Side events: 33rd International Conference

Side events

While not being part of the conference’s formal agenda, side events are smaller events in the form of workshops, debates, round tables, etc. that complement the official proceedings by providing participants with time to have informal exchanges and opportunities to network, showcase successful approaches to tackling humanitarian issues, test ideas, find new partners and inform and inspire each other. Side events should relate to one or more of the conference’s themes or subthemes. They should be interactive, practical and action-oriented, looking at innovative ways to address humanitarian challenges.

Although side events are not subject to the Movement’s statutory requirements or procedural rules, participants should not engage in controversy of a political, racial, religious or ideological nature, and discussions must not conflict with the Movement’s Fundamental Principles (humanity, impartiality, neutrality, independence, voluntary service, unity and universality).

Side events description

  • Monday 9 December, 15:00-16:00 pm

    Protection together: a comprehensive Movement approach
    Venue: Room Vevey & Espace Rivera
    Language: English
    National Societies are increasingly active in protection. This underlines the necessity to develop an approach that is mindful of respective mandates, areas of expertise and experience and considers the variety of protection risks.
    The relationship with authorities is especially important, considering their responsibility to protect. A common understanding grounded in comprehensive analysis of contextualized protection risks will strengthen our reach, relevance and efficiency.
    Goal: Establish an improved understanding of the current and potential role of Movement actors in protection and areas for collaboration with State authorities:
    • Demonstrate the current and potential role of Movement actors in Protection and discuss ways to improve the response to Protection needs;
    • Better understand ways in which Movement actors can collaborate and complement work in areas of protection;
    • Better understand the role of States as enabling the action of Movement actors, and National Societies as auxiliaries to their governments, outlining where cooperation, access and better understanding of the Movement’s role can lead to better protection outcomes.
    Outcomes of the side event will inform the work of the Protection Advisory Board (seven National Societies, the ICRC and IFRC) to develop a Protection approach of the Movement.
    Hosts: Protection Advisory Board

    Mass casualty incident: community capacity
    Venue: Room Nyon
    Language: English
    Mass Casualty Incidents (MCI) are one of the emergencies, Red Cross, Red Crescent and Magen David Adom societies are facing more and more. Natural disasters and violent acts are among the most common causes. The capacity of the community to effectively respond in the first minutes, is one of the most important factors in reducing the impact of the incident and saving lives. Join us for the “MCI – community capacity” session, where we will demonstrate how with a short training, in different languages, we can easily respond all to the incident and save lives with means at hand… No special training or knowledge are needed, just the willingness to respond, and being active during the session. Take this initiative home, and help your community be better prepared.
    Hosts: Ecuador Red Cross, Philippines Red Cross, Magen David Adom Israel and the American Red Cross

    Civil-Military Relations Between National Societies and Military Bodies
    Venue: Room Lausanne
    Language: English
    During a disaster response, the components of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement face difficult challenges while undertaking essential engagement with military bodies. These challenges are even more acute for National Societies (NS) operating in their auxiliary role alongside domestic military bodies, who often have a key role in disaster response.
    Humanitarian action during disasters, conducted in accordance with the Fundamental Principles, that builds and maintains the trust of both the affected population and military bodies is tough to attain in practice. Additionally, the requirement to uphold the principles in disasters is not always obvious.
    During this panel, select NS will share their experiences and best practices in engaging domestic military bodies and other armed disaster responders such as the national police. These NS will articulate how engagement was undertaken in a principled manner, that preserved and improved their humanitarian space and their ability to conduct humanitarian activities.
    For states, regional organisations and other entities from outside the Movement this event will provide insights into the methods employed by the Movement to undertake principled humanitarian action during a disaster response.
    The session will conclude with a question and answer session led by the moderator.
    Main host: IFRC and ICRC

    Encouraging National Emblem Legislation and Protection
    Venue: Room 15
    Language: English, Arabic
    This side event will bring leaders from Arabic Government representatives with Red Cross and Red Crescent societies leaders to discuss relevant issues related to our emblem, its importance and its regulations.
    The results of the survey which was conducted among most ARAB countries on October, will be presented, it will describe the current legislative situation, the misuse of the emblem and who is the body responsible to monitor its implementation, following each question a proposed action or recommendation will be discussed with the audience and it will be followed by practical experience of successful stories and future action plan. The Arab legal advisors will follow up and report the progress achieved during their annual legal advisors meeting.
    Hosts: ARAB Red Crescent and Red Cross Organization.

