UN Watch Salutes Switzerland for Leadership in Red Cross Victory


Geneva, June 22, 2006 — UN Watch, a non-governmental observer at the 29th International Conference of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, commended the special leadership role of the Swiss government in resolving the emblem issue that enabled today’s admission of the Israeli and Palestinian relief societies.


“We congratulate Swiss Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey for her diplomatic leadership and determination that led to today’s victory for the principles of universality and international humanitarianism,” said UN Watch Executive Director Hillel Neuer.  “Thanks to the Swiss government’s unique role, noble commitment and long efforts, a new bridge for Middle East peace has been constructed through people-to-people and on-the-ground humanitarian cooperation.”


UN Watch founder Morris Abram was one of the 18 experts charged by the Movement to resolve the emblem issue a decade ago.  The Geneva-based NGO has worked closely for many years with leading officials in Geneva to achieve today’s resolution.


UN Watch noted the able leadership of Dr. Jakob Kellenberger, President of the International Commission of the Red Cross (ICRC), as well as the efforts of Dr. Mohammed Al-Hadid, Chairman of the Conference and of the Standing Commission of the Red Cross and Red Crescent; and Dr. Juan Manuel Suarez Del Toro Rivero and Markku Niskala, President and Secretary-General, respectively, of the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement (IFRC).


In addition, UN Watch recognized the determined efforts over many years of numerous other ICRC and IFRC officials, including Christopher Lamb, IFRC Special Adviser; François Bugnion,  ICRC Director for International Law and Cooperation; Olivier Durr, ICRC Adviser (and his predecessor, Jean-Christoph Sandoz); and Frank Mohrhauer, IFRC Senior Legal Officer.


UN Watch regretted that some countries, Syria in particular, had attempted to block the resolution and derail the conference, apparently to inflame tensions in the region.  Conference delegates were taken aback when the Syrian representative directed stinging words toward Dr. Kellenberger, accusing the ICRC of “lacking neutrality and objectivity.”


UN Watch Executive Director Hillel Neuer congratulating Swiss Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey. (November 2005)








(left to right) Swiss envoy Ambassador Didier Pfirter—whose shuttle diplomacy led to the admission of the Israeli and Palestinian relief societies into the Red Cross movement—addressing a UN Watch audience, including its Chairman Alfred H. Moses and Executive Director Hillel Neuer. (November 2005)





Receiving awards in the shape of the new Red Crystal emblem are (left to right): Ambassador Didier Pfirter, Swiss special envoy on the emblem issue; François Bugnion and Olivier Durr, ICRC Director and Advisor for International Law and Cooperation within the Movement.  UN Watch Co-Chair David Harris (standing on the right) led a delegation from the American Jewish Committee who recognized the officials’ efforts in resolving the emblem issue. (March 2006)

UN Watch