Innovative measures to help people in need: Switzerland and the ICRC to expand cooperationBern, 01.05.2017 - On 1 May 2017, Federal Councillor Didier Burkhalter and the President of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Peter Maurer, renewed and expanded the 2013 agreement on cooperation between Switzerland and the ICRC. The new agreement will make it possible to explore the potential for innovative measures in fulfilling the ICRC’s humanitarian mandate. It could involve new technical solutions such as the reproduction of medical instruments in the field using 3D printing and the use of innovative financing models. International Geneva will also play a key role in the cooperation between the ICRC and Switzerland.
More and ever-longer conflicts, growing humanitarian needs, and the increasing number of violations of international humanitarian law (IHL) are developments which pose major challenges for the ICRC. Switzerland supports the ICRC in developing innovative and appropriate measures to respond to challenges and help people in need. The cooperation between the FDFA and the ICRC is based on an agreement dating from 2013. At their annual strategy meeting in Bern today, Federal Councillor Didier Burkhalter and ICRC President Peter Maurer renewed the agreement and expanded it to cover new areas of cooperation.
In future, the FDFA will support the ICRC in developing innovative instruments in addition to the existing channels for knowledge and information sharing in the ICRC’s operations, their strategic dialogue and their common mission to strengthen IHL. This includes for example a new financing model known as the humanitarian impact bond, by which investors are compensated more closely in line with the degree to which the humanitarian objective of assisting people in need is met. With these innovations Switzerland also supports the initiative of the ICRC and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to bring together humanitarian actors, representatives from the private sector and research within the framework of the Global Humanitarian Lab (GHL). The GHL aims to develop new technical solutions, such as the reproduction of medical instruments by means of 3D printing, which as a result could be made available more rapidly to people in need.
In future, the FDFA will make more use of the instruments of development cooperation in working together with the ICRC in the field of humanitarian aid. These ‘humanitarian+’ measures complement short-term emergency aid and thus make it possible to take the complexity of many crises better into account.
International Geneva plays a key role in the cooperation between the ICRC and Switzerland. For the ICRC, Geneva acts as a hub for fostering relations with the UN agencies, the permanent missions and the Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. The presence of the representations, organisations and institutions makes Geneva one of the global centres for the development of humanitarian solutions, including the commitment to strengthening IHL. Switzerland and the ICRC work together very closely on this issue, which in light of the increasing number of violations of IHL has lost none of its urgency.
The ICRC is the SDC’s most important partner in humanitarian affairs. This year, the ICRC will receive some CHF 145 million in Swiss support. Thanks to its neutral and confidential working methods, the ICRC is one of the few humanitarian organisations – if not the only one – to be respected by parties on all sides of a conflict. As a result it is able to provide help to many people in need.