Council of Delegates 2003: Resolution 9
Promote respect for diversity and fight discrimination and intolerance
Council of Delegates of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, Geneva, Switzerland, 30 November – 2 December 2003
The Council of Delegates,
recalling Resolution 12 of the 2001 Council of Delegates which aimed at strengthening humanitarian values across religious, political and ethnic lines,
further recalling that discrimination, intolerance and disrespect for the diversity of human life remains an endemic problem in many parts of the world, jeopardising the efforts of civil society and governments to build prosperous and sustainable communities in which people can live and work together free from fear and want,
recalling the commitment by National Societies and States to cooperate and, as appropriate, take initiatives to promote tolerance, non-violence in the community and respect for cultural diversity, as stated in the Plan of Action adopted in 1999 by the 27th International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent,
taking note of the recommendations and suggestions offered by National Societies, including during the debates at the Council of Delegates 2003,
1. reaffirms the commitment of all components of the Movement to strengthen the application of the Fundamental Principles and the promotion of humanitarian values across religious, political and ethnic lines, both in their internal affairs and in their humanitarian services,
2. requests the different components of the Movement, in conformity with their respective mandates, to work at the local, national and international levels to promote tolerance, non-discrimination and respect for diversity, and to take actions in conformity with those outlined in the attached annex,
3. invites the ICRC, the International Federation and National Societies, on the basis of their participation to relevant meetings and of consultations, to formulate a position paper and/or guidelines for the components of the Movement on respect for diversity and fight against discrimination and intolerance, which will be presented at the 2005 Council of Delegates;
4. requests all components of the Movement to relate their work in this area with the implementation of the related aspects of the Declaration and the Agenda for Humanitarian Action adopted at the 2003 International Conference.
Annex to Resolution 9
of the 2003 Council of Delegates
MOBILISATION AND ACTION — THE WAY FORWARD
(Extract from 2003 Council of Delegates — Background paper — item 7.1 of the agenda)
As already outlined, different components of the Movement have undertaken activities which have as their aim the fight against intolerance and discrimination. However, much more can — and must — be done. Individually and together as a Movement a concerted effort needs to be made in this regard. Ideas for mobilisation and action include:
1. Ensuring openness and diversity within the components of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement:
a. Presidents and Secretaries-General within the Movement organizations should undertake an assessment of the composition of the leadership, staff, volunteers and membership of the organizations they lead.
b. Imbalances in membership on whatever ground – race, religion, sex, age, must be identified and urgently addressed.
c. Components of the Movement, particularly National Societies, which have already taken actions in this regard are called on to share their experiences, so we can all learn from the work of others.
d. A voluntary reporting on the outcomes of actions taken in this regard could be made at the 2005 Council of Delegates.
2. Looking outward for insight and understanding:
a. The Movement should invest resources to understand emerging trends in our communities which fuel intolerance, discrimination and lack of respect for diversity and which can combat them.
b. The Movement should systematically network with those who are working for the same endeavour – building partnerships to promote dialogue and inclusion with international and national organizations, in the nongovernmental and private sectors.
3. Promoting public dialogue and advocacy:
a. Each component of the Movement must review the messages it communicates – not only what it wants to say but what is actually heard by those we want to reach.
b. We must understand how we are perceived and ensure that we are viewed as tolerant, non-discriminatory and that we respect diversity.
c. We must develop clear and categorical messages that as components of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement we are guided by the belief that tolerance is necessary and that the diversity of cultures and beliefs is an essential component of the world we live in.
d. We must strengthen or develop advocacy tools in order to promote tolerance, non-discrimination and respect for diversity at national and international forums.
e. Movement components should maximise the use of communication tools at our disposal to do this — publications, world-wide web and our messages to the media.
4. Strength in preparedness — Being proactive and reactive:
a. The different components of the Movement in conformity with their respective mandates must work at the local, national and international levels to promote tolerance, non-discrimination and respect for cultural diversity.
b. National Societies, with the support of the ICRC and the International Federation, will give particular attention to the needs of persons and groups who are particularly marginalised or in need, particularly those marginalised and living in the shadows of disease, lack of legal status or homelessness.
c. Such programmes should be inspired by and build on the programmes developed to combat discrimination and violence, and take special account of the needs of children and the ageing, families of persons missing as a result of armed conflict or internal violence, and, other victims of armed conflict.
d. The International Federation must expand its Global/Local Action Programme against discrimination and, in cooperation with National Societies, build partnerships with governments and other international organisations to ensure its effective implementation.
e. The different components of the Movement must seek out means to support efforts for dialogue, reconciliation and trust-building amongst communities including at the end of hostilities. Initiatives must be taken to bring communities together — recognising the strength and value that comes from coexistence — and to ensure groups are not forgotten or excluded.
f. During situations of armed conflict or internal violence, the ICRC, together with other components of the Movement, must make every effort to encourage respect for and implementation of the Fundamental Principles and international humanitarian law and ensure its dissemination.
g. National Societies, with the support of the ICRC, must strengthen their peacetime programmes of dissemination of international humanitarian law and of the Fundamental Principles, evaluating lessons learned from its Exploring Humanitarian Law (EHL) programme and developing innovative ways to reach and influence communities where tensions are high.
h. The ICRC and National Societies must make every effort to ensure that persons missing as a result of armed conflict or internal violence and/or persons still deprived of their liberty after the end of hostilities or internal violence are not forgotten and that obligations under international law are met so as to foster reconciliation amongst communities.
5. Learning from experience and developing new initiatives internally and with other organizations:
In order to ensure that the components of the Movement identify the best practices, learn from them and reach out to other organizations, the ICRC and the International Federation should
a. convene a meeting or series of regional meetings of experts from inside and outside the Movement to exchange ideas on best practices and initiatives to combat intolerance, discrimination and lack of respect for diversity,
b. identify, with National Societies, actions that at the national and local level have hindered or helped in the fight against intolerance, discrimination and lack of respect for diversity,
c. intensify their work with other international organisations working towards similar objectives, both at headquarters and in cooperation with National Societies,
d. formulate a position paper and/or guidelines for the components of the Movement on tolerance, non-discrimination and respect for diversity, which will be presented at the 2005 Council of Delegates outlining the outcomes of the expert’s meeting(s) and experience gained since the 2003 Council.