    Increasing resilience to prevent weapon contamination through behavioural change
    Venue: Room 5&&
    Language: English, Arabic
    Improving the lives of people affected by armed conflict, disasters and other emergencies is a core objective of the 33rd International Conference and Council of Delegates. Addressing the needs and vulnerabilities of affected communities is central to this goal as is ensuring that Movement operations, staff and volunteers can operate safely in dangerous environments. A prominent risk today in many contexts is that of weapon contamination.
    The ICRC and the Norwegian Red Cross have developed guidelines to help the Movement better manage the risks associated with weapon contamination. These guidelines aim to help the components of the Movement identify and assess the dangers posed by conventional weapons and/or chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear hazards. They outline a methodology for the design and implement of activities to raise awareness of weapon related and CBRN hazards and to facilitate change in the behavior of Movement staff and affected communities to avoid or limit the potential for harm. The guidelines are intended to assist the Movement in fulfilling its obligations under the Movement Strategy on Landmines, Cluster Munitions and other Explosive Remnants of War, adopted by the Council of Delegates in 2009.
      In summary, the side event will:
    – Introduce and promote the guidelines amongst National Societies,
    –  Further the capacity of NSs in weapon contaminated contexts to undertake risk awareness and safer behavior activities in their contexts,
    –  Highlight the work already being done by some NS in this area and promote future peer to peer engagement.
    The event will consistent if 2-3 speakers and time for discussion.
  • Tuesday 10 December – 13:30 -14:30

    Searching for missing persons: technological opportunities and challenges
    Venue: Room Vevey & Espace Rivera
    Language: English
    Hundreds of thousands of people go missing because of conflicts, situations of violence, migration or disasters. The Restoring Family Links (RFL) strategy 2020-2025, and the related draft resolution proposed during this 33rd International Conference, are manifestations of the collective will and constitute important milestones in increasing the efficiency of this core activity of the RC/RC Movement.
    However, the large magnitude of the global challenge of missing persons makes it clear that much more needs to be done. New technologies have great potential to increase the effectiveness and scale of RFL activities and to strengthen preventive efforts, so that people do not go missing in the first place. They also come with risks that need to be managed carefully. The Central Tracing Agency (CTA) is pioneering efforts to leverage new technologies in order to better address the tragedy of missing persons.
    The aim of this side event is to:
    • Showcase the CTA’s pioneering role and projects.
    • Show where the journey, fueled by innovation and an inclusive and participative vision, is going.
    • Demonstrate the great potential of new technologies, but also the risks to be managed.
    • Discuss what States and National RC/RC Societies can contribute.
    Lunch will be provided.
    Hosts: Government of Switzerland and ICRC

    Military IHL Manuals in the 21st Century
    Venue: Room Montreux
    Language: English
    Military manuals are a key tool used by many States to disseminate international humanitarian law (IHL) effectively and to facilitate IHL implementation by their armed forces. This event will provide an opportunity to hear from IHL experts from States that have successfully published and/or updated military IHL manuals in recent years, or that are in the process of doing so. Experts will share their good practices and lessons learned with respect to disseminating IHL to their armed forces, including how they have taken advantage of digital technologies. A forthcoming webpage will provide relevant materials ahead of the event, including access to the text of IHL manuals and copies of participants’ remarks or “fact sheets” regarding their IHL manuals. In this way, even after the event, States’ practitioners will be able to access one another’s manuals and the key lessons learned or good practices noted during the event. The event will be of interest to scholars and researchers looking to gain a better understanding of States’ views on IHL and State practice in disseminating IHL and implementing IHL in military operations.
    Main Hosts: Denmark and the United States of America

