humanitarian law for the prevention of displacement,
noting the need for the components of the Movement to agree upon and implement a coherent strategy for ensuring a predictable response to the needs of refugees and internally displaced persons , while retaining a global approach based on a response to needs rather than on categories of persons,
noting further the requirements that all activities carried out by the components of the Movement in favour of refugees and internally displaced persons be in accordance
with their respective mandates as outlined in the Statutes of the Movement and the Seville Agr eement and in respect of the Fundamental Principles of the Movement,
Movement response to the needs of refugees and internally displaced persons
1. calls upon the ICRC, the International Federation and National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies National Societies, in accordance with their respective mandates, to seek to ensure at all times that the Movement’s response adopts a global approach, addressing both the needs of refugees and internally displaced persons — whenever possible, by appropriately addressing all stages of displacement, from prevention to return — and also the needs of the resident population in order to ensure respect for the Principle of Impartiality at all times. In particular such a response should take into account:
the need for protection, assistance, tracing, family reunification and durable solutions such as return, local settlement, or resettlement in a third country;
the specific needs of different groups within populations of refugees and internally displaced persons, as well as their different needs at different stages of displacement;
the need for short terms interventions and long-term solutions;
the need to involve refugees and internally displaced persons in planning and implementing programmes for their own benefit;
the needs of host and local communities;
the need for burden sharing within the Movement to assist National Societies where responding to displacement is beyond their individual capacities;
the need to develop a strong advocacy platform with common Movement positions;
Coordination and cooperation within the Movement
2 . requests the ICRC and the International Federation to develop a strategy to address the issues and challenges identified in Section VI of the above-mentioned document (CD 2001/6/1) by means of a regular and efficient exchange of information between the various components of the Movement as well as between the headquarters and the field;
3. recognises that there may be circumstances in which the ICRC, as lead agency in situations of armed conflict, must focus on the priority needs of refugees and internally displaced persons who find themselves closest to areas of conflict, while there may be displaced persons located at a distance from the theatre of hostilities who may also be in dire need of assistance; and urges the ICRC, in consultation with the International Federation and National Societies, to develop, within the framework of the Seville Agreement, operational solutions to such situations;
4. calls on National Societies to support ICRC and/or International Federation programmes in favour of refugees and internally displaced persons mobilising public as well as government support and coordinating their action with the lead agency to ensure the most effective Movement response;
Coordination and cooperation with other humanitarian actors
5. requests the ICRC, the International Federation and National Societies jointly and individually, in accordance with their respective mandates, to continue to closely co-ordinate their activities in this area and promote real coordination with other humanitarian actors, aiming to achieve a coherent approach by the components of the Movement in their relations with other humanitarian actors to achieve greater complementarity in their activities;
6. urges National Societies to ensure that their activities in favour of refugees and internally displaced persons are carried out in respect of the Fundamental Principles of the Movement and existing policy at all times, and particularly when they are acting as implementing partners for other humanitarian actors;
7. reminds National Societies of their obligation to inform the International Federation and/or the ICRC of any negotiations likely to lead to a formal agreement between them and any agency of the United Nations or any other international organisation. The International Federation and/or the ICRC will assist National Societies in negotiations likely to lead to an agreement with United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and must concur with the terms of any such agreement in order to ensure coherence and complementarity;
8 . requests that the ICRC and the International Federation jointly initiate a process of consultation with the UNHCR with a view to clarifying the terms upon which the components of the Movement engage in cooperation with UNHCR, and to report thereon to the next Council of Delegates;
Development of Movement Strategy
9. calls upon the ICRC and the International Federation to further develop proposals for Movement strategy on refugees and internally displaced persons, in consultation with National Societies, and to report to the next Council of Delegates;
10. further calls upon the International Federation, in consultation with National Societies to develop proposals for a plan of action on other aspects of population movement. This plan of action will address, inter alia, migration and resultant vulnerability, migrants in irregular situations, and action to address discrimination and xenophobia. The International Federation will report thereon to the next session of its General Assembly.
Adopted by the Council of Delegates, November 2001