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Council of Delegates 2005: Resolution 10

18-11-2005 Resolution

Movement policy for Corporate Sector Partnerships

Council of Delegates of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, Seoul, Republic of Korea, 16-18 November 2005

The Council of Delegates,


recalling Action 17 of the Strategy for the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, adopted by means of Resolution 3 of the 2001 Council of Delegates,    

acknowledging that partnerships with the private sector can help protect and improve the lives of vulnerable people, build awareness of the Movement’s role, and influence corporate behaviour with respect to social issues,
recalling Article 23 of the Regulations on the use of the emblem of the Red Cross or the Red Crescent by the National Societies, adopted by the 1991 Council of Delegates, which requires that a corporate partner in no way be engaged in activities running counter to the Movement’s objectives and principles,
considering that partnerships with the private sector may impact the Movement’s operations and reputation as a neutral and independent humanitarian actor, in particular in situations of armed conflict,
recognizing that a common and harmonized approach to private sector relationships is essential to safeguarding the integrity of the Movement's components and ensuring respect for the emblems,
taking note of the existing decisions on resource mobilization and global income generation, as well as the recommendations and suggestions made by National Societies in the course of extensive testing of the draft Policy and consultations, including that carried out at the 2003 Council of Delegates,
  1. adopts the “International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement Policy for Corporate Sector Partnerships”,[1] whose substantive provisions are included in the Annex to this Resolution;

  2. calls upon all components of the Movement to comply with this Policy when entering into relationships with companies in which the component grants the company the use of its name, emblem/logo or image; 

  3. recognizes that the Policy provides a set of minimum requirements for corporate partnerships which the Movement's components may supplement with more restrictive policy decisions; 

  4. calls upon the Movement's components not to enter into partnerships with companies engaged in activities that run counter to the Movement’s objectives as defined by the Policy's “guiding criteria” and to encourage partnerships with companies meeting the “desirable profile”;

  5. decides that all components of the Movement will assess potential corporate partners using the screening process defined in the Policy;

  6. decides that every corporate partnership will be agreed in writing, as defined in the Policy.


Annex – Resolution 10


Substantive provisions of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement policy for corporate sector partnerships


1 Purpose and scope

1.1 The Policy for Corporate Sector Partnerships (‘Policy’) aims to establish a framework for partnerships between companies and components of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement as herein defined:

1.1.1 The term ‘partnership’ encompasses all relationships between a Movement component and a company, in which the Movement component grants the company the possibility of using its name, emblem/logo or image in its communication and promotional materials, thereby potentially creating a public association of image between the company and the Movement component.[1] ‘Public association of image’ refers to any connection in the mind of the public between the two organizations. Examples of partnerships include:

Sponsorships: Relationships in which a company gives financial support to a component of the Movement for a specific event, programme or project and in return expects public association of image. These are considered to be short-term, event-specific relationships.

Cause-Related Marketing: Relationships in which a company agrees to donate a specific amount of sales revenue (or an equivalent thereof) from a product, service, or brand, to a component of the Movement in return for the public association of its image with that of the Movement. These relationships are often highly advertised “joint promotions,” in which the company persuades the public to buy a product, service, or brand using the Movement component’s name and logo.

Strategic Alliance: Relationships formed between a company and a component of the Movement that are focused on jointly addressing a goal of common interest (e.g., resolving a specific social problem) and involve the public association of image. These relationships are often multifaceted, long-term, and pool the complementary strengths of two organizations.

1.1.2 The term ‘company’ encompasses state-owned enterprises as well as private firms and their foundations. The term ‘corporate’ refers to ‘company’.

1.1.3 The ‘International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement’ (the Movement) is comprised of the International Committee of the Red Cross, all National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and the International Federation Secretariat.


1.2 The Policy applies to partnerships with the corporate sector within individual countries (at local and national levels) and globally.

1.3 The Movement establishes partnerships with companies to encourage their contribution towards protecting and improving the lives of vulnerable people in the countries where they have business interests, and building awareness of the Movement’s role in these countries. These partnerships also provide an opportunity for the Movement to influence corporate behaviour with respect to social issues through dialogue.

1.4 The Policy determines criteria for selecting corporate partners (“selection criteria”), proposes an assessment process to screen companies against these criteria (“screening process”) and defines terms for corporate partnerships (“partnership contracts”). The Policy is intended to maximize the Movement’s opportunities for working with the corporate sector whilst ensuring the protection of its values, reputation and integrity.


2 Statutory framework

2.1 The Policy is derived from the Mission and Fundamental Principles of the Movement, from the Mandates of its components and from the Regulations and Laws governing the use of the Emblem.