    Protecting Health Care: translative normative frameworks into practical solutions: studies on protection practice of State armed forces & gunshot wound reporting by medical professionals
    Venue: Room Nyon
    Language: English
    Healthcare in conflict and other emergencies continues to be under threat, but there are practical ways in which we can advance its protection. This event is concerned with two concrete avenues on how to achieve better protection of the medical mission.
    Two studies are presented that demonstrate the operationalisation of HCiD recommendations: A research project identifying operational measures developed and implemented by State armed forces to protect health care in military operations, supported by Sweden as a key priority for the international conference, and a study on medical confidentiality and access to care for weapon-wounded.
    The first piece of research focusses on how protection of the civilian medical services is very practically integrated in the planning and conduct of military operations. It identifies gaps and develops guidelines to implement protective measures.
    The second study is an analysis on laws requiring gunshot wound reporting by medical professionals. The study will become a basis to promote laws that are in line with humanitarian principles and facilitate access of the wounded to emergency care. A discussion of lessons learned and the subsequent strengthening of the legal framework on treatment and care for victims of gunshot wounds in Nigeria illustrates this study.
    Government of Sweden
    Health Care in Danger Initiative, ICRC

    Humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons
    Venue: Room Lausanne
    Language: English
    The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement has long called for the prohibition and elimination of nuclear weapons—based on their catastrophic humanitarian consequences, the difficulty of envisaging how they could ever be used in conformity with the rules and principles of IHL and the lack of any adequate humanitarian response capacity in the event of their use.
    Current international and regional tensions, ongoing nuclear weapons modernization, trends towards a new nuclear arms race and other factors have made the risk of use of nuclear weapons higher than that it has been in decades. This gives the efforts towards the non-use, prohibition and elimination of nuclear weapons increased urgency and importance.
    This side event aims to explore in a dynamic and interactive manner how States, civil society and the different components of the Movement can best collaborate, in this difficult context, to build momentum towards the prohibition and elimination of nuclear weapons, including through an exchange on how to best communicate their concerns and raise public awareness.
    Main host: Ambassador Socorro Flores Liera, Permanent
    Representative of Mexico to the United Nations and other International Organizations in Geneva

    Localization in Action
    Venue: Room 15
    Language: English, Spanish
    Trust in humanitarian action requires the RCM to encourage a learning culture and apply a flexible approach based on global standards and a common language within operations to improve the effectiveness of our responses. The session will explain the relevance of the preparedness for response (PER) approach in a changing world, highlight its development over the past two decades, and its contribution to operationalizing key guiding documents and standards. Participants will explore the PER mechanism to raise awareness of how it can support strengthening a National Societies ability to deliver services in an emergency. Hosts will share learnings from the 45+ National Societies engaged in the process. The session will showcase how an evidence-based learning process can strengthen local leadership and decision-making in response, increase the quantity and quality of resources to strengthen local expertise of responders, and ‘action’ the localization agenda. Examples of how PER can be applied in different contexts to support local and national Red Cross actors will be discussed, specifically how NS have reduced their emergency service delivery time, improved inclusion of diverse and vulnerable group in emergency assessments, increased the participation of women in decision-making, and contributed to strengthening the National Societies auxiliary role.
    Hosts: Canadian Red Cross, Honduras Red Cross, IFRC

    High Level Climate Science-Humanitarian Dialogue: scaling-up collaborative action toward climate resilience and addressing the humanitarian impacts of climate change
    Venue: Room 5&6 (13:00-14:00)
    Language: English
    Climate change is one of the greatest challenges that humanity is facing today. It is exacerbating humanitarian needs and making the lives and livelihoods of vulnerable communities more at-risk. The growing impacts of climate change call for stronger exchange between the climate and humanitarian communities. This coming December, two big events are happening at the same time – COP25 in Madrid, Spain and the 33rd International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement in Geneva. We want to bring together these two conferences to conduct a dialogue (via live-stream connection) to help raise climate adaptation ambition across the two communities.
    Hosts: Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre and IFRC
  • Tuesday 10 December – 18:30-19:30

