In 2013 consultations were held across Movement to reflect on our contemporary understanding of the Fundamental Principles. It was perhaps not surprising to hear contradictory views about the principle of Neutrality. Many of us expressed a concern that our principle of Neutrality can be used as an excuse for staying silent on important humanitarian issues while others emphasized our Neutrality as the key to gaining access and acceptance. Both perspectives are equally valid. Importantly, they are not mutually exclusive. It is mistaken to classify our neutrality as passivity or indifference.
Rather, active Neutrality is the key to unlocking doors so that we can reach all of those in need of our assistance. Not taking sides or engaging in controversies does not mean being indifferent. It is a key to ensuring we a trusted actor. Speaking out with Neutrality in mind means speaking to the appropriate people in considered ways, always balanced with the best interest of those concerned, to bring about the desired results today and for tomorrow.
So let the principle of Neutrality guide us and tells us what we should do: to maintain the confidence of all stakeholders. Each of us has a role to play in building the unique trust of our Movement and our humanitarian mission. No matter where we work or what role we play, we can contribute to building trust, understanding and acceptance through our every interaction – with local communities, the people we help or the authorities responsible.
It is when we take the time to explain who we are and what we do and when we listen carefully to the responses, that we get the best results. Through our Neutrality we build trust and acceptance that makes impartial humanitarian action possible.