Presentation of the International Committee of the Red Cross for the United Nations Consolidated Appeals Process (CAP) Launch
Wednesday, 29 November 2000, Palais des Nations, Geneva. By Paul Grossrieder.
Thank you, Mr Chairman, for giving me the floor.
Let me start by expressing my appreciation on behalf of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement for having been invited to participate in this presentation of Consolidated Appeals for 2001.
I - Way in which humanitarian actions is perceived and carried out
The last years have brought about radical changes in the world and we are all trying to grasp the nature of this evolution – or revolution, as it should perhaps be called. Among its salient features are the tremendous progress made in the field of information technology, the empowerment of civil society and a growing awareness that the challenges facing mankind today are global, especially in demographic and environmental terms.
As for threats to peace, they are not confined to the risk of military confrontations engaged in to defend national interests. Poverty, pandemic diseases, ecological disasters, battles for energy resources, corruption and terrorism may also trigger violence and, as has been amply demonstrated, violence, once unleashed, knows no boundaries.
The realisation that the security of mankind cannot be ensured by military means alone but requires a co-operative effort on the part of all spheres of society has led to the conce pt of global responsibility – in a world that some go so far as to call a " global village " – in particular that of States, the business world, citizens'groups, NGOs and religious organisations.
Humanitarian action has also undergone changes, two of which are of particular interest. First of all, promoting respect for human rights and humanitarian law is now viewed as a shared responsibility. Humanitarian organisations are thus exploring ways in which civil society can be mobilised to help ensure respect for these norms.
Secondly, the task of helping war victims is no longer left solely to humanitarian organisations like the different components of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement's, the various UN agencies or numerous NGO's. In some particular context the military is increasingly trying to be involved in providing relief, evacuating civilians, setting up refugee camps and organising armed escorts for humanitarian workers.
- Working relations, constructive dialogue and cooperation among the civilian and military entities involved in situations of armed conflict
The relationship between military operations and humanitarian endeavour has received particular attention in recent years, as the assignment of humanitarian tasks to international military forces is increasingly considered as a viable option for crisis management.
The implications of several developments, all stemming from the end of the Cold War, have led the United Nations to conceive an " integrated approach " to crisis management, and in certain military operations have also favoured a closer connection bet ween military and humanitarian action. While the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement generally welcomes this, it feels that direct involvement of the military in the humanitarian domain gives rise to several paradoxes – related to the divergent aims and principles of military forces and humanitarian organizations – which merit careful consideration.
To sum up , we believe that in the face of armed violence and conflict a two-pronged approach, with two principal objectives, is required. The first objective is to deal with the root causes of the crisis; in other words to search for a political and military settlement. The second is to alleviate the effects of the crisis in humanitarian terms, that is, to assist and protect the victims.
In this framework, political, military and humanitarian players should manage crises in a comprehensive manner, taking a holistic view of the factors involved but having due regard to their respective responsibilities, mandates and spheres of competence.
The following are, in our view, three key points concerning the nature of military and humanitarian action and the relationship and cooperation between the two:
- Military operations should be clearly distinct from humanitarian activities. Particularly at the height of hostilities, military forces should not be directly involved in humanitarian action, as this would or could, in the minds of the authorities and the population, associate humanitarian organizations with political or military objectives that go beyond humanitarian concerns. The primary aim of military operations should be to establish and maintain peace and security and help sustain a comprehensive political settlement.
- Humanitarian action is not designed to resolve conflict but to protect human dignity and save lives. It should not be used to mask a lack of resol ve to take appropriate political action, or to compensate for the inadequacy of such action. There is no substitute for the political will to find a political solution. Such political commitment is essential if military and humanitarian action are to remain effective.
- Humanitarian agencies must be allowed to maintain their independence of decision and action, while consulting closely with military forces. There should be a regular exchange of views on how the respective mandates are being fulfilled. This should help enhance mutual respect and understanding of objectives and constraints.
The ICRC is convinced that the key to a more precisely tailored response to crisis situations is not to merge the activities of the military with those of humanitarian organizations, but rather to identify points of contact at which interaction may be consolidated in a spirit of complementarity.
- Promotion of an effective institutional cooperation on behalf of displaced persons
The issue of displaced persons has remained a major concern for States and humanitarian organizations over the past months. Their concern is amply justified, for a high proportion of displaced persons are still not receiving any protection and assistance, wether because of the inadequacy of the general response to their needs or the prevailing lack of security. As one of the leading humanitarian organizations, the ICRC is firmly resolved to tacking an active part in discussions under way, and to promoting effective institutional cooperation on behalf of displaced persons.