    Protection of water in armed conflicts
    Venue: Room 15
    Language: English, French
    This event, jointly hosted by the Geneva Water Hub’s Platform for International Water Law (University of Geneva), UNICEF, the Netherlands Red Cross and the Permanent Mission of the Republic Slovenia to the UNOG, will focus on the protection of water and water infrastructure in armed conflicts.
    It will raise awareness about the increasing vulnerabilities of populations affected by armed conflicts concerning their access to water and sanitation. Speakers will explore ways to prevent and to respond to these vulnerabilities. In particular, the debate will focus on how to actively promote compliance with the legal regimes protecting access to water and how to improve the resilience of water and sanitation systems during and after armed conflicts.
    Speakers will include Dr Danilo Türk, Former President of the Republic of Slovenia and Chairman of the Global High-Level Panel on Water and Peace, Geneva Water Hub; Dr Mara Tignino, Reader, Faculty of Law and the Institute for Environmental Sciences, University of Geneva and Lead Legal Specialist, Geneva Water Hub; Ms Christine Pirenne, Head Humanitarian Aid, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Netherlands; Swiss representative (tbc); UNICEF representative.
    Co-hosts: Geneva Water Hub’s Platform for International Water Law (University of Geneva). UNICEF, the Netherlands Red Cross and Permanent Mission of the Republic Slovenia in Geneva.

    Families belong together
    Venue: Room Geneva
    Language: English , French, Spanish, Arabic
    Limited pathways to protection combined with risky migratory routes mean family reunification is the hope, and in many cases, a necessity for people who are enduring extended separation from loved ones in extremely vulnerable situations.
    The experience of the RCRC Movement shows the tremendous benefits of family reunification in terms of mental health, protection and removing barriers to integration. Against this background, a joint publication on the humanitarian consequences of family separation and people going missing will be launched at the event.
    This side event aims to raise awareness around the shifting vulnerabilities and needs arising from family separation, shed light on the work and expertise of the Movement in this field and explore how the Movement and States can work better together to reduce the suffering caused by family separation. Different components of the Movement, States, affected people and volunteers will bring their experiences to the conversation. The event aims to lead to concrete outcomes including the consideration of possible pledges.
    Moderator: Martin Ärnlöv, Secretary General, Swedish Red Cross
    Speakers: Alex Fraser, UK Director Refugee Support and RFL, British Red Cross; Anais Faure Atger, Head of Migration Unit, Red Cross EU Office; Expert(s) by lived experience

    Co-hosted by: British Red Cross, Swiss Red Cross, Swedish Red Cross, EU Red Cross Office and ICRC. Co-sponsored by the Swiss Government.

    The Role of Regional Mechanisms and Forum in Promoting Respect for IHL
    Language: English
    Venue: Room 18
    Regional and sub-regional mechanisms and forums play an important role in promoting respect for IHL. This side-event seeks to highlight the achievements and contributions made by such mechanisms in both Africa and the Arab Region in the areas of cooperation, dialogue, and exchange of best practices for the purpose of enhancing respect for IHL.
    Discussions within the context of the International Conference and its resolutions have brought to the fore the important role played by regional IHL mechanisms, in light of their technical and non-politicized nature and their cooperative working mechanisms based on regional solidarity. Participants will showcase existing practices in this regard and discuss ways to further strengthen the role of such mechanisms in fostering respect for IHL. The side event will also include the following:
    • Launching the 8th Annual Report on the Implementation of IHL in the Arab Region, prepared by the ICRC in cooperation with the League of Arab States.
    • Showcasing the “Regional Action Plan for the Implementation of IHL in the Arab Region for the period 2018-2020”.
    • Showcasing the efforts of the African Union and sub-regional efforts in Southern Africa and Indian Ocean States in this regard.
    Ambassador Dr. Ahmed Ihab Gamaleldin, Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs for Human Rights, Humanitarian and Social Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Egypt.
    • Professor Georges Abi Saab – Professor of International Law, Member of the Institute of International Law, former ad hoc Judge of the ICJ, former Judge of the Appeals Chamber of the ICTY and Rwanda ICTR.
    • Ms. Farida El-Khamlishy – Chairperson of the National Committee for IHL in Morocco (TBC).
    • Dr. Nawwaf El Shorian – Judge in the Court of Appeals and Representative of the National Commission for IHL in Kuwait
    • Ms. Mpilo Shange-Buthane, Director of Humanitarian Affairs, Department of International Relations and Cooperation, South Africa (TBC).

