(Cover photo courtesy of ICRC)

GENEVA (January 10, 2024) – At a time of increasing polarization and escalating armed conflicts worldwide, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has published its Institutional Strategy for the next four years.

The strategy aims to address the challenges posed by an ever-evolving global landscape and emphasizes the organization’s core purpose of protecting and assisting people impacted by armed conflicts and violence.

In the coming years, the ICRC will prioritize strengthening its protection activities and its dialogue with both states and non-state armed groups, to ensure that they fulfill their obligations under international humanitarian law (IHL).

“The ICRC was born on a battlefield over 160 years ago, out of a refusal to be indifferent to suffering. That deep commitment to humanity remains central to our identity,” said Mirjana Spoljaric, President of the ICRC.

“As a front-line humanitarian actor, we see how international humanitarian law plays a vital role in saving lives and limiting the brutality of armed conflict. With this strategy, the ICRC asserts its determination to stand up for people during wartime to ensure that the rights and protections under IHL are upheld for civilians and combatants. The devastating cost of war must be reduced.”

One goal of the strategy is to make international humanitarian law a global political priority, reinforcing its universality and enduring significance.

The new strategy also reasserts the ICRC’s neutrality as “an action-enabling principle”; by not taking sides in armed conflicts, the organization is able to help conflict-affected people in contested places it could not otherwise reach. Likewise, it underlines the ICRC’s unique role as a neutral intermediary, which this year has allowed the organization to facilitate the release of hostages and detainees in Yemen, Sudan, and Israel and occupied territories.

“There is an inherent connection between IHL, humanitarian principles and peace, and in our role as a neutral intermediary we will seek to promote the humanitarian steps that can contribute to conflict prevention and resolution. This is a part of our unique operational approach that combines protection and essential services while promoting adherence to the rules of war,” said President Spoljaric.

Operating in approximately 100 conflict situations worldwide, the strategy sets out to enhance the ICRC’s emergency response capacity and ability to adapt its capabilities, partnerships and exit strategies in situations of protracted conflicts.

The new strategy further emphasizes the need to understand and respond to the impact of new technologies in warfare, and the applicability of IHL to domains such as autonomous weapons, cyber warfare and the use of artificial intelligence.

The ICRC affirms within the strategy its identity within the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. It commits to cooperating with all National Societies and the International Federation to strengthen the Movement as a credible and impactful global humanitarian network, in mutual recognition of respective mandates, roles and responsibilities.

Additionally, in recognition of the evolving attitude towards international humanitarian action, the ICRC commits to actively participating in thought-leadership on localization and decolonization of aid. By learning from and contributing to this necessary reevaluation of conventional practices, the ICRC aims to foster a more inclusive and equitable approach to humanitarian assistance.

Improved risk management and financial stability are also prioritized, with a renewed focus on diversifying the organization’s funding sources and accelerating the organization’s digital transformation.

Finally, the new strategy reiterates the value of competency, diversity and inclusion within the organization and aims to cultivate a workforce where people from all backgrounds feel respected, supported and have a deep sense of belonging. (ICRC contributed news/ BMN/BangsamoroToday)

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