Geneva, June 22, 2006 — UN Watch, a non-governmental observer at the 29th International Conference of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, welcomed the early morning decision, by overwhelming majority, to recognize a new, neutral emblem (the Red Crystal) and to admit the Israeli and Palestinian relief societies to the international humanitarian movement. The new emblem already had been added to the humanitarian symbols recognized under the Geneva Conventions last December.
The Islamic group of countries had unsuccessfully attempted to derail the Conference through last-minute legal and procedural maneuvers and demands that politically-charged language be added to the proposed final resolution.
UN Watch, whose late founder Morris Abram was one of the 18 experts charged by the Movement to resolve the emblem issue a decade ago, welcomed today’s final step in correcting the nearly 60-year old anomaly of Israel’s exclusion from the movement. “The international Red Cross movement today celebrates a victory for the principles of humanitarianism and universality over politicization and selectivity,” said UN Watch Executive Director Hillel Neuer. “We are encouraged that humanitarian concerns won out in the end, despite unfortunate attempts by some countries—Syria in particular—to hijack the Conference for political point-scoring aimed at inflaming tensions in the region.”
UN Watch congratulated Dr. Mohammed Al-Hadid, Chairman of the Conference and of the Standing Commission of the Red Cross and Red Crescent; Dr. Jakob Kellenberger, President of the International Commission of the Red Cross (ICRC); 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), for their able leadership.
In addition, UN Watch recognized the determined efforts over many years of numerous other ICRC and IFRC officials, including Christopher Lamb, François Bugnion, Jean-Christoph Sandoz, Olivier Durr, and Frank Mohrhauer.
UN Watch in particular commended the special leadership role of the Swiss government, in particular Swiss Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey and her special envoy Ambassador Didier Pfirter, for their longstanding leadership on and commitment to resolving this issue.