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Champions of humanitarian values

Building a movement for all humanity

The IHL Advisory Committee volunteers used the blood-thirsty acts of violence in Game of Thrones as an opportunity to explain the laws of war and to reach new audiences.
—Yvette Zegenhagen, National Manager – IHL

In celebration of its final season, our IHL volunteers analysed every episode of TV series Game of Thrones, to find the show’s worst war criminal. The commentary had a cumulative global reach of more than 6.5 million people.

It has been a year of significant learnings about the human rights compliance frameworks that exist within external organisations and some of the overlaps with our proposed approach on International Humanitarian Law also known as the laws of war. 

We adapted this approach, moving from Action Plans to applying Best Practice in International Humanitarian Law, to focus on identifying and plugging the small gaps around corporate risk. We are now working to embed specific Laws of War best practice into organisations’ existing human rights compliance frameworks. With this new approach, we’re getting greater traction across the sector, and with many companies.

We’ve also achieved movement impact on several fronts. This includes supporting women to be better represented as leaders within the Movement and playing a critical role in influencing IFRC's Strategy 2030. 

We advocated for the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration. We continued to support the Asia Pacific Migration Network as co-chair and Secretariat, and ensured the Global Migration Taskforce is regionally represented and remains a key influence and reference group on migration-related issues for the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement.

Goal: Prevent and alleviate human suffering in times of war and conflict and promote non-violence and peace

Australian attitudes and behaviours strongly reflect humanitarian values

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

We have 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

Working with business

We worked with more than 20 companies, professional services firms and other relevant business and human rights actors on International Humanitarian Law action plans for the private sector. Rather than targeting Corporate Social Responsibility, sustainability or governance areas, we now target companies' Security and Risk areas.

The Global Compact on Migration was adopted by 164 States.

With the help of humanitarian sector players, we identified that organisations are interested in the concept of International Humanitarian Law Best Practice and that we need to strengthen the evidence base for this concept. 

As a result of advocacy by the Red Cross, the ASX Corporate Governance Council's Principles and Recommendations were amended to include a reference to the Laws of War. 

Promoting the laws of war  

We worked to develop a mobilisation strategy on raising awareness of nuclear weapons among young professionals to prompt action, resulting in the co-design of scalable social media-based campaign tools. 

Our campaign to prohibit the use of nuclear weapons and promote the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons continued. We wrote to all members of parliament, ran briefings for parliamentarians and published an opinion piece in Melbourne’s Herald Sun reaching a readership of around a million people.

Since September 2018, we have been delivering an interactive training module on the Laws of War for new staff and volunteers. Externally, we delivered training for the Australian Defence Force and regional militaries, Australian public servants through the Diplomatic Academy at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, universities and the humanitarian sector. 

We redesigned the state and territory International Humanitarian Law Advisory Committees and reimagined volunteering with our International Humanitarian Law program.  We recruited 69 expert volunteers from stakeholder groups to seven state and territory committees. In addition each of the seven committees include a representative from the Australian Defence Force, a representative from the state or territory Divisional Advisory Board and a representative from the state or territory Youth Advisory Committee.

The committees are supporting us to fulfil our mandate of disseminating the Laws of War (with a particular focus on the general public) and performing a critical advisory function for the International Humanitarian Law Program.

In the first example of national collaboration under this framework, we drew on their expertise to analyse how the Laws of War might apply to the action in seasons 1 to 7 of Game of Thrones. They also completed a week-by-week analysis of season 8 of the show, highlighting fictitious examples of war crimes. The concept received huge coverage domestically and was adapted for audiences around the world by others in the international Red Cross Red Crescent Movement.

The story was the most viewed web article we’ve ever published, and globally, the initiative resulted in more than 350 media mentions across print, online, radio and TV with a cumulative reach of more than 6.5 million people

Supporting our movement to be strong

We are part of the global Red Cross and Red Crescent movement. We worked with our colleagues around the world on disasters, migration, the humanitarian impacts of climate change, reconnecting families separated by war and campaigning for the elimination of nuclear weapons.

As part of the GLOW Red Network of Senior Women Leaders in the Movement, we continue to support more women to be elected into leadership and governance functions.

A global, coordinated approach to responding to the vulnerabilities of migrants

In the first half of the year we sought to influence the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration.

We made significant contribution to a strong final document adopted by 164 States. The Global Compact for Migration is the first global agreement around safe migration and will provide access to protection and assistance to at least 244 million people worldwide. The final document included all the key elements we advocated for during the negotiation phase, as well as a specific mention of the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement as a key implementing partner. 

We continued to be a strong member of the Red Cross Red Crescent Global Migration Taskforce. We advocated for and supported holding an additional meeting of the taskforce to coincide with "Migration Week", the adoption of the Global Compact for Migration, and other events in December. This resulted in new partnerships and media coverage of the issues we were highlighting and provided greater recognition of the role of the Red Cross and Red Crescent in support vulnerable migrants.

The Global Migration Taskforce and Australian Red Cross contributed significantly to the development of IFRC’s Strategy 2030 and as a result, migration is one of the top five issues of concern for the new strategy.

At least 244 million people will be protected by the Global Compact on Migration.

We continued to support the Asia Pacific Migration Network, which now engages 35 National Societies in the region to work together on migration issues.  We are co-chair and Secretariat, and in the past year we focused on linking expertise and interests of National Societies and Movement partners. This was a key priority the network and the IFRC Global Migration Strategy.  

The network, and the representatives on it from Red Cross and Red Crescent National Societies, are increasingly engaging in discussions on supporting victims of trafficking in the region. In the past year, this meant we were able to work more closely with regional platforms for collaboration in the region such as the Bali Process and take part in regional training on trafficking. 

We also took a leadership role in advocating for migration to be a key issue at the Red Cross Red Crescent Council of Delegates and the 33rd International Conference to be held in Geneva in December 2019.

In addition, we continued to engage and provide expertise to global and regional taskforces, meetings and working groups. We influence and share our knowledge on protection, missing migrants, immigration detention, restoring family links, trafficking, data protection, and migrant and refugee settlement.

What we learned

Supporting a network to influence policies

At the Asia Pacific Regional Conference in Manila in December 2018, we worked with our peers in the region on migration, disaster risk reduction, nuclear weapons, integrity and accountability, and better representation of women.

Alongside the conference, we supported two side events on migration and women as leaders in the region.

The Disaster Risk Reduction aspect of this outcome was difficult to achieve and did not pan out according to plan this year. We have diverted our attention and focus on preparations for the Asia Pacific Ministerial Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction, which will be held in Australia in 2020.

We need to advocate and start engaging more on these migration issues and raise awareness to our leaders.
—Soulany Chansy, Representing Laos Red Cross on the Asia Pacific Migration Network

Representatives from Red Cross and Red Crescent societies in the Asia Pacific region sharing their migration activities with colleagues at the Asia Pacific Migration Network Annual General Meeting, in Bangkok, Thailand. Photo: Australian Red Cross/Asia Pacific Migration Network.