Redefining the auxiliary role for stronger National Societies
Governments should set up laws to protect volunteers and recognize their humanitarian work, concluded the commission on the auxiliary role of National Societies. “Volunteerism is described in Strategy 2020 as being at the heart of community development,” said Dr Dragan Radovanovic, president of the Red Cross of Serbia. Some governments are leading the way. In Mozambique a draft law on volunteerism is already making its way through Parliament. Zhao Baige, executive vice president of the Red Cross Society of China, said that, aside from volunteering, a well-managed partnership with authorities can be conducive to enabling a legal environment that ensures faster entry into countries when international emergency assistance is needed.
A matter of life and death: violence against health care workers and facilities must end
A commission yesterday explored ways to improve respect and protection of health care in armed conflict and other situations of violence. Several eminent speakers from states, NGOs and the Movement outlined the issue as one of the most significant, and yet overlooked, humanitarian problems today. The theme resonated with most delegates who subsequently took the floor, many describing instances of health structures, personnel or vehicles being attacked in their countries. The representative from the government of Sweden stated that it: "strongly supports the proposed resolution on Health Care in Danger, and encourages other states to do the same." Others stressed that the scope of the initiative concerned not just the Movement, but also governments, their armed forces and the health community at large.
Can health inequities be eliminated?
At yesterday’s commission on inequitable access to health, participants agreed with the joint IFRC and World Health Organization report, Eliminating health inequities: every woman and child counts, that there have been significant recent developments in global health. However, it is possible - and necessary - to do more to close the remaining gap, especially for women and children. National Societies of Afghanistan, Argentina, Austria, Bangladesh, Canada, Ecuador and Egypt provided valuable insight, and shared experiences on the issue while advocating for states and the Movement to do more, particularly in utilizing the Red Cross Red Crescent volunteer network to access the most hard-to-reach populations and complementing the efforts of governments.
Video games and IHL: an opportunity to promote the laws of armed conflict?
The ever-increasing popularity of video games that simulate war-like situations represents a new reality for the ICRC, which devotes considerable resources every year to promoting the laws of armed conflict in schools, universities and military organizations. During the side event, the ICRC invited Movement partners to reflect on what place (if any) rules have in virtual battlefields, whether in games or in simulators used for the training of armed forces. National Societies and government representatives were asked to share experiences gained in any interactions they may have had with the game industry, and to give their opinion on the best way to approach game developers and publishers. Participants confirmed the relevance of the issue and highlighted the opportunities rather than the challenges that video games represent. For more information, please click here. ((-->link to Q&A http://www.icrc.org/eng/resources/documents/faq/ihl-video-games-faq-2011-12-08.htm ))
Working together to reach vulnerable migrants
Two events on migration this week called on governments and National Societies to adopt migration policies and practices that ensure humanitarian access, dignity, respect for diversity and social inclusion. A side event, led by the Swedish Red Cross and attended by the Swedish Ambassador, used examples from the National Societies of Indonesia, Mexico and Tunisia to demonstrate the range of practical work being done. At the commission, the governments of China and the Philippines joined National Societies in calling for increased dialogue to reduce anti-migrant sentiment and greater partnerships. The chairman and CEO of the Philippine Red Cross, Richard Gordon, said: "We have talked a lot. Now the Movement must be more assertive in its action."
From relief to development: sustainable humanitarian action
A side event brought together panelists from the Nepal and French Red Cross societies as well as DARA and the World Food Programme. Participants looked at the challenges and opportunities of reducing the divide between relief and development funding. Panelists agreed that the divide was, as DARA's Philip Taminga's said, "artificial". Jean-François Mattei, president of the French Red Cross, said: "True sustainable humanitarian action must feature three components: pre-crisis planning, immediate relief, and a post-crisis response." With a view to overcoming the gaps, it was recommended that organizations approach humanitarian and development activities as connected fields, while appealing to the responsibilities of donors to ensure that all components are adequately funded.