    What does it take to be “climate-smart”?
    Language: English
    Venue: Room Montreux
    The frequency and intensity of extreme weather events are increasing as a consequence of climate change. The humanitarian sector can no longer afford to be caught by surprise. This means projects and planning can no longer only be based on past experience and know-how – we must adjust to the new conditions, more uncertainty, long term changes and adopt climate-smart programming. This interactive and engaging side event will unpack what “climate-smart” programming means and how we can work together to ensure we are equipped to face rising risks in a changing climate.
    Hosts: Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre, Zurich Alliance, IFRC

    Good Offices and respect for International Humanitarian Law
    Venue: Room 5&6
    Language: English, French, Spanish, Arabic
    This side event aims at discussing “good offices” as a means to enhance an attitude of respect for IHL. “Good offices” can be understood as “any non-structured form of assistance given by a third party” (Max Planck Encyclopedia 2006) to bring the parties to a conflict together, “so as to make it possible for them to reach an adequate solution between themselves” (Article IX of the 1948 Bogotá Pact), including “the communication of conclusions on points of fact” (ICRC Commentary 1987). They may contribute to build confidence between the parties to a conflict, and among the wider international community. Good offices, their flexibility and their adaptability, may promote an environment that is conducive to respect for IHL today and tomorrow.
    The side event will bring together a panel composed of a representative of a National Red Cross or Red Crescent Society, a Government representative, a representative of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), a member of the International Humanitarian Fact-Finding Commission, and a representative from an NGO, discussing their respective perceptions, roles and contributions in advancing respect for IHL and in offering good offices.
    Host: Thilo Marauhn, President of the International Humanitarian Fact-Finding Commission

    RCRC Approach to Education
    Venue: Room Nyon
    Language: English
    Around the world, millions of children, youth and adults especially those living in areas affected by armed conflict, disasters and other emergencies see their everyday lives and their futures jeopardized because of lack of safe, continuous and equitable access to quality education. This leaves a critical and increasing gap – especially for the most vulnerable. As an essential public service requiring continuity and safety, education is particularly vulnerable to the “shocks” of humanitarian crises, yet it is often de-prioritized within the global humanitarian response.
    The communities which the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement (the Movement) serves view education as an invaluable asset for addressing systemic vulnerabilities, preventing and preparing for future crisis, and fundamental for rebuilding their lives during a crisis and afterwards. Indeed, education plays a paramount role in safeguarding human dignity, strengthening community resilience, fortifying economic development and building peace. The Movement is committed to supporting the resumption and/or access and safe continuation of inclusive and quality education, maintaining the relevance of our response to people’s shifting vulnerabilities and needs, and thus also strengthening the trust that communities place on us.
    Since the last International Conference, Movement components have worked together to strengthen a common approach to education, based on their respective added value. The purpose of this event is to present this common approach, take stock of efforts made, and to canvas the views of participants on ways to consolidate and scale up the Movement’s support to education needs including of people affected by armed conflict, disasters and other emergencies.
    Co-hosts: IFRC and ICRC
  • Wednesday 11 December – 07:30-8:30