Large-scale population movements are usually a consequence of conflicts or internal disturbances affecting the entire civilian population. The ICRC regards persons who have been displaced o wing to a conflict to be civilians first and foremost and, as such, are protected by international humanitarian law. It is also convinced that this body of law, which is legally binding on both States and non-State actors, is adequate for coping with most of the problems that arise in connection with population movements resulting form armed conflict. The ICRC believes, furthermore, that responsibility for meeting the protection and assistance needs displaced persons belongs in the first instance to the authority of the states concerned.
The complexity and the magnitude of the issue of displaced persons oblige organizations to pool their efforts to improve the quality of the humanitarian response. The wish to promote an efficient allocations of tasks in a spirit of complementarity is at the basis of the ICRC's increase cooperation with agencies of the United Nation system. Accordingly, the ICRC take an active part in meetings of the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC), where it has the status of standing invitee. It has also lent its backing to the recently created Senior Inter-Agency network on Internal Displacement. In the same vein, the ICRC continue to be supportive to the important role as catalyst played by the Secretary-General's Special Representative for Internally Displaced Persons.
At the same time, the ICRC is firmly resolved to fufil its own specific role, provided for in the Geneva Conventions, as a neutral and independent intermediary in situations of armed conflict. On the operational level, ICRC is involved in a wide range of protection and assistance activities aiming to meet the most urgent needs of some 5 million individuals. In this respect the wide network and intimate knowledge of local conditions which is provided by members of National Red Cross and Red Crescent societies represent invaluable assets. The Sevilla Agreement, adopted in 1997 by the components of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, m arked an important development in terms of ccordination by defining the respective roles of the movement's components in different situations. The Sevilla Agreement confers upon the ICRC the role of lead agency with regard to international relief operations in situations of armed conflict or internal strife, including activities in favour of internally displaced persons. By securing predictability and complementarity of action, the Agreement aims at maximizing the impact of the activities undertaken by the ICRC, National Societies and their Federation on behalf of victims of conflict, natural disasters and other emergency situations.
The need to develop sound management of humanitarian activities means that responsibilities must be assumed by organizations that enjoy a comparative advantage by virtue of their expertise and abilities. Management imperatives also mean that there will have to be innovation within the organizations, so as to meet the demands made of them in terms of knowledge of the environment, training and security. The resolution of today's crises will depend to a large extent on the ability of States and organizations to meet these challenges.
- Women and armed conflict
In order to assist in the best possible way, the international community needs to understand the realities confronting all persons not taking part in hostilities, including of course women.
Two year ago the ICRC initiated a study to examine how women are affected by armed conflict around the world and how ICRC's activities are responding to the needs engendered by armed conflict. Some of the findings of this research have already led to a renewal of ICRC activities. This study, which has just been completed, will form the background for the formulati on of guidelines for the protection and assistance of women and girl children in armed conflict. This ICRC initiative was introduced to States and the members of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement at the International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent held one year ago in Geneva.
Furthermore, during this Conference, the ICRC President renewed the Institution's commitment to the effective protection of women through a 4-year pledge. This pledge specifically focusses on dissemination, to parties to an armed conflict, of the protection accorded by humanitarian law to women and girls and the issue of sexual violence.
From its inception, international humanitarian law has accorded women general protection equal to that of men. At the same time the humanitarian law treaties accord women special protection to their specific needs. Both the general and special protection are enshrined in the four Geneva Covention of 1949 and their Additional Protocol of 1977. If international humanitarian law was respected much of the suffering, loss and destruction that civilains and those hors de combat experience every day could be reduced. The prime responsibility for observing the rules of war rests upon the parties to an armed conflict.
II - The situation regarding conflicts and other forms of violence
- General situation
At the same period a year ago we did not expect to see any improvement in the year 2000 in the situation worldwide. Unfortunately time has proved us right: the ICRC is still working in connection with almost 60 situations, includi ng more than 25 armed conflicts marked by frequent clashes, plus a number of latent conflicts that could flare up at any time and many focal points of tension and unrest. While some conflicts have come to an end, others have quickly taken their place to keep the figures for conflicts and other situations of violence constant around the world. In this difficult environment, the conflict victims' needs for humanitarian aid remain very great.
It is only too clear that there has been no improvement in Africa, where the ICRC is working in connection with a score of operational contexts, including eleven armed conflicts in which hardly a day goes by without fighting.
