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31st International Conference 2011: Resolution 4 - Furthering the auxiliary role

01-12-2011 Resolution

Furthering the auxiliary role: Partnership for stronger National Societies and volunteering development

31st International Conference of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, Geneva, Switzerland, 28 November-1 December 2011

The 31st International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent (International Conference),

In terms of

(I) Furthering the auxiliary role and strengthening National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (National Societies):

recalling  Resolution 2 of the 30th International Conference (Geneva, 26-30 November 2007) whereby States and National Societies, the latter as auxiliaries to their public authorities in the humanitarian field, enjoy a specific and distinctive partnership at all levels, entailing mutual responsibilities and benefits, and based on international and national laws, in which the State and the National Society agree on the areas in which the latter supplements or substitutes for public humanitarian services,

recalling that National Societies, in the fulfilment of their auxiliary role, may provide valuable support to their respective public authorities, including in the implementation of their obligations under international law (in particular, international humanitarian law), and by cooperation in related tasks, such as health and social services, disaster management and restoring family links,

  1. calls upon National Societies and their respective public authorities at all levels to pursue and enhance balanced partnerships with clear and mutual responsibilities;
  2. encourages National Societies to initiate or pursue a dialogue, as required, with their national authorities with a view to strengthening their legal base in domestic law, in accordance with the standards of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement (Movement), through sound Red Cross Red Crescent laws, so as to strengthen their auxiliary role in the humanitarian field and to formalize the commitment of national authorities to respect the duty and ability of National Societies to abide by the Fundamental Principles of the Movement in particular the principle of independence;
  3. requests States, National Societies, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the International Federation  of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (International Federation) to enhance their work to strengthen the legal base of National Societies, specifically in regard to the statutes of National Societies in view of creating more effective, accountable and transparent National Societies that are able to adhere at all times to the Fundamental Principles, and welcomes the continued commitment of National Societies to achieve this goal;
  4. calls upon States to create the conditions for more favourable and effective access by National Societies to people in need, which is a primary challenge in organizing a sustainable response; 
  5. encourages relevant government departments and other donors to provide a predictable and regular flow of resources adapted to the operational needs of their National Societies;
  6. stresses in this regard the importance of States’ long-term support and resourcing to contribute to the good functioning and development of National Societies as their auxiliaries in the humanitarian field as appropriate to ensure relevance of National Society activities within their national context, ability to undertake core functions, such as emergency response, as well as National Society stability, adaptability, accountability through sustainable organizational development;
  7. invites the International Federation and the ICRC in consultation with States and National Societies, to make available and further develop relevant information material for National Societies, the public authorities and other interested bodies, including guidance on partnerships with public administration, legal advice and best practices on Red Cross Red Crescent law with examples of tax exemptions and specific provisions on resource distribution.

(II)Volunteering development

recognizing that volunteers have been at the core of the Movement since it was first conceived of in 1859 and that today, as ever, they are central to all the activities of the Movement , contributing to the success of National Societies , and assisting millions of vulnerable people in times of greatest need,

acknowledging thereby that volunteer development is a key prerequisite to strengthening National Societies, an essential element of their operational efficiency and of the role they play as auxiliaries to the public authorities in the humanitarian field,

recalling the Fundamental Principle of voluntary service, and the centrality of volunteering and the spirit of voluntary service within the Movement,

recognizing the outstanding contribution of 13.1 million Red Cross and Red Crescent volunteers to meeting the needs of vulnerable people, and the opportunity for public authorities at all levels to take positive actions to understand and improve the environment within which volunteers operate in order for National Societies to be able to increase the scale and the scope of volunteer service delivery,

recalling the Youth Declaration adopted by the Red Cross and Red Crescent volunteers at the commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the battle of Solferino in 2009; reiterating their commitment to promote the cause of humanity worldwide,

recognizing the wider benefits of volunteering within society, and that public authorities have a responsibility to deepen understanding of the value of and take practical measures to encourage volunteering,

understanding that one such practical measure includes developing applicable legal and policy contexts in which volunteering  occurs,

recalling that the 27th International Conference in 1999 recognized the importance of volunteers for National Societies, and Resolution 1, Annex 2 (Plan of Action). Final Goal 3.3 para. 13(b) placed the responsibility on States to “review and where necessary, introduce or update legislation so as to facilitate the efficient work of relevant voluntary organizations,”

recalling the pledge by the International Federation at the 27th International Conference to inter alia, “cooperate with governments to broaden the existing legal, fiscal and political bases for volunteering, and to mobilize increased public support,”

recalling the guidance document issued in 2004 by the International Federation, the Inter-Parliamentary Union and the United Nations Volunteers “Volunteerism and Legislation: A Guidance Note” and its valuable contribution,

noting with appreciation the work done by the United Nations Volunteers in undertaking a study in 2009, “Laws and Policies Affecting Volunteerism Since 2001” culminating in the United Nations Volunteers 2010 guidance note on “Drafting and Implementing Volunteerism Laws and Policies”,

noting also with appreciation the International Federation’s complementary study on the specific legal issues arising in regard to the particular context of volunteers working in emergency and disaster situations,

understanding that in order to ensure a protective and enabling legal environment for volunteering to function, in all settings including emergencies and disaster situations, the following aspects of national volunteering law and policy are critical,

i. appropriate legal recognition of volunteers/volunteering activities,

ii. clarity with regard to employment and volunteering,

iii. laws facilitating volunteering  from all sectors of society, regardless of employment status, gender, age, and any other forms of discrimination,

iv. appropriate protection for volunteers including clarity in responsibilities and liabilities and assurances for the health and safety of volunteers,

noting the Declaration of the 1st Global Volunteer Conference jointly organized by the United Nations Volunteers and the International Federation as part of the 10th anniversary of the International Year of Volunteers recognizing the role of volunteers in contributing toward the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and sustainable development,

1. in this regard calls upon States and National Societies to create and maintain an enabling environment for volunteering. In particular, respective public authorities at all levels are encouraged to:

a. in light of the work done by the United Nations Volunteers and International Federation, undertake a review of relevant national law and policies and work to strengthen such frameworks as appropriate;

b. ensure safe access for Red Cross and Red Crescent volunteers to all vulnerable groups in their respective countries;

c. integrate volunteer capacity into domestic emergency response plans at all levels;

d. promote volunteering through measures encouraging citizens’ engagement in such activities,

e. deepen their understanding of the role and impact that Red Cross and Red Crescent volunteers have in national social and economic development, as well as in responding to crises.

f. facilitate the voluntary work of their National Society and support its efforts to mobilize recruit, train and retain volunteers;

2. encourages National Societies to include adequate provisions defining the status, as well as the rights and duties of volunteers in their statutory and constitutional base instruments.