progress on the draft protocol which would create an additional emblem
for the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement has been achieved after six
months of extensive consultations. It represents a major success for the
process, started with renewed determination at the beginning of 2000,
with the clear objective of finding a solution before the end of the year.
The protocol has to be put to a diplomatic conference of states which
are party to the Geneva Conventions. This had been planned for the end
of this month, but will now be held early in 2001, following further consultations
conducted by Switzerland as the depository of the Geneva Conventions.
Until recently, there was a real chance for a successful conference this
year. Events have, however, changed the prospects.
"The ICRC understands the Swiss government's decision to postpone the
conference under the present circumstances," said Jakob Kellenberger,
President of the ICRC, "but the strong determination I had from the moment
of my taking office remains unchanged - to contribute to the creation,
as quickly as possible, of the conditions for full membership of the Movement,
of societies which have problems with existing emblems."
There is now wide consensus among the states on the need for an additional
emblem which could not be perceived as having any national, political
or religious connotations - a major achievement for all involved in the
"No one at the start of this year believed we would get so far so quickly",
said Didier Cherpitel, Secretary-General of the International Federation
of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. "The work done, and represented
in the draft protocol, is a clear expression of the wish of the world
community to achieve true universality for our Movement as soon as possible.
The past months have shown that our approach is working and we are determined
to bring it to a successful conclusion", he said.
An additional emblem would provide protection in conflicts where the use
of the red cross or red crescent is not well accepted. It would also open
the door to recognition and admission for the National Societies which
have a problem with existing emblems.
"The whole Movement is committed to universality," said HRH Princess Margriet,
chairman of the Standing Commission, "we are determined to make it a reality
and will be working with Switzerland with a view to success in early 2001."