Humanitarian aid responds to digital and climate challenges – 33rd Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent comes to a close

Bern, 12.12.2019 - The 33rd International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent ended today in Geneva. The conference adopted six resolutions that will enable the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement to improve its actions and adapt them to the needs of vulnerable groups, in a world where the demand for humanitarian aid has never been so high. The topic of digitalisation was on the agenda for discussion, for example in restoring family links broken by crisis situations. The conference was opened by Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis on Monday 9 December.

The objective is always the same: to minimise human suffering during armed conflicts and other emergencies. This was the reason for adopting the Geneva Conventions 70 years ago. Against the backdrop of rapid technological change, the 3,500 delegates in Geneva discussed the opportunities and challenges posed by new technologies such as artificial intelligence, cyber operations and autonomous weapons systems. Conference participants discussed the impact of these developments on the implementation of international humanitarian law and the delivery of humanitarian aid. 

Digital innovations offer opportunities for humanitarian actors to improve their effectiveness, for example in restoring family links, one of the historic tasks of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. By way of a resolution, the Movement aims to establish practices that will exploit the potential of innovation, while ensuring respect for the privacy and data protection of aid recipients. Switzerland is highly committed in this regard.

COP25 comes to Geneva

Climate change and its impact on natural disasters is increasingly affecting humanitarian actors. Via a live video link from Madrid, experts involved in the COP25 Climate Change Conference had an opportunity to explore this subject further with delegates of the 33rd Geneva Conference and to enhance their mutual collaboration, so as to improve their effectiveness in disaster prevention and management.

National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, in particular, have an important role to play as they are often the first on the ground after a disaster and provide vital assistance. Switzerland intends to increase its support for well-organised and operational National Societies. In so doing, Switzerland will also be complying with the resolution on climate adopted at the 33rd Conference, which calls for national capacity building to ensure that climate-related events can be properly identified at an early stage.

Women and girls are at particular risk in crisis and disaster situations. Their voices and insights are essential to the success of humanitarian action. Switzerland supported the resolution 'Women and leadership in the humanitarian action of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement', which requires that women be represented on an equal footing at all levels of decision-making by 2030, including in the governing bodies and management of the ICRC, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, and the National Societies. To this end, the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, particularly in countries affected by crises, is called upon to systematically train women in leadership positions through specific programmes.

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Last modification 03.10.2018

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