Opening address

From: “Council of Delegates” November 26, 2011 Geneva – Distributed Version

On behalf of my colleagues, the members in the Standing Commission, it gives me great pleasure to welcome you, to this Council of Delegates, on the eve of the 31st International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent. This is a meeting of the Movement. We come together here as a family, all around the same table – the ICRC the Federation, all National Societies. On Monday, we are joined by our perhaps most important partners, the governments at a Conference, which will stake out our path for action for years to come. As always, its agenda is comprehensive and topical, seeking to address issues that are truly of joint humanitarian concern. I would like to reflect a moment on the word Movement.

The Oxford dictionary gives interesting definitions: an act of moving but also general activity or bustle and – often with modifier – a group of people working together to advance their shared political, social, or artistic ideas and even as a campaign undertaken by a political, social, or artistic movement. Interesting words – working together to advance shared ideas. Our Red Cross/Red Crescent certainly fulfils these criteria of a Movement! The word implies action, something happening, moving. Again, I believe that’s what the RCRC is all about: helping, delivering, supporting, building, advocating.

Is Movement a synonym for an organization? Hardly; most would probably disagree. I do, however, firmly believe that the Movement can act as an organisation – at its best. That is, when we coordinate our cooperation in joint operations, when we act together to deliver emergency response, when we lobby for recognition of our role and mandate towards governments, when we advocate for human and humanitarian values. Then we are seen as one. Perception is also reality, as an old familiar saying goes. In our case, the perception is that the RCRC is one, it is the ‘common good’, one of the best known brands in the world, which is always there when needed, in disasters and conflicts but also in local and even individual situations of need.

We are proud of being part of a global Movement, which reaches widely and deeply. We are present all over; it is even a condition for recognition that we cover the entire territory of our home nation. How do we use this presence when facing an ever changing environment? Can we adapt to new developments and needs? Do we know what awaits us behind the bend? Traditional patterns are changing; we cannot solve tomorrow’s problems with answers from yesterday. ‘Every organization must be prepared to abandon everything it does to survive in the future’, said Peter Drucker already early in the previous century.

He is the man who has been credited with inventing management. In spite of the Council working only today, we have important items on the agenda: We are asked to define a Movement position on nuclear weapons and parameters for our cooperation with other, external humanitarian organisations; to adopt guidance for National Societies in armed conflict and other situations of violence and to consider the evaluation of the Strategy for the Movement and its recommendations for the incoming, new Standing Commission, which takes up its mandate at the end of the Conference next week. The implementation of the MoU between the MDA in Israel and the Palestine Red Crescent is also an issue on our agenda before continuing to the Conference floor. (Segue alla pagina successiva >>)