The Russian Federation: ICRC plan of action 2006
25-01-2006 Operational Update
The International Committee of the Red Cross has been working in the Russian Federation since 1992.
From its regional delegation in Moscow, the ICRC carries out a range of activities aimed at the integration of international humanitarian law (IHL) treaties into the national legislation as well as their teaching and promotion amongst the armed and security forces, universities, secondary schools and civil society.
The Moscow delegation supports the implementation of these programmes in CIS countries.
In the northern Caucasus, the ICRC runs a major humanitarian operation comprising both protection and assistance programmes for the vulnerable populations affected by the conflict in Chechnya, as well as the promotion of IHL.
The ICRC supports the Russian Red Cross (RRC) and also implements a number of its programmes with this partner.
In the past years the Russian Federation achieved significant progress in the field of treaty ratification and integration of IHL into its national legislation. In 2005, technical problems and domestic constraints were often invoked to slow down the process. At the same time, Russian authorities actively participate to the design and adoption of the new treaties, such as the Third Additional Protocol to the Geneva Conventions of 1949 concerning the Additional Emblem or the possible amendment of the International Criminal Court Statute in 2009.
In 2005, the resolution on the issue of the missing persons was adopted in the framework of the 3rd Interparliamentary Conference of the CIS countries. The CIS Interparliamentary Assembly also requested the ICRC to assist in the preparation of the draft model law on the missing persons.
The Ministry of Defence and Ministry of Interior continue to integrate IHL/HRL in the training of armed and security forces. Police and army officers attend specialized courses on a regular basis. Cadets from Russian military institutions demonstrate knowledge and competence at the International Competition for Military Academies at the International Institute of Humanitarian Law in San Remo. Nevertheless significant progress remains to be made to fully integrate the knowledge of IHL at the level of field operations.
Russian universities show continued interest for IHL and actively participate in current debates about IHL during ICRC regional events and essay competitions. The ICRC increasingly works with an active network of Russian experts and partner organisations, such as the Russian Association of International Law, with whom a co-operation agreement was signed in 2003.
The Ministry of Education continues using the ICRC's manuals in secondary schools across all regions, allowing millions of p upils to read about and discuss the basic humanitarian principles. In 2005, the manuals were successfully introduced in five schools of Grozny, offering opportunities for an expansion of the programme in Chechen republic.
The security situation in the northern Caucasus remained tense in 2005.
The attack on Nalchik, the capital of Kabardino-Balkaria, in October 2005, resulting in a number of people dead, and followed by a series of arrests, created an atmosphere of unrest and fear among the civilian population in the republic.
In Daghestan , attacks on police forces and special operations continued throughout the year, causing numerous losses among the personnel as well as civilian casualties.
In Ingushetia , the situation has also remained volatile, with an increase of attacks in the second half of the year, targeting mostly the federal and local authorities.
In Chechnya , some developments improving the daily life of the population took place while parliamentary elections in November 2005 passed without major incidents.
However, security remained the overriding concern for the civilian population and hostilities continued. Arrests continued to take place and there were widespread public reports of disappearances.
Mines and unexploded ordnance (UXO) still posed a problem for the civilian population as they went about their daily and seasonal activities.
The ICRC still has no news of its Grozny staff member, Usman Saidaliev, abducted by unidentified armed men at his home in Chechnya in August 2003.
Northern Caucasus: humanitarian action 2006
In 2006, the ICRC's large-scale operation in the northern Caucasus will continue to focus on assistance and protection activities. However, implementation of these programmes will depend on the security environment in the region.
The ICRC office in Nalchik co-ordinates humanitarian programmes carried out from the offices located in Nazran, Grozny, Khasavyurt, Makhachkala, Vladikavkaz and Stavropol. The ICRC expatriate team remains based in Nalchik, Nazran and Khasavyurt while missions to Chechnya will be carried out as conditions permit. In 2005, the expatriate staff was regularly present in Chechnya thanks to improved access and security arrangements. However, a great deal of responsibility remains placed on national staff.
