Issue 36: The International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent establishes a working group to resolve the emblem issue

The quadrennial International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent concluded on Saturday in Geneva. Among the resolutions passed was a renewed commitment to resolving the Movement’s ongoing emblem issue.

Analysis: In the resolution which recognized “the current problems in some States and National Societies regarding the emblems of the red cross or red crescent,” the Conference established a joint working group made up of government and Red Cross Red Crescent Movement representatives.

Hopefully, the new resolution – which represents positive progress in terms of both status and timing – will culminate in the inclusion of currently excluded members, and will overcome other obstacles to universality.

Status: Over the past few years, a group of international non-governmental experts have searched for possible solutions to the emblem problem, including the introduction of a new, neutral and universal symbol such as a red diamond. Henceforth, the task will be in the hands of government representatives and the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement. This new group will have a higher profile through the inclusion of state representatives. This may help to advance the finding of a solution.

Timing: Reports of the new working group will be presented in two years time, and then in four years time at the next International Conference. Significantly, the working group is mandated to find a solution “as rapidly as possible.” This new formulation implies that the issue has taken on a greater importance for the international community, and the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement.

Also at the International Conference, elections were held for the all-important Standing Commission. The Standing Commission serves as a liaison between the different components of the International Red Cross Red Crescent Movement, and is charged with preparing the International Conference.”

The Standing Commission consists of nine members: five elected by the Conference from among the 176 National Societies, two from the International Committee of the Red Cross and two from the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. These three groups constitute the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement.

The five elected from among the National Societies were a representative from the Dutch, Swedish, and Japanese Red Cross, and the Jordanian and Saudi Arabian Red Crescent. Their posts will be up for re-election at the 2003 International Conference.

UN Watch