International Red Cross and Red Crescent Conference in Geneva: for better compliance with international humanitarian law

Press Release, The Federal Council, 04.12.2015

Bern. Migration and preventing and responding to violence are two of the main themes of the 32nd International Red Cross and Red Crescent Conference. Today, the Federal Council decided on Switzerland's participation in the conference and its mandate. Switzerland will work actively to ensure better compliance with international humanitarian law. The President of the Swiss Confederation, Simonetta Sommaruga, will head the Swiss delegation to the conference, which will take place from 8 to 10 December in Geneva.

Switzerland will take an active part in the 32nd International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent where it will work to ensure better compliance with international humanitarian law and strengthen the global humanitarian system in both pre- and post-crisis situations. The title of this year's conference, 'The Power of Humanity' refers directly to 'humanity', the first of the seven fundamental principles of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, which marks its 50th anniversary this year.

The conference will focus on three themes: preventing and responding to violence; ensuring protection and access to humanitarian aid; and reducing the risk of disasters. Migration will take high priority within this framework. Thanks to its global presence and the some 17 million voluntary helpers around the world, the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement is playing an important part in managing the current refugee crisis. For this reason it is also an important partner for Switzerland in the implementation of its humanitarian objectives.
 
The Geneva conference, which has taken place in this country since 1986, is tremendously important to Switzerland.   As the depositary state of the Geneva Conventions and seat of the Red Cross Federation and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Switzerland has special ties to the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. For this reason it has been been very active in positioning the international conference as a global humanitarian event and has supported it financially. It is also very active in strengthening cooperation within the movement, modernising the conference, and enhancing its  international relevance.

Furthermore, in carrying out a mandate from the 31st conference, Switzerland has conducted a consultation process together with the ICRC with a view to identifying ways and means to strengthen international humanitarian law. The 32nd conference is now expected to decide on the implementation of these measures on the basis of the report on these consultations. In particular, the states are expected to conduct a regular dialogue on the implementation of international humanitarian law and to strengthen cooperation in this field.
 
The international conference convenes every four years the 189 national Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, their International Federation, the ICRC and the 196 High Contracting Parties to the Geneva Conventions. It is the highest body of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and one of the most important humanitarian conferences. The decisions made at the conference in the form of resolutions influence the global humanitarian debate, shape new policy approaches, and contribute to the development of international law. More than 4500 people will attend the conference in Geneva, including for the first time representatives of the private sector.

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