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I am ever impressed when I travel to witness the wide experience of National Societies acting as auxiliary to the public authorities, as envisaged by the Principle of Independence. The areas of cooperation are many and varied as our mandate itself – be it in areas such as violence prevention and health programming, a focus on the promotion of disaster law or disaster risk reduction and emergency response and many others beside.

This privileged role is conferred on National Societies in international and domestic law. And yet it is not enough for this status to exist on paper. To achieve its potential, the auxiliary role needs to be nurtured by both Government and National Society through continually defining mutually agreed activities to meet critical needs in full respect and compliance with the Fundamental Principles.

A sustained and consistent dialogue between authorities and the National Society is key. The International Conference affords a wonderful opportunity for us to engage in discussions with our Government counterparts and identify areas of common priority for the coming years. This will be formally done through the signing of pledges and resolutions but also more informally through experiences such as the Humanitarian Dialogue. I encourage us all to seize the opportunity to think creatively and expansively together with our national authorities on how we best can address vulnerabilities and humanitarian challenges.

It undoubtedly takes skill, commitment and effort to maintain our independence while acting as an auxiliary of the public authorities on humanitarian issues. It is a role we cannot take for granted and we must continually prove our efficacy to the government and, more importantly, to the people.