Humanitarian Dialogue

2.2 The Statutory Framework encourages partners to enter into relationships within the spirit of open dialogue on humanitarian issues. It also requires the Movement components to include a direct or indirect advocacy component in all partnerships.

2.3 Components of the Movement should encourage companies to behave in a more socially responsible manner. This is particularly important in the case of companies working to improve their image and relationship with civil society. Where appropriate, the partnership can include assistance and support to the company on the development and implementation of its corporate social responsibility strategy.

Laws and Regulations on Emblem Use

2.4 The Red Cross and Red Crescent Emblems are protected under international law (1949 Geneva Conventions and 1977 Additional Protocols) and national law, and are first and foremost an internationally recognized symbol of protection during armed conflicts. Each Movement component is responsible for preserving the Emblem’s unique protective function.

2.5 The 1991 Regulations on the Use of the Emblem,[2] adopted both by the Movement and all States party to the 1949 Geneva Conventions, outline the conditions governing the use of the Emblem by National Societies and their members.

2.6 In no circumstances can the protective and indicative use of the Emblem be compromised and all agreements with companies must comply with these regulations.


3 Selection Criteria

3.1 The Selection Criteria apply to the company with which the Movement component enters into partnership. The Selection Criteria apply to a parent company of a corporate partner only if it has a significant ownership stake or voting power in the corporate partner. The Selection Criteria apply to a subsidiary of the corporate partner only if the corporate partner has a significant ownership stake or voting power in the subsidiary.

3.2 Potential partners are assessed against both guiding and desirable criteria:

3.3 Guiding Criteria

The criteria guiding the components of the Movement in deciding to establish a partnership with a company are as follows: The corporate partner must in no way be engaged knowingly or deliberately in activities running counter to (i) the Movement’s objectives and Fundamental Principles, (ii) principles of international humanitarian law[3] and (iii) internationally recognized standards as embodied in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948, the Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work of 1998, the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination of 1965 and the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women of 1979.

In situations of armed conflict, the components of the Movement shall avoid entering into a corporate partnership that undermines the ability of the Movement to operate, which may be the case if one party to the conflict considers the corporate partner’s activities as partial and controversial.

Consistent with the Movement’s objectives and principles, no component of the Movement shall establish a corporate partnership with a company, a material part of whose business involves the manufacture or sale of arms and ammunition. Other activities that may infringe the Movement’s objectives and principles include cases where a company:

3.3.1 Has as its core business[4] the direct manufacture or sale of products publicly recognized as deleterious to health.

3.3.2 Through its business practices, materially contributes to armed conflicts or natural disasters.

3.3.3 Does not respect materially the local or national laws and regulations of the countries where it operates.

3.3.4 Has major public controversies in the country where the partnership takes place that would undermine the reputation, image or Emblems of the Movement.[5]

3.4 Desirable Profile

All components of the Movement will encourage partnerships with companies:

3.4.1 Which respect the Movement’s humanitarian values and commit to a programme of action to support its work.

3.4.2 Which are leaders in exhibiting corporate social responsibility through policy and practice.

3.4.3 Who would respond positively to input from the Movement component aimed at improving their business practices in a way that promotes social responsibility.

3.4.4 Whose products and services relate to the Movement component’s mission or activity; and who would be the best possible partner in helping the component to achieve the aims, increase its reach and enhance awareness of its work.

3.4.5 Which are committed to volunteer action.

3.4.6 Which promote the education, health and social welfare of their employees to an extent that goes beyond what the law requires.

3.4.7 Which promote responsible production and use of their products and services and adhere to the principles of sustainable development[6].

3.4.8 Which have a positive image, good reputation and a track record of good ethical behaviour.


4 Screening process

4.1 All components of the Movement screen potential corporate partners against the criteria defined in Section 3. All Movement components positively welcome constructive criticism on their partnerships and being screened in a similar manner by any potential corporate partner.

4.2 The potential corporate partner is the point of contact for obtaining information for screening, including information pertaining to relevant parent and subsidiary companies required to meet the Guiding Criteria, as per section 3.

4.3 The decision as to whether a company fulfils the requirements of this Policy is made on the best available information collected from credible sources during the research and takes into account the time period to which data relates.

4.4 Although an organization’s past will be considered as part of this review, its recent performance is most significant. Past performance can be mitigated by more recent commitment to positive change. The component should take account of action by the organization to resolve problems, together with opportunities for the component to assist with this.

4.5 All components of the Movement will continue to monitor the results of the screening and reserve the right to reassess any relationship in the light of new or previously unseen information, as set out in the Partnership Contract.