    Strengthening respect for IHL and its implementation: the success of national IHL committees
    Venue: Room 5&6
    Language: English, French, Spanish
    Compliance with IHL is, to a large extent, dependent on how well it is adopted at national level. National IHL committees and other national actors play an important role in ensuring that IHL is implemented, by supporting their respective States to adopt legislative, regulatory, administrative and operational measures, or any others necessary.
    Today, there are more than a hundred national IHL committees, whose important role is recognized by several resolutions of the International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent and the roadmap for improving national IHL implementation that has been submitted to this session of the International Conference.
    This round-table aims to start a general discussion about creating new IHL committees and improving how they work together, particularly by:
    sharing lessons learnt and good practice about how national IHL committees are created and operate
    identifying the obstacles that hinder the creation of national committees and the initiatives and tools to overcome them, and identifying the specific ways in which commissions can work together at bilateral, international, regional and interregional levels
    exchanging ideas about the role that National Societies could play
    Main hosts: Belgium, the Belgian Red Cross, the ICRC, the Ecuadorian Red Cross, Indonesia

    Persons with disabilities in humanitarian action: advantages of local partnerships”,
    Venue: Room Nyon
    Language: English
    The side-event will focus on partnerships and localization and aims to address the role of local organizations of persons with disabilities in humanitarian partnerships and how we can work better to build accountability and enhance community engagement. It will also look at how to deliver effective and relevant humanitarian services inclusive of persons with disabilities (e.g. advocacy, experts to guide implementation, monitoring). The event will aim to highlight the advantages of local partnerships in strengthening trust between local communities and humanitarian actors including National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and to their knowledge and expertise in working with, and raising awareness of the specific needs and requirements of, persons with disabilities.
    Host: Permanent Mission of Finland; Finnish Red Cross; Permanent Mission of Australia; International Disability Alliance; ICRC and IFRC

    Combating Trafficking in Persons in the Context of Armed Conflict”.
    Venue: Room Montreux
    Language: English
    There has been an increased interest in the issue of human trafficking in conflict. In particular, in December 2016 and in November 2017 the UN Security Council has adopted its first and second resolutions on human trafficking (2331, 2388), which specifically addressed the issue of human trafficking in the context of armed conflict. These resolutions as well as many other documents acknowledge the inextricable links existing between the situations of armed conflict and trafficking in persons. They all highlight how armed conflict exposes those caught in the crossfire to increased risk of being trafficked both in and beyond conflict zones. Trafficking in persons has been particularly on the rise among refugees and internally displaced persons that flee conflict. Moreover, trafficking in persons in situations of armed conflict has a particular adverse impact on women and children. The objectives of the side-event is to gain a better understanding of trafficking in persons that occurs in the context of armed conflict, outline specific roles that diverse stakeholders can play in combatting trafficking in persons in the context of armed conflict, and exchange information on best practices and national experience in combatting trafficking in persons in the context of armed conflict.”
    Hosts: Group of Friends United against Trafficking in Persons
  • Wednesday 11 December – 13:00 -14:00

    Predictable financing in changing climate
    Venue: Room Lausanne
    Language: English
    In the coming years, climate change will continue to increase the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events. Vulnerable communities suffer the greatest consequences. Early warning systems have improved over the years, but people continue to perish and suffer from predictable disasters because, too often, early warning does not lead to early action. The common reasons for this are unclear decision-making processes, the lack of understanding of what action is worth taking based on a forecast and the low availability of funding for early action. Since 2014 National Societies have been piloting the forecast-based financing (FbF) approach that enables automatic release of funding based on scientific trigger. Early actions have been implemented through this approach in Togo, Uganda, Peru, Bangladesh and Mongolia. FbF is currently being developed over 20 countries. Last year, the IFRC established the Forecast-based Action by the Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (FbA by the DREF) to enable National Societies access to funds for early action with the FbF approach. We are collaborating with new partners and exploring disaster risk financing options to ensure that money gets where it’s needed, when it’s needed. Join us for a discussion on transformation and scaling up of anticipatory action and financing!
    Co-hosts: IFRC, German Red Cross and Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre
    Mr. Azamat Baialinov, President, Red Crescent Society of Kyrgyzstan
    Mr. Peter Felten, Head of Humanitarian Assistance Division, German Federal Foreign Office
    Mr. Jochen Luther, Scientific Officer Multi-Hazard Early Warning Services Division, World Meteorological Organization
    Ms. Zöe Scott, Head of Multilateral Programmes, Centre for Disaster Protection UK

