The Red Cross and Red Crescent Emblem

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Progress on Red Cross/Red Crescent emblem issue
-- April 14/2000

The first meeting of the joint working group (JWG) on the emblems, which met on 13-14 April in Geneva, has agreed a way forward on the emblem issue. Christina Magnuson of the Swedish Red Cross and Ambassador Absa Claude Diallo of Senegal, chairmen of the JWG, announced that it favoured the creation of a additional protective emblem. This would mean agreeing a Third Additional Protocol to the Geneva Conventions.

The joint working group has representatives from 16 states, including all five permanent Security Council members, and 8 representatives from the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. It was set up following a resolution adopted by the 27th International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent in November 1999. That resolution called for a comprehensive solution to the emblem issue, as rapidly as possible, acceptable to all parties in both content and process.

The JWG was asked to find a solution for those humanitarian societies which do not want to use either the red cross or the red crescent, and to do so in a way which reinforced the protective role of the current emblems and the unity of the Movement.

The proposal means that an additional protective emblem would be used alongside the red cross and red crescent. Currently national societies have to use either the red cross or the red crescent as defined by the Geneva Convention of 1949. The Israeli society, the Magen David Adom, does not wish to use either and the Kazakh and Eritrean societies would prefer to use the red cross and the red crescent together. Although in operational terms these societies are fully part of the Red Cross family, they are not recognized by the ICRC, nor are they full members of the International Federation, because they do not comply with the statutes in force.

As a demonstration of what the change might mean, the joint working group is using the example of a red diamond as an additional emblem.

Such an emblem could carry within it an indicative symbol appropriate to a particular national society. National societies which are happy with the existing emblems would continue to use them.

This idea will now be tested among the 188 states party to the Geneva Conventions, the 176 national Red Cross and Red Crescent societies, and the unrecognized societies.

A decision to proceed with the preparation of a draft protocol, including the design of an additional emblem, would be made by the Standing Commission of the Movement. A diplomatic conference of states could then be called in the autumn, followed by an International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent (states and the RCRC Movement), shortly afterwards, to agree a Third Additional Protocol and change the Movementís statutes.

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