Red Cross Red Crescent Conference: Over 160 States gather to address world’s most pressing humanitarian issues

Photo: IFRC

Geneva, 12 December 2019— Representatives from 168 States joined 187 Red Cross Red Crescent Societies, at the International Conference in Geneva which closed today. The International Conference, held every four years since 1867, brings together States party to the Geneva Conventions and global Red Cross Red Crescent representatives.

The International Conference is a unique opportunity for decision-makers to discuss the world’s most pressing humanitarian issues and adopt resolutions that guide future humanitarian action.  Previous decisions have contributed to the strengthening of international humanitarian law (IHL) and legal frameworks for disasters whilst ensuring safe environments for volunteering. This year, key issues on the agenda included trust, mental health, climate change, pandemic preparedness, data protection and migration.

“The International Conference is a unique place for the Red Cross and Red Crescent to discuss critical humanitarian challenges with governments,” said Peter Maurer, ICRC President. “The fact that we had 168 States actively participating shows that governments have a strategic interest in responding to humanitarian crises and engaging with the Movement.”

In an era of increasing scrutiny of the humanitarian sector, in-depth discussions on trust, integrity, accountability were central to the 3-day Conference.  “Being trusted by the people we serve is critical to being able to restore family links, to ensuring lifesaving access, to working with and alongside communities,” said Francesco Rocca, President of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).

A summary of all the Resolutions approved today can be found here but highlights included:

“I’m pleased that States together with the Movement have committed to tackle the new challenges emerging on the world’s frontlines,” said Maurer. “They reaffirmed the importance of the laws of war, at a time when technical innovation is raising questions about how much control humans have over weapons. And they agreed to protect the personal data of people searching for their loved ones. We also saw an encouraging groundswell of support to boost mental health responses.”

“We are pleased to have reached agreement on the different resolutions,“ said Rocca. “We are now ready to ensure the follow up of all the decisions and we will continue to advocate strongly for the localization agenda and the support our National Societies which are local actors par excellence: Strong National Societies, strong local actors, mean strong local communities.”