    Humanitarian cash: giving dignity to people in crisis
    Venue: Room Montreux
    Language: English
    Cash assistance can provide a more timely, efficient, effective, flexible and appropriate form of humanitarian assistance, when the conditions are right. Cash enables choice and is more dignified and empowering for people affected by crisis. Cash can also help recovery through support to livelihoods and local markets. Cash assistance is, therefore, recognised as playing an important role in transforming humanitarian response, with the growing potential of using digital payments, mobile money and financial technology to reach affected populations.
    This side event provides an opportunity for Red Cross/Red Crescent National Societies to share their experiences and learning from cash programming in different contexts. A panel of National Society leaders and government representatives will reflect on the role of cash in humanitarian assistance, opportunities and challenges for delivering cash to people in crisis, and how to increase the routine use of cash alongside in-kind assistance.
    Host: British Red Cross

    Reimagining Volunteering
    Venue: Room Nyon
    Language: English
    IFRC and UNV will co-chair the global technical meeting in 2020 (GTM2020) on “Reimagining Volunteering for the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”. Marking five years following the adoption of the SDGs, development and humanitarian actors are looking backwards at good practices and lessons learned, and forwards to how the SDGs can be accelerated to achieve their targets over the next decade. The side event aims to highlight volunteering as an essential strategy to bring distinctive contributions to critical humanitarian challenges such as access to essential services and trust in humanitarian action. Trust is about communities trusting us, donors trusting us, and staff and volunteers, as members of communities, trusting us. Volunteers and staff need to be able to trust that not only do their organisations care about their safety, dignity and well-being, but donors including governments, UN agencies, partner National Societies and others, also have a duty of care that needs to be respected. Currently though too many staff and volunteers are injured or killed in a way that could have been prevented, work without the basic support, in terms of the necessary practices, materials, resources and safety nets. Key policies are not followed. The event will highlight how volunteering itself is changing as an important foundation for ‘reimagining’ volunteering, with the objective of better understanding the support needed for volunteers’ safety and well-being and furthermore a better understanding of what needs to change to ensure the safety, security and well-being of volunteers.

    Mr. Olivier Adam, Executive Coordinator, UN
    Ms. Winnie Fiona Mwasiaji, Deputy Director, Ministry of Labour and Social Protection, Government of Kenya
    Professor Matt Baillie Smith, Centre for International Development, Northumbria University
    Mr. Hossam Salaheldin Irahim Abuelnasr, volunteer, Egyptian Red Crescent

    Hosts: Ministry of Labour and Social Protection of Kenya, United Nations Volunteers, IFRC

    Making the most of National Societies’ contributions to sustainable development – opportunities and challenges
    Venue: Room 15
    Language: English, French
    In 2015, UN Member States adopted the Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development, including 17 SDGs and 169 targets setting out an ambitious and specific global agenda in the areas of poverty eradication, health, education, food security, nutrition, environment and climate change, resilience, sustainable cities, violence prevention and the rule of law.
    In many ways, National Societies around the world contribute to this agenda, because the SDGs have embraced long-standing areas of their work, such as building disaster resilience, providing vaccinations, and delivering community health promotion and water and sanitation support, among others. In recent years National Societies have also been taking newer areas of focus to scale, for instance in climate change adaptation and dedicated support for vulnerable migrants and displaced persons.
    However, the existing contributions and potential for support of National Societies in the area of development — and in addressing the root causes of shifting vulnerabilities — are often not understood. As a result, opportunities are being missed, in terms of national development planning, coordinated approaches to leaving no one behind, and connecting local level initiatives with national goals.
    The 33rd International Conference is an opportunity to raise awareness of the role and contribution of National Societies in achieving key aspects of the SDGs and explore the challenges and opportunities to scale up cooperation with the authorities and other partners, particularly with an eye to ensuring that no one is left behind.
    Main Hosts: IFRC and the Netherlands Red Cross
  • Wednesday 11 December, 19:30 – 20:30

