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Seoul 2005

Anywhere, anytime


Delivering global humanitarian assistance is a complex task that needs careful coordination. At a Council of Delegates meeting in Seoul in November 2005, participants discussed ways of improving working practices.

Media coverage of disaster situations usually highlights the significant humanitarian assistance that the components of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement give people who need it. The Seville Agreement that facilitates this action and covers the roles and responsibilities of each Movement component in all conceivable situations, rarely makes headline news.

However, participants at the Council of Delegates, held in Seoul, the capital of the Republic of Korea, from 16 to 18 November 2005, focused on the Seville Agreement and had a lively and open debate. This reflected the importance to the Movement’s components — National Societies, the International Federation’s secretariat and the ICRC — of having a workable agreement for organizing the international activities of the Movement. The outcomes of this debate form resolution 8 which establishes a monitoring process for implementing the Seville Agreement and adopts supplementary measures to improve its implementation.

The supplementary measures will improve the working practices of each Movement component and thereby the assistance given beneficiaries. The measures focus on areas that need improvement: the relationship between the Movement component that has the function of lead agency and the host National Society; the mechanics of resource coordination; problem-solving; and preparedness measures to ensure that services can be delivered smoothly when they are needed.

The supplementary measures recognize and support the mandate of host National Societies working in their own countries in situations of conflict, peace and emergencies. They specify that the host National Society will always be the primary partner of the lead agency when it is not lead agency itself, and must be consulted on all aspects of the Movement response, as defined by the Seville Agreement.

The Council of Delegates’ plenary and corridor debates, and the mandate of the working group established by resolution 8, reflect the importance of open dialogue and informed debate among members of the Movement. The achievements, tensions and constraints brought on by adherence to the principles of Seville should not be covered up, but rather acknowledged and managed.

The resolution 8 group has been given a mandate to consider suggestions on cooperation and coordination throughout the Movement and to consolidate these in the form of recommendations to the 2007 Council of Delegates. This provides an opportunity to identify good practice in delivering Movement responses and to build on this.

Establishing and maintaining a global agreement on the organization of the international activities of the Movement is an intricate and demanding task. The agreement has to be flexible enough to guide Red Cross Red Crescent responses in: active conflict areas where different authorities control changing territories; natural disasters covering earthquakes, volcanoes, flooding, tsunamis and their secondary effects; and complex and shifting situations where unrest linked to varying degrees with politics, economics and criminality can all be evident.

If the Movement is to retain its distinctive identity and relevance into the future, it needs to have rules to which all components adhere. The rules elaborated in the Seville Agreement and supplementary measures can ensure that Movement components mobilize appropriate resources that are welcomed by beneficiaries and delivered in ways that will not jeopardize long-term access to beneficiaries and resources.

The Republic of Korea National Red Cross President
Han Wan-Sang.







ICRC President Jakob Kellenberger.










Youth members perform.

Victoria Gardener
Victoria Gardener is ICRC head of sector for Movement issues in Geneva.

United and stronger


The International Federation held its General Assembly in Seoul, Republic of Korea.

The 15th session of the General Assembly of the International Federation took place in Seoul, Republic of Korea, from 11 to 15 November 2005. Its main output was the adoption of a Global Agenda with four main goals designed to contribute to the United Nation’s Millennium Development Goals.

The four goals are: to reduce the number of deaths and injuries caused by disaster and the impact of disasters on people’s lives; to improve methods of dealing with public health crises; to combat intolerance and discrimination; and to build Red Cross Red Crescent capacity at the community level to prepare for and cope with threats to lives and livelihoods.

The General Assembly, which is the highest decision-making body of the International Federation, fulfilled a packed agenda to the satisfaction of most participants, particularly President Juan Manuel Suárez del Toro Rivero, who described it as “a wonderful assembly, with a good atmosphere, rich in terms of substance and a great degree of consensus, a new governing board, an assembly which made the International Federation more united and stronger”.

The assembly opened with a display of Korean drumming, the first indication of the talents of the Republic of Korea National Red Cross, which is celebrating its centenary. Opening the four days of meetings, the president of the National Society, Han Wan-Sang, called on all present to “rededicate ourselves to the ideals of humanitarianism”. The president of the Republic of Korea, Roh Moo-Hyun, noted, “We all share the same hope — to overcome conflict, to establish peace and to ensure human dignity.”

Among the major items of business on day one was the report of the International Federation’s secretary general, Markku Niskala, which included the presentation of a new operating model, based on the development of performance measures in the four core areas of Strategy 2010. Presenting the report of the Governing Board, President Suárez del Toro touched on the challenges posed by financial constraints, major relief operations such as the response to the devastating Indian Ocean tsunami and a proposal from the Inter-Agency Steering Committee for the International Federation to take a global lead in emergency shelter. In his keynote speech, the president urged everyone to rise to the challenge of making the International Federation a strong leader, responding to the call of “so many vulnerable people who rely on us”.

An important milestone was reached on the opening day — the enlargement of the International Federation to 183 National Societies, with Comoros and Timor-Leste being added to the family. Election fever gripped delegates on the second day of the assembly. Incumbent President Suárez del Toro topped the poll and pledged “a renewed commitment to the most vulnerable”.

A new Governing Board was elected on day three, together with four new vice-presidents. These were Raymond Forde (Barbados Red Cross Society), Shimelis Adugna (Ethiopian Red Cross Society), Tadateru Kanoe (Japanese Red Cross Society) and Bengdt Westerberg (Swedish Red Cross). Governing Board representatives come from the National Societies of Algeria, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Britain, China, Côte d’Ivoire, Ecuador, France, Haiti, Honduras, Iran, the Netherlands, the Philippines, the Republic of Korea, Somalia, South Africa, Sudan and Turkey.

There was an often emotional celebration of the best of the International Federation’s humanitarian traditions, with the presentation of the first Henry P. Davison awards, named in honour of the founder of the League of Red Cross Societies, today’s International Federation. Appropriately, the great grandson of the founder, Henry P. Davison, was on hand to present the awards.

Fittingly, at the closing ceremony, the last word was left to young Korean Red Cross volunteers, who enacted a colourful play, full of magic, harmony and humanity.

President Juan Manuel Suárez del Toro Rivero stands with Mr Han, Secretary General Markku Niskala and meeting Participants.






A packed meeting hall.





Traditional Korean drummers.





More Red Cross youth.


Joe Lowry
Joe Lowry is International Federation
information and reporting delegate.



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