However, the Red Cross Red Crescent is present not just during disasters, but also much beforehand and long afterwards. Therefore, we are well-placed to be equally effective in development work as that is a long-term business well suited to the long-term outlook, substantial capacities, and permanent presence of the Red Cross Red Crescent.
The Red Cross Red Crescent presence arises from within local communities organised through our National Societies that mobilise local people to respond to their own needs, through local branches and units. These call upon the services of millions of volunteers with many different types of skills.
At the same time, each National Society has a unique, long-established and legally-defined auxiliary partnership with its government. This gives the National Society a privileged place at decision-making tables and access to resources to address national vulnerability. Red Cross Red Crescent services are underpinned by the Fundamental Principles and values that we have developed over a long period, and that continue to inspire the setting of global norms, raising standards, shaping codes of conduct, and establishing legal frameworks.
In summary, our recognised mandate, special position in national life, tested principles and values, long proven professionalism and expertise, and international status, enable us to trigger the mobilisation and expansion of our extensive network and diverse capacities whenever needed. Taken all together, this is the foundation for the powerful Red Cross Red Crescent contribution to promoting human development.
Our perspective on development
National Societies cover a large and long-running range of needed local and national services. They include disease prevention and health promotion, water and sanitation, blood donor recruitment, food and nutrition, disaster preparedness, response, and recovery, social assistance, as well as protection for poor, vulnerable, and marginalised groups through promoting social inclusion, and a culture of non-violence and peace.
The developmental value of these services rests on the notion that is common to them i.e. that of preventing and reducing the underlying causes of vulnerability. This intent is enshrined in our Constitution which defines our general objective as “to inspire, encourage, facilitate and promote at all times all forms of humanitarian activities by National Societies, with a view to preventing and alleviating human suffering, and thereby contributing to the maintenance and promotion of human dignity and peace in the world”.
Our development efforts can “do more, do better and reach further” having long realised that there is practical necessity to move beyond humanitarian relief because vulnerability is increasing. More and bigger disasters, many of them associated with changes in climate, environment and human ecology, are inflicting greater damage, loss, and dislocation with which conventional response capabilities are unable to keep pace. Other factors include periodic economic crises, growing inequalities, competition over scarce resources, demographic change, urbanisation, migration, changing disease burdens and complex patterns of violence. These interact to create novel and variable forms of vulnerability and crisis that heighten marginalisation, impoverishment and insecurity.
At the same time, there are also new opportunities for tackling human vulnerability better, faster, and on a bigger scale. This is possible due to the revolution in information and communication, social networking, science and technology, and the accumulation of knowledge and wealth that is at our collective disposal. These factors, along with historic political, economic and social shifts, are creating new capacities for innovative problem solving as well as raising expectations for greater fairness in relations among countries, especially when it comes to sharing resources. Meanwhile, people everywhere are awakening to their basic human rights and aspiring to develop and take charge of lasting solutions to their own needs and vulnerabilities.