Screening procedure

4.6 Components will apply the following procedure to all potential partnerships:

4.6.1 As far as possible through shared data systems, find out whether any other Movement component has previously screened the company. Depending on the detail and how recently this information was obtained, further screening may still be required.

4.6.2 Gather information from external sources and from the company itself.[7]

a Obtain the company’s annual report and accounts.

b Consult a minimum of three independent, credible sources, which should include a general search engine, reputable international and local media, and credible and relevant NGOs.

c Invite the company to submit any information they wish to give relating to the selection criteria and their corporate social responsibility agenda.

4.6.3 It is recommended that Movement components also seek the advice of professional, independent, specialized rating agencies, advised by the Federation and the ICRC.

4.6.4 For multinational partnerships[8] the Movement component researching the partnership must inform any other potential stakeholders within the Movement at this stage.

4.6.5 In cases where a Movement component wishes to establish a partnership that involves joint-activities or visibility in a country affected by armed conflict or internal strife, the partnership must be discussed with the ICRC’s head of delegation in that country prior to agreement, to ensure compliance with Guiding Criteria.

4.7 If the screening process reveals that the potential partner does not meet the criteria in 3.3, the Movement component will not pursue the partnership.

4.8 All Movement components will have a clear decision-making process to determine whether to develop a partnership, based on the results of the screening process. It is recommended that a final decision be taken by a senior manager where concerns or controversy remain.


5 Partnership contract

5.1 Every corporate partnership within the scope of this Policy must be agreed in writing. Partnership contracts can be based on the sample Corporate Partnership Contracts for Sponsorships, Cause Related Marketing relationships and Strategic Alliances as provided in the Policy.

5.2 When negotiating partnership contracts the Movement component must bear in mind the value of an association with the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. This value must be reflected in the terms of the agreement and in the financial and non-financial contribution made by the company.

5.3 Mandatory elements for Movement components’ partnership contracts:

5.3.1 All parties to the agreement must be explicitly stated. In particular:

a The corporate partner signing the agreement must be the entity that is undertaking the roles and responsibilities set out in the agreement.

b Each Movement component is a separate legal entity and in order to be a party to the agreement must individually sign it.

5.3.2 The corporate partner will not infringe the Movement’s objectives and principles.

5.3.3 Acknowledgement that the use of the Red Cross and Red Crescent names and emblems will conform to Article 23 of the Regulations on the Use of the Emblem and control of these will be maintained by the Movement component throughout the agreement with the right to review and amend all communications before use.

5.3.4 The company should confirm that its activities do not materially infringe the principles set out in paragraph 3.3.

5.3.5 Termination clauses which allow the Movement component immediate and public withdrawal from the partnership if:

a The company commits a significant breach of the contract, in particular if it no longer fulfils the Guiding Criteria.

b Continued association will bring any component of the Movement into disrepute because of a change in the company’s behaviour or public perception of its practices.

5.3.6 Acknowledgement that partnership between a Movement component and the company should in no way lead to the belief that the Movement or any of its components endorse[9] the company, its products, policies or services.

5.3.7 Acknowledgement that no Movement component can grant formal, openended ‘exclusivity’[10] to any company, or accept limitations on developing partnerships with other companies. In certain instances, granting exclusivity for a specific purpose over a defined period of time may be appropriate within the scope of activities undertaken.

5.3.8 Acknowledgement that the Movement component is under no obligation to buy the products, goods or services of the company as a result of the agreement. Any commercial transaction with the company will be subject to a separate agreement.


5.4 Recommended elements for partnership contracts

5.4.1 The length of the contract/partnership.

5.4.2 The recognition which the Movement component will give the company in return for its support. This recognition will be commensurate with the level of support from the company.

5.4.3 Description of any other potential partners (such as contractors) who may become involved in the partnership. The Movement component may choose to screen any of these partners.

5.4.4 Terms for the handling of unforeseen events and disputes.

5.4.5 Acknowledgement that the company will minimize financial and commercial risks for the Movement component, including potential fiscal and tax issues.

5.4.6 A designated point of contact within the company to manage the partnership.

5.4.7 Acknowledgement that the company cannot assign this contract to another legal entity if it is acquired by another company, goes into voluntary or compulsory liquidation, or if a receiver is appointed over all or part of the business of the company.

5.4.8 For cause related marketing relationships, acknowledgement that the corporate partner will agree to keep (separately) all financial records pertaining to the partnership and to give the Movement component access to these upon request. The Movement component reserves the right to commission an independent audit of the company’s books in relation to the partnership. The audit should be paid for by the company. The company should also make available to consumers complete and accurate information on how any purchase results in a donation, including the amount of that donation.