The development of neutral and impartial humanitarian action remains a challenge in a context where the need for humanitarian assistance is still great. As a matter of priority in 2006, the ICRC will pursue discussions with the Russian authorities aimed at the resumption of visits – suspended since September 2004 – to people detained in connection with the conflict in Chechnya, in accordance with its standard procedures worldwide.
The ICRC also seeks to engage the authorities in a dialogue on missing persons and to promote respect for the civilian population in the northern Caucasus.
While the visits to detainees are suspended, the ICRC continues to establish and maintain links between detainees and their families. The Family Visit Programme allows two family members to visit their relatives in detention once a year, often in very remote locations. Since the start of the programme end of February 2005, 298 of families have applied for a visit. In some cases, the Family Visit Programme enables families to restore links with the next of kin after several years of disruption of contacts.
The ICRC's assistance operation in the northern Caucasus remains, in budgetary terms, one of its biggest worldwide. The organization has adopted a dual approach, which involves providing direct assistance to vulnerable households, on the one hand, and supporting public services and boosting families'productive and income-generating capacities, on the other hand. In 2006, the ICRC will carry on providing some 80,000 members of internally displaced (Ingushetia and Daghestan) and resident communities (Chechnya) with essential household items.
Through the microeconomic projects, in 2005 the ICRC supported over 80 households in starting small family business allowing them to generate stable income and decrease dependence on humanitarian assistance. As of 2006, microeconomic projects will be expanded to Ingushetia and Daghestan.
The ICRC also supports the repair of public infrastructure such as the water supply and sewerage systems in Chechnya, Ingushetia and Daghestan.
Reinforcing health services in the region is another priority, with the ICRC assisting up to 13 hospitals in Chechnya, one in Daghestan and one in Ingushetia, as well as the Grozny central blood bank. It further supports training for health workers, hospital doctors, and prosthetic technicians from the orthopaedic centre in Grozny.
The mine action programme helps civilian population in general, and children in particular, to avoid the dangers of mines and UXO in Chechnya.
Promotion of international humanitarian law 2006
In 2006 the ICRC will maintain the entire range of its prevention activities aiming at promoting IHL, humanitarian issues and fostering support for the organisation.
The promotion of the ratification and national implementation of IHL treaties in CIS countries will continue in the framework of a co-operation agreement signed between the ICRC and the CIS Interparliamentary Assembly in 2004. In the Russian Federation, the ICRC will continue to co-operate with the competent authorities on the accession to IHL treaties and their incorporation into the national legislation.
Russian armed and security forces will be encouraged to further integrate IHL/HRL into training at all levels, with a special focus on training packages for troops being prepared for or engaged in the northern Caucasus, as well as to ensure that such rules are observed in practice.
IHL teaching in Russian universities will be supported with a series of regional events (Advanced IHL course, Moot-Court competition for the students of the faculties of law and journalism, Martens Readings) strengthened through co-operation with the Russian Association of International Law. Several local scientific centres will be identified among the higher educational institutions, to become focal points for IHL dissemination related activities and develop expertise in addressing IHL issues.
In 2006, further support will be given to both professors and students in their research thro ugh the National IHL Library and the Information Centre opened on the premises of the ICRC's regional delegation in the RF.
While co-operation with the Ministry of Education on methodology and IHL training will continue, secondary school programme will be concentrated in 70 most motivated regions with a special focus on Chechnya.
The ICRC will also continue to target selected NGOs and think tanks with IHL and humanitarian issues and build contact with specialized media and publishers whose audiences include leaders and opinion-makers in Russia and the CIS.
Co-operation with the Russian Red Cross and other humanitarian organizations
Co-operation with the Russian Red Cross will focus on strengthening the National Society’s operational response capacity in the northern Caucasus and supporting its tracing service and dissemination of IHL.
Coordination with other components of the Movement, UN agencies and other humanitarian organizations working in the northern Caucasus will remain an essential aspect of the ICRC's operation.
See also :Press release issued by the ICRC delagation in Moscow