Activity report 2000-2003 of the Empress Shôken Fund and revision of the regulations for the Empress Shôken Fund
Report prepared by the Joint Commission of the Empress Shôken Fund, 28th International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent, Geneva, 2 to 6 December 2003
The Empress Shôken Fund was established in 1912 when H M the Empress Shôken presented Yen 100,000 in Japanese gold to the Red Cross to promote activities by National Societies. In 1934, a second gift from H M the Empress and H M the Dowager Empress of Japan brought the Fund up to Yen 200,000. The value of Fund's capital now stands at CHF 10.5 million. The purpose of the Fund is to support National Society projects related to disaster preparedness, health, youth, blood, social welfare and the dissemination of the humanitarian ideals of the Red Cross and Red Crescent.
The Fund is administered by the Joint Commission, which decides on the annual allocation of grants and oversees its financial management. The Commission has continued to meet annually under the chairmanship of Mrs Liselotte Kraus-Gurny (ICRC). A new secretary, Ms Christine South (Federation), was appointed in July 2003 since Mr Alistair Henley took up a new position as Head of Regional Delegation in Beijing. (Mr Henley was the Secretary from early 1998 until June 2003). The other members of the Commission are Mr Ibrahim Osman and Mr Jean-Claude Crêpy (Federation), and Ms Viviane Cagneux and Ms Jacqueline Hugentobler (ICRC).
On 11 April each year, the anniversary of the death of the Empress Shôken, the Joint Commission announces the allocation of grants to the National Societies whose projects have been selected from amongst those submitted by 31 December the previous year. During the period 2000-2003, grants were made to 47 National Societies (for details see following sections of this report). The majority of the projects were in the areas of disaster preparedness, first aid, social welfare and youth. Funds were provid ed for training activities, equipment and vehicles linked to these areas. The Commission ensures an appropriate regional distribution in the selection of projects and a balanced allocation between human resource development, equipment and vehicle needs.
Although the Fund now receives about 50 requests each year, the Commission continues to stress the need for good quality, well presented submissions. It is rather unfortunate that in 2002 the crisis in the world's stock markets has had a negative effect on the level of funds available to be allocated. (In 2003 CHF 295,500 was allocated.) The Commission encourages National Societies to contact the Federation and the ICRC country and regional delegations for consultations when preparing projects.
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