Human Security: Consolidation of Peace and Good Governance

Published: 29 May 2008

Contribution by Markku Niskala, Secretary General, during the fourth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD 4), in Yokohama

Thank you for giving me the floor during this panel discussion, which is on a topic of central importance as it relates to development priorities in Africa.

I agree very much with the High Commissioner for Refugees that if there is no sustainable peace and security, people leave their homes and the communities will be destroyed, rather than developed.

Some of the biggest challenges the Red Cross and Red Crescent faced in the immediate post war period has been to assist children, amputees and communities driven by conflicts, to address and cope with the aftermaths of the war.

With the support of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, our member National Societies have made huge positive strides in restoring dignity to the hundreds of affected people through humanitarian values programmes where a culture of non violence and sustainable development is grown in communities.

The Red Cross Red Crescent added value is very significant in these situations.

We bring united and determined communities to the action line. We have a great deal of experience of this engagement in Africa, especially because of serious threats such as effects of climate change, the disastrous consequences of conflicts of all kinds and the spread of killer diseases.

Food security is also a cross-cutting issue of special priority, with the recent rises in food prices standing as a dangerous threat to human security.

The humanitarian consequences of increasing migration are a big concern for the Red Cross and Red Crescent.

We are updating our policies to support our National Societies working in this field, emphasising their roles as the recognised auxiliaries to the public authorities in their countries.

In this regard, we have already had contacts with many governments and with a variety of international organisation counterparts, inclucing the African Union.

This is a range of action beyond what some people think is the traditional role of the Red Cross Red Crescent, raising the question "Who are we in the Red Cross / Red Crescent?"

After the ICRC and the first World War, the founders of our International Federation – which included the Japanese Red Cross – saw clearly the value of good health, the prevention of disease and the mitigation of suffering as essential components in the maintenance of peace and security.

Today, the Geneva-based International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies works in in almost every country in the world with and through its member societies, supporting them and building their capacities to discharge these vital humanitarian responsibilities.

So, in Africa, we are present everywhere, working for the same objectives as inspired the Government of Japan to convene the first TICAD in 1993.

We assure you of our ability to stay engaged, and all we ask from this Conference and its participants is recognition of the part played by communities in preserving their own human security.

In order to facilitate our worldwide work, the IFRC has established a Red Cross / Red Crescent Global Agenda which is connected with the MDGs.

Our first lifesaving goal is related to disasters.

Our second goal is related to health.

Thirdly, we are promoting community resilience (which, it should be noted, is a key Hyogo goal),

and fourthly, we promote human dignity and tolerance among people to avoid all kinds of discrimination.

We look forward to discussion during this panel event, and will certainly take TICAD's conclusions into account as we proceed with our work.