Some of these situations have deteriorated and have even affected neighbouring countries (for example, in southern Africa the Angola conflict is having increasing repercussions for Namibia and Zambia; and in West Africa the Sierra Leone conflict has spilled over into Guinea and Liberia).
Other conflicts seem to have become self-perpetuating (examples: the cease-fire that failed to hold in Sudan ; the continuing clashes between warlords, militias and armed gangs in Somalia ).
New trouble-spots are emerging, for instance in Zimbabwe; and in Côte d'Ivoire where, given the instability of the region, ethnic and religious rivalry could make the situation spiral out of control.
Peace accords remain a dead letter, or are deferred or suspended (examples: Burundi , where the Arusha peace agreement may fall into abeyance because it was not signed by certain opposition parties; the Democratic Republic of the Congo , where fighting never stopped despite the Lusaka accord; and Sierra Leone, where the conflict resumed despite the Lomé agreement). The only situations where settlement seems within reach are those in Ethiopia/Eritrea and in the Republic of the Congo .
- Asia and the Pacific
The number of theatres of operation in this part of the world has risen to 25, including ten armed conflicts marked by regular and large-scale fighting.
Some conflicts have intensified or spread to neighbouring countries, in South-East Asia (examples: the Philippines; the Moluccas and West Timor in Indonesia), on the subcontinent (Nepal), and in Central Asia (incursions by fighters, most of them Uzbek, out of Afghanistan into Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, bringing the risk of destabilization for the latter and for Uzbekistan itself).
Other conflicts have become further bogged down on the subcontinent (no change for the better in Afghanistan ; escalation of fighting in Sri Lanka).
New areas of strife are appearing (for example, the small Melanesian States decolonized in the 1970s are vulnerable to events similar to those that have shaken the Solomon Islands and F iji; in Laos there are reports of disturbances whose extent is not yet known).
The path to peace is proving longer than anticipated (for example, in the northern Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir, where insecurity persists despite a unilateral cease-fire announced by the Hizb-ul-Mujaheddin; in Myanmar, where no political solution was reached in 2000; and in Indonesia, notably in Aceh, where despite a " humanitarian pause " the dead and wounded are counted in hundreds).
On the other hand there have been favourable developments in the case of the two Koreas, which are drawing perceptibly closer but not yet with any tangible results.
- Latin America
Despite many meetings between the various parties to the conflict in Colombia, the situation has deteriorated sharply and is beginning to have repercussions on neighbouring countries such as Panama, Ecuador, Venezuela and even Brazil.
However, progress can be expected in Mexico (Chiapas) – where there is now some prospect of Congress passing a law concerning indigenous peoples – and in Peru .
Unlike 2000, the year 2001 will see a decline in the ICRC's operations in Europe. Among the 16 situations in connection with which the ICRC is working are four conflicts marked by regular clashes, plus a number of situations in which peace is still tenuous and wars are not yet over.
In the Caucasus the persistence of certain conflict s which are also affecting adjacent countries makes efforts to resolve them ever more complex (for example, the continuing fighting between Russian forces and Chechen rebels, which has prompted the exodus of Chechens to Georgia and Azerbaijan).
In the Balkans , peace accords are being maintained by force (in both Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosovo, where thanks to a strong military presence there has been no resumption of hostilities). The Federal Republic of Yugoslavia can be cited as a prime example of a violent situation that seems about to end. An improvement in economic circumstances is expected in Serbia in 2001 with the lifting of sanctions and large-scale aid for reconstruction pledged by the European Union.
- Middle East and North Africa
A number of conflicts are dragging on in the Middle East (the Iraqi people continue to live with difficulty under a sanctions regime).
The salutary effects of peace agreements are long in coming, as in the Near East, where recent events in Israel and the occupied and the autonomous territories give grounds for fearing the worst.
Moreover, former conflicts continue to cast a long shadow. Although hostilities between Iran and Iraq ceased in 1988, some 4,000 prisoners captured in that war were still being repatriated by the ICRC in the year 2000. Nor has the Western Sahara issue been resolved: nine years after the 1991 United Nations settlement plan, prisoners of war have still not been repatriated.
III - Financial figures
The International Committee of the Red Cross appeals for a total amount of Sfr 994.9 million (Headquarters Appeals Sfr 150.2 million, Emergency Appeals Sfr 844.7 million).
The International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies appeals for an amount of Sfr 341 million.