Bahrain Red Crescent hosts humanitarian diplomacy forum in Manama

Publicado: 25 noviembre 2014 23:20 CET

 By Soraya Dali-Balta and Raefah Makki, IFRC


The “Diplomacy in the service of humanity” forum kicked off yesterday in Bahrain under the patronage of the Bahrain Red Crescent Society in the Bahraini capital Manama, in the presence of several state officials, representatives of governmental bodies and humanitarian organisations and delegates from the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement representing 12 countries. 

In his opening speech, Bahraini Health Minister, Mr Sadeq bin Abdul Karim Al Shahabi stressed on the need to set up humanitarian diplomacy mechanisms as an approach to be adopted by relief and humanitarian workers around the world.

“Since the establishment of the Bahraini Red Crescent Society in 1970, the organisation has been striving to be active within the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement,” Mr Al Shahabi said, listing the National Society’s outstanding projects in the humanitarian and social fields in the Kingdom and abroad, and which included training volunteers on responding to emergency calls, and awareness promotion campaigns on health issues.

According to Dr Abdullah Al Hazza'a, the General Secretary of the Arab Organisation for Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, the importance of the forum lies in its timing, when the region is witnessing armed conflicts, unrest and violence which all had negative effects on the lives of millions of people. Dr Al Hazza’a mentioned the current situation in Syria and other countries of the region which are suffering from dire humanitarian conditions as an example of the increasing challenges in the region.

Dr Al Hazza’a continued: “Amid some parties’ neglect of international laws, especially the Geneva Conventions of 1949 which represent the cornerstone for humanitarian work and which secure human beings’ right in receiving aid, the Arab Organisation for Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies has taken the initiative to hold this essential forum.”

“The main objective behind using diplomacy in humanitarian work is strengthening capacities to gather relevant resources, in addition to responding to the needs of vulnerable people,” said the Director of the IFRC for the Middle East and North Africa, Mr Elias Ghanem. “We cannot effectively attain set humanitarian goals without turning humanitarian diplomacy into an integral part of the work of National Societies and the IFRC while securing  necessary tools to serve it,” Mr Ghanem added.

The deputy head of the International Committee of the Red Cross regional delegation, Mr Yehia Khalil considered that the main goal behind introducing diplomacy in the humanitarian work is establishing new approaches to the work of the The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, and which includes advocacy, negotiations, communication, and official agreements, in addition to other procedures.

Dr Fawzi Amin, the Secretary General of the Bahrain Red Crescent Society, meanwhile said that humanitarian diplomacy is a concept that has long been adopted in the West but has only been recently introduced in the region. “We want to be the first to explore the effectiveness of diplomacy in our humanitarian and relief work not only on a local level , but on a regional level and in cooperation with all our regional and international partners.”

Panels have discussed during the two days of the forum, issues related to the theory and practice of humanitarian diplomacy, the challenging environment as well as the importance of cooperation and coordination during conflicts and emergencies for a stronger humanitarian diplomacy.  

By the end of the forum, participants have agreed to foster humanitarian diplomacy efforts in the region for a better coordinated humanitarian approach and to set up a training program which focuses on humanitarian diplomacy to be offered to all National Societies in the region.