Yet, all these people of goodwill have not been able to serve
under the same symbol - or emblem, as we call it. The emblem
is crucial, as it provides protective cover vital to their
work. And over the years, at varying intensities, proposals
for new emblems have been put forward, the history and reasons
for which are well documented.
When I was asked by the Standing Commission in 1996 to chair
a working group to re-examine the emblem issue with the aim
of overcoming the present impasse, we embarked on our work
with the deep conviction that we needed not only to tackle
the immediate problems, but also to find a long-term solution.
The idea was to create an additional distinctive emblem which
would serve any state or National Society unable to use one
of the existing emblems because local perceptions made them
unacceptable in certain contexts. Some National Societies
would like to see a new emblem which would replace the cross,
crescent and lion and sun and which would be embraced and
accepted by all. We know that this is wishful thinking. But
we are convinced that an additional emblem, with the proposed
design and criteria for use, would be a step that, in the
long run, would favour unity and universality.
After much careful work, long meetings and thoughtful discussions,I
am hopeful that reason will overcome emotion and enable us
to focus on our sincere aim to create more and better opportunities
to protect and aid victims of war and violence. Recent events
in the Middle East have resulted in tragic consequences: the
death of a Palestine Red Crescent driver, the destruction
of ambulances of the Palestine Red Crescent and of the Magen
David Adom, and injuries to their staff. These developments
underline further the need for us all to go forward in a common
The planned Diplomatic Conference, which would have adopted
a Third Protocol additional to the Geneva Conventions of 1949,
whereby a new emblem would have been given international recognition
and status alongside the three existing emblems, was postponed
owing to the latest round of violence in the Middle East.
The Standing Commission has unanimously expressed its support
for the work done so far, including the preparation of a draft
protocol. It is my hope that the continuing efforts of the
Swiss government, as depositary of the Geneva Conventions,
will lead to a resumption of the work and the early achievement
of the desired outcome.