Movement leaders gather in Vienna to take stock of our Fundamental Principles

Published: 8 October 2015 15:55 CET

Leaders from across the international Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement gathered yesterday in Vienna to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Fundamental Principles of Red Cross and Red Crescent.

The opportunity to reaffirm the Movement’s commitment comes at a time when the humanitarian landscape is changing: conflicts are becoming more protracted, more people are displaced today that at any time since the Second World War, and disasters are increasing in both frequency and intensity.

Participants worked together to examine how the principles can continue to form the solid basis for our decisions and how principled leadership can contribute to the work of the Movement.

The discussions show clearly how abiding by the Fundamental Principles is a priority for all National Societies. These principles continue to be considered as the key tool to guide all Red Cross and Red Crescent action. Participants agreed that they have an obligation to uphold and apply them not only on an institutional basis, but also in their daily lives.

Anna Carlstedt, president of Swedish Red Cross, said leadership had to ‘walk the walk’. “We cannot write things on our websites and then do differently,” she said. “We need to follow up personally, lead in value-based ethics, which is rooted in our Fundamental Principles. It helps us stay coherent even when our path is a difficult one.”

Elhadj As Sy, Secretary General of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said respecting the principles and staying true to them also provides a consistent base, even when events take a turn for the unpredictable. “Humanitarian action and leadership are both very bumpy roads. The Fundamental Principles serve as a compass when we get lost and help us through the challenges that we face,” he said.

A packed day ended with a strong sense of renewed commitment to the principles and confidence that they remain relevant, and still function as the building blocks of the Red Cross and Red Crescent in the future.