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Strategy 2020: Goal 3

Prevent and alleviate human suffering in times of war and conflict and promote non violence and peace.

Civil unrest broke out in Syria in 2011, prompting an ongoing Red Cross Red Crescent response to help people caught up in the conflict. With the vast majority of civilians needing urgent help, Australian Red Cross continues to raise funds through the Syria Crisis Appeal. We provide support in practical, life-saving ways, such as distributing essential hygiene items. Photo: IFRC


Australian attitudes and behaviours strongly reflect humanitarian values

We want Australia to be a humanitarian society; one that is caring, compassionate, inclusive, and accepts people from all walks of life. We will be encouraging the growth of a society that understands, supports and promotes humanitarian values. This is crucial if we are to achieve our goals of improving life for people most in need.

100% of Australian organisations working in conflict zones have implemented an IHL action plan

Australian organisations working in conflict zones such as humanitarian groups, NGOs, businesses and medical practitioners need to know their roles and responsibilities under international humanitarian law (IHL) – also known as the laws of war. We’ll help all these groups to do this through an IHL action plan, which will ensure they understand the legal context they are working in and ultimately help protect their staff and the local communities where they work. Like us, all Red Cross and Red Crescent National Societies around the world have a duty to increase understanding and respect for these laws.

Australian Red Cross has contributed directly to the Movement’s increased impact in migration, disaster risk reduction, ensuring respect for IHL, the elimination of nuclear weapons and health care in danger

We will use our influence to boost the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement’s impact in current key areas of humanitarian concern. We will focus on five issues: migration, disaster risk reduction, respect for the laws of war (international humanitarian law or IHL), violence in armed conflict against patients and health care workers (the Health Care in Danger project), and the elimination of nuclear weapons. If other significant humanitarian issues emerge in coming years we can refocus our efforts to where the need is greatest.


We think humanitarians are people who:

  • are concerned for the wellbeing of other people. They strive to improve the lives of those who are suffering, and ensure everyone is treated with dignity and respec
  • help others regardless of their age, gender, nationality, race, religious beliefs, class or political beliefs
  • want to alleviate human suffering, protect lives and ensure respect for all people
  • have values grounded in kindness and compassion.

Red Cross is neutral and impartial in accordance with our fundamental principles, which govern our work in Australia and around the world. We don’t take sides in conflicts or in politics, which means we are there to assist whoever is most in need, wherever they are, regardless of their nationality, race or religion.

However we also stand by our grounding principle of humanity: we are there to prevent and alleviate human suffering wherever it may be found, ensuring respect for all people. We champion humanitarian values such as respect for all people, and we want to stand up for those who are marginalised.

Where we see humanitarian values are not reflected in public sentiment, we see it as our role to inform and educate the community of the issues as stake.

IHL stands for international humanitarian law, otherwise known as the laws of war.

All Red Cross and Red Crescent National Societies have a duty to increase understanding and respect for IHL. Organisations working in conflict zones such as humanitarian groups, NGOs, businesses, and medical practitioners can benefit from understanding their roles and responsibilities under IHL. This enables them to better protect themselves and others, and properly understand the legal context they are working in.

An IHL action plan (a policy and behavioural change outlined by an organisation) will be a powerful way to make sure information about IHL reaches those who most need to know – those directly working on the ground in conflict zones. We want to focus our work on specific stakeholder groups and increase our impact through strategic engagement.

Australian Red Cross is a member of the international Red Cross Red Crescent movement, with millions of members and volunteers operating in over 190 countries. The three components of the international movement are the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) which works in war and conflict, 190 Red Cross Red Crescent National Societies which drive humanitarian action in their countries, and the International Federation of Red Cross Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) which helps in emergencies.

Our movement's mission is to prevent or reduce human suffering, wherever it is found. Our fundamental principles guide us in this mission.

Migration, disaster risk reduction, ensuring respect for international humanitarian law, the elimination of nuclear weapons and the Health Care in Danger project are key areas of focus for both Australian Red Cross and the movement.

Australian Red Cross will mobilise and leverage the resources of the movement to amplify the impact of our work in these areas.

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