I am sure everybody agrees that we have had a most stimulating and interesting
debate during this first session of the Joint Working Group.
Even though I said at the outset that we were not required to produce
a definitive solution at this meeting, I am very pleased to note that
substantial progress has been made.
We have noted broad agreement around the table on some important points:
also took note of the generous offer by the Government of Switzerland to
facilitate the hosting of the required diplomatic conference.
the problems posed by the present situation concerning the emblems are
resolved, it will not be possible for the Movement to reach universality.
There was recognition that this matter is important not just to States
and National Societies, but also to the Movement because of the Fundamental
- We need
to proceed towards a solution on the basis of a very broad consensus.
This needs to pay proper regard to the interests and concerns of both
States and National Societies.
- That the
solution option presented in the paper of October 1998 is an acceptable
basis for further negotiations. This will involve the conclusion of
a Third Additional Protocol to the Geneva Conventions. Such a Protocol
should establish a new protective Emblem which would stand alongside
the existing Emblems described in the First Geneva Convention. It should
be designed in a way which makes possible the insertion of an indicative
sign relevant to the National Societies using it. There will also be
a need for consequential amendments to the Movement Statutes.
- This project
should be the subject of intensive consultations with governments and
National Societies, and drafting should take account of suggestions
received during this process. Special account will be taken of the need
for consultations with countries directly affected by the proposed solution.
should, initially, be entrusted to the ICRC and the International Federation,
working together with the Secretariat of the Standing Commission. Members
of the Joint Working Group will be kept up to date with the progress
of drafting so that they may provide their suggestions and, importantly,
assist the consultation process in their own regions. A working paper
is being distributed by the ICRC to facilitate this work.
- The outcome
will be a legally sound product, negotiated as rapidly as possible but
over a time frame which meets the practical needs of both governments
and National Societies, and the legal requirements applicable to the
convening of international conferences.
- The Joint
Working Group will meet, if needed, on 13-14 June 2000 to consider reports
on drafting and the consultations conducted, and to finalise its recommendations
to the Standing Commission.
Distinguished colleagues, this summary of the work we have done reflects
very well indeed on our determination to complete our work within a time
frame consistent with the mandate obligations provided by the Council of
Delegates and the International Conference in 1999.
I very much look forward to the work periods ahead, for I am sure they will
demonstrate clearly the readiness of our Movement to move into this new
millennium with world-wide coverage, truly marshalling the power of humanity.
I hope that our work will make it possible to bring all peoples in as many
countries as possible within the umbrella of the Red Cross Red Crescent
Movement, in the very near future.