5.4.9 The amount of income which will be made available as an up front donation, if there is one.

5.4.10 Acknowledgement that the partnership will be subject to monitoring, review and evaluation by both partners at regular intervals throughout the period of the agreement and formally, at the end of the partnership.


6 Implementation

6.1 This Policy is intended to be implemented at all levels of the Movement (local, national, international).

6.2 Each component of the Movement – the Federation, the ICRC and National Societies – is individually responsible for implementing the Policy, and instructing its volunteers and staff accordingly.

6.3 The Federation Secretariat and the ICRC will ensure dissemination of the Policy to all components of the Movement; the National Societies are responsible for disseminating the Policy internally to local chapters and branches and for monitoring its correct application.

6.4 The Federation Secretariat and the ICRC will be responsible for ensuring that the Policy is fully respected and implemented by the Movement as a whole. They will facilitate Movement components sharing their experience using the Policy, and review its implementation across the Movement.

6.5 Monitoring corporate sector partnerships and use of the Policy will form part of the National Society self-assessment process, and as such will be reviewed regularly.

6.6 Based on the review described in 6.5, the Federation Secretariat and the ICRC will analyse the Policy’s implementation and will make recommendations for improvement of the Policy to the Council of Delegates.

6.7 All components of the Movement are responsible for informing other Movement components of their relationships with multinational companies. National Societies are responsible for keeping the Federation Secretariat informed on these matters.

6.8 This Policy applies from the date of its adoption, to any new partnership contract or renewal or extension thereof.

6.9 It is recommended that the Policy be applied during the various stages of corporate partnership building.


[1] The Policy does not apply to financial or in-kind donations or to commercial arrangements with suppliers and service providers that do not entail a communication or promotional dimension which might potentially create a public association of image. In these relationships, while there may be recognition of the company’s support, there must be no “public association” with the Red Cross or Red Crescent name, image and Emblem/logo.

[2] The Regulations on the Use of the Emblem of the Red Cross or the Red Crescent by the National Societies (here referred to as ‘Regulations on the Use of the Emblem’) were adopted by the 20th Red Cross and Red Crescent International Conference (1965) and revised by the Council of Delegates (1991). In this document, we refer to the revised version from 1991, which was also submitted to and approved by all the States party to the Geneva Conventions and agreed to by the ICRC and the Federation at the 1993 Council of Delegates (Resolution 8).

[3] International humanitarian law (IHL) applies primarily in situations of armed conflict. It refers principally to the four 1949 Geneva Conventions and the two 1977 Additional Protocols. While it must be respected primarily by combatants (State and non-State bearers of weapons involved in the conduct of hostilities), IHL also applies to private companies in cases where they are directly involved in hostilities, for instance, through the hiring of military personnel. To learn more on whether a potential corporate partner has violated IHL, refer to:


[4] There are varying definitions of core business. KLD Research has defined it as 15% of annual revenues for retailers. Michael Jantzi Research Associates Inc. has defined it as 5% of annual revenues from sales.

[5] Article 23 (d) of The Regulations on the Use of the Emblem states that “the company concerned must in no way be engaged in activities running counter to the Movement’s objectives and Principles or which might be regarded by the public as controversial.”

[6] Sustainable Development is defined as “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” (World Commission on Environment and Development, 1987).

[7] In cases where a company is not comfortable sharing information about itself, a system of “good faith” can be used. In this case, a company will not be required to reveal its information but will be requested to state that it fulfils the Guiding Criteria and that it will continue to meet them throughout the terms of the agreement, as per 5.3.4. Alternatively, signing a confidentiality agreement (See Sample Document VI of the Policy for further reference) might also be considered to facilitate the information sharing process.

[8] Multinational partnerships are partnerships which involve a multinational company and more than one National Society. These partnerships require the involvement of the International Federation (10th General Assembly, 1995).

[9] Endorse: This refers to a situation in which the Movement component is seen as “providing a sign of formal and explicit approval of the products, policies or services of a company”. As per Article 23 of the Emblem Regulations, ‘no confusion must be created in the mind of the public between the company’s activities or the quality of its products and the Emblem or the National Society itself’.

[10] Exclusivity: a situation in which a Movement component agrees that the corporate partner will be its sole partner for an unspecified period of time.


[1] The full text of the Policy is located on FedNet, under: Working Together / ERC / Relationship Development / Corporate Relations / Corporate Policy. The full text includes practical tools for the Policy's implementation, which may further guide those establishing corporate partnerships on behalf of their organization. The substantive provisions contained in the Annex to this Resolution highlight the essential policy elements of the full document.