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
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
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
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
ICRC President Jakob Kellenberger.
Youth members perform.
Federation held its General Assembly in Seoul, Republic of
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
A packed meeting hall.
Traditional Korean drummers.
More Red Cross youth.
ALL PHOTOS: ©THE REPUBLIC OF KOREA NATIONAL