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On 24 June 1859, Henry Dunant witnessed the Battle of Solferino. This experience inspired him to launch the initiative to found in Geneva the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). Switzerland takes the opportunity of this symbolic day to reaffirm its humanitarian commitment and, by means of several events it has organised, to encourage greater respect for international humanitarian law.
This morning, the head of the FDFA, Didier Burkhalter, and the president of the ICRC, Peter Maurer, have taken part in a conference on the challenges of humanitarian action organised by Switzerland at the University of Geneva. Before a public of international students participating in the Geneva Summer Schools of the UNIGE, humanitarian workers and government representatives, Federal Councillor Burkhalter stressed the need to modernise the system of humanitarian action to meet the challenges of the security of humanitarian workers and of respect for international humanitarian law. A discussion on these challenges then took place between Peter Maurer and Manuel Bessler, delegate of the Federal Council for humanitarian aid and head of the Swiss Humanitarian Aid Unit.
Parallel to this event, the Swiss Embassy in Berlin is organising, with the German Red Cross and the University of Potsdam, an international conference on the challenges related to international humanitarian law, in which Peter Maurer will take part towards the end of the day.
Tonight in Geneva, the exhibition “Avec les victimes de guerre. Photographies de Jean Mohr” produced by the Musée de l’Elysée and the FDFA, will be opened, at which the FDFA will be represented by the State Secretary, Yves Rossier. The exhibition addresses the problem of the victims of armed conflicts and communities weakened by war, presenting the cases of Palestine, Cyprus and Africa as symbolic of the problem. It will be open from 24 June to 30 August at the Office of the United Nations and will then travel around the world for the next three years. Through its association with the Musée de l’Elysée in the production of this touring exhibition, Switzerland aims to demonstrate internationally its commitment to the victims of armed conflict.
These events have been held to mark the 150th anniversary of the ICRC in 2013, and that of the signing of the first Geneva Convention in 2014. Switzerland will participate throughout the year in the festivities in honour of the ICRC, its principal strategic partner in the humanitarian field. On 15 March 2013, the annual day of humanitarian aid, Switzerland presented the ICRC with a cheque to finance the recruitment and training of 150 ICRC delegates.