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    ICRC president: “Humanitarian action cannot be a substitute for the lack of political solutions”

    Commissioner, Ministers, Excellencies, colleagues,

    From Gaza to Ukraine, Sudan, Yemen and the Democratic Republic of Congo, the International Committee of the Red Cross witnesses a global failure to protect civilians in armed conflict.

    States must urgently act on their obligations under international humanitarian law – to prevent and minimize this intolerable suffering.

    Humanitarian action cannot be a substitute for, nor should it distract from the lack of political solutions.

    The European Union and its Member States have supported international humanitarian law and principled humanitarian action.

    Today I urge you to do even more, to uphold your collective responsibility and exert your political influence in three areas:

    • First, as you make respect for international humanitarian law your political priority, reaffirm the universal values of humanity and equality.

    75 years ago, the world rallied around the Geneva Conventions to set limits to violence in war.

    Victory at the cost of humanity was no longer considered an option.

    I ask that you reaffirm your commitment to the letter AND spirit of the Geneva Conventions.

    Because interpreting international humanitarian law with increasing elasticity creates a dangerous precedent.

    Beyond words, and as part of your obligations, you can influence warring parties to respect the rules of war and reduce people’s suffering.

    • Second, ensure all people affected by war and violence, even in neglected contexts, have access to humanitarian assistance and protection.

    When the media interest is wavering, States can still maintain their political attention.

    You can increase quality funding – predictable and flexible – as it enables impartial and independent humanitarian action.

    The ICRC, with Red Cross Red Crescent National Societies, remain committed to working alongside communities to address protracted needs.

    • Third, protect the work of neutral and independent humanitarian actors.

    Red Cross Red Crescent movement workers and volunteers operate in an ever-riskier environment – deplorably some of them have been killed and injured.

    Humanitarian action is increasingly instrumentalized and discredited, including in the digital space.

    I ask state and political leaders to publicly back and support neutral principled and impartial humanitarian action.

    As divisions widen, with these three steps we can build from what we have in common – our humanity – to ultimately lay the foundations for peace.

    Thank you.

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