The ICRC Strategy for 2019-2022

An ICRC vehicle while “navigating” a river An ICRC vehicle while “navigating” a river © ICRC blogs

The present article constitutes a presentation of the Report “ICRC Strategy 2019-2022”, published by the International Committee of the Red Cross in September 2018.

 Every day, hundreds of thousands of civilians continue to be persecuted, abused, displaced, wounded or killed for conflict-related reasons. The human cost of war, direct or indirect, is indeed astonishing, with massive civilian casualties regularly accepted as an inevitable consequence. Conflict and violence are thus creating massive humanitarian needs throughout the world (more information on this topic can be found in the Report “The World Humanitarian Crises in 2019”) and the continuous (most of the time, intentional) disregard for international humanitarian law (IHL) has now become a common feature of all modern conflicts.

In this scenario, despite the existing significant challenges, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is progressively trying to carve out and negotiate the humanitarian space required to fulfil its mission. Indeed, saving lives, alleviating human suffering, and responding to people’s needs still remain the driving force of the ICRC’s humanitarian engagement and the focus of its commitments and efforts. With this in mind, the new ICRC Strategy for 2019-2022 aims at guiding the organisation and its personnel in the enhancement and development of their protection undertakings. In particular, by providing a compass for action for the next four years, the new Strategy intends to address the modern humanitarian crises, as well as to structure the ICRC’s adaptive capacities, both in the delivery of its protection response and in the scope of its humanitarian activities.

The Strategy is articulated in five strategic orientations.

First, the ICRC will have to influence and change the behaviour of parties to conflict, as well as strengthen its strategies, in order to prevent violations of IHL and alleviate human suffering. To do so, it will have to reinforce its role as a neutral intermediary and establish trustful relationships with States, non-State armed actors and other stakeholders. It will continue to build bridges with all parties to conflict, and endeavour to establish the necessary dialogue to carve out neutral spaces, prevent the escalation of violence and mitigate the impact of conflict on the lives of people affected. It will combine operational experience, technical expertise, diplomatic network and contextual knowledge with relevant internal and external information and data flows, to better understand the causal links between political and socioeconomic dynamics, technological developments, human behavior, and disregard for fundamental rights and IHL. It will then develop a solid base of knowledge and evidence in order to to improve its ability to anticipate behaviours that may cause loss of lives and human suffering.

The second strategic orientation involves improving the ICRC’s building capacities, that is, enhancing its ability to build relevant, sustainable, and long-term solutions, as well as improving its capacity to perform concrete humanitarian needs assessments. Humanitarian response must indeed be capable of dealing with more systemic and long-term problems and must address not only people’s physical needs, but also the mental health and psychosocial impact that war has on them.

According to the third strategic orientation, the ICRC will have to cooperate, that is work closely with the other components of the Movement in order to increase the impact of its activities. It will also have to develop more cooperative strategies with international and local humanitarian organisations, the private sector and academia that are consistent with its principled approach.

The fourth strategic orientation is related to the ICRC’s global workforce. ICRC staff and volunteers demonstrate their courage and dedication every day, by often sacrificing their safety and comfort to fulfil the ICRC’s mission. The ICRC is therefore committed to ensuring a safe and inclusive working environment, in which the diversity of its global workforce is respected, protected and valued.

Lastly, the fifth orientation concerns the digital sphere and requires exploiting the opportunities it offers and mitigating the risks it carries. In this regard, the ICRC intends to increase digital opportunities for accessibility and engagement for people affected by conflict and violence, especially in connection with restoring and/or maintaining contact with relatives and other loved ones.


Original report available here:

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