Thursday June 22, 2006
An international conference of governments and members of the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement has agreed to amend the statutes of the movement to incorporate an additional emblem of protection in time of war, to be known as the red crystal.
That means the crystal will have the same significance in the field of conflict as the red cross and the red crescent, and the same legal standing under the Geneva conventions.
Australian Red Cross was represented at the conference by a delegation headed by its Chairman, Greg Vickery.
Mr Vickery emphasised that the changes would make no difference in Australia where the Red Cross would remain the organisation's emblem, as it had for more than ninety years.
But Mr Vickery said the change paved the way for the Israeli humanitarian aid organisation Magen David Adom to be recognised by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and admitted as a member of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.
The conference also gave a mandate to the ICRC and Federation to respectively recognise and admit the Palestinian Red Crescent Society.
'This is an historic decision, coming after a decade of intense debate,' said Mr Vickery.
'It creates a framework for more effective assistance to be provided to people affected by the lengthy violent conflict in the Middle East,' he said.
The International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent brings together representatives of the 183 national Red Cross and Red Crescent societies, the International Federation and the ICRC, with representatives of the 192 States that are party to the Geneva Conventions.
The resolutions were approved by a large majority after two solid days of talking and negotiating.