    IHL – A Long Conversation
    Venue: Room 15
    Language: English, French
    “Let’s have a conversation about what it means to implement IHL obligations during partnered military operations. At this event, you will hear the unique perspectives and experiences of those involved in partnered military operations through a series of informal conversations. Participants will explore the existing practice and dynamics of support relationships. The event aims to profile the strength that comes when partners work together in training, advising and assisting on the implementation of international humanitarian law. Beverages and light snacks will be offered.”
    Hosts: The Government of Canada; Canadian Red Cross

    “ Help the helpers”
    Venue: Room 18
    Language: English, French
    Every day and all year round, humanitarian workers serve their communities on various missions. These initiatives are undertaken to rescue people in need and distress in the wake of conflicts, disasters and other emergencies to help their communities be more resilient in difficult times. Their actions are critical and a large number of those who respond in emergencies are volunteers; who very often live in the affected areas themselves. By promoting and protecting their mental health and psychosocial wellbeing we not only promote safety and health, but the quality of services, as well as sustainable humanitarian action.
    This side event “Helping the helper” will highlight the proposed resolution “Addressing mental health and psychosocial needs of people affected by armed conflicts, natural disasters and other emergencies” and specifically will:
    • Present research on the impact of crises on our people and what helps them
    • Share good practice examples of what different National Societies are doing and the impact of this
    • Include voices from the field about what hinders their wellbeing
    • Identify solutions including recommendations for pledges and how we can work better together.
    Hosts: Swedish Red cross, IFRC Reference Centre for Psychosocial Support

    Stepping up our joint efforts to end sexual and gender-based violence
    Venue: Room Geneva
    Language: English, French and Spanish
    Sexual and gender-based violence is a pervasive phenomenon that exists in every part of the globe. Often rooted in perception and stigma, victim/survivors of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) struggle in accessing the many services they need (health, protection, justice, etc). Different actors addressing the issue face many challenges in prevention and response due to the many misconceptions surrounding it, such as it is not a widespread practice during emergencies. The passing of the resolution “Sexual and gender-based violence: Joint action on prevention and response” at the 32nd International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement in 2015 was an important step in the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement’s efforts to address SGBV in armed conflict, disasters and other emergencies. Yet, many challenges remain both within the Movement and globally on how we enhance prevention and response to victims/survivors and how we build the enabling protective environment (diversity and inclusion and survivor-centred approach) that allows victims to recover and promote changes in behaviours.

    This interactive event will mix storytelling of the individual struggles faced by victims/survivors and a discussion on these challenges by a panel of experts. The stories and discussions will touch on the themes of access to services/justice, prevention of SGBV, and how to create a conducive environment. Throughout the event, audience members can ask their questions through an interactive online platform in real-time.
    Co-hosted by the ICRC, IFRC, Canadian, British, Colombian and Norwegian Red Cross Societies, Canadian, Norwegian and Swiss Governments and EU

    Protecting Civilians in Urban Warfare
    Venue: Room Lausanne
    Language: English
    The use of explosive weapons with wide area effects in populated areas is a defining feature of urban warfare and a major cause of civilian harm. When these weapons are used, it is estimated that 90% of those directly killed or injured are civilians, raising fundamental questions regarding implementation of IHL. And when critical civilian infrastructure is damaged, the indirect (or ‘reverberating’) effects significantly disrupt the delivery of humanitarian assistance and essential urban services, leading to disease and further deaths, and driving population displacement within and across borders, increasing the vulnerability of civilians.
    The ICRC and the Movement have appealed to States to urgently address this issue, as has the UN Secretary-General. A growing number of governments is voicing concern Austria recently hosted the international conference “Protecting Civilians in Urban Warfare” on Oct 1-2 ( to map the humanitarian consequences of the use of ‘wide impact’ explosive weapons in populated areas, the legal framework, and military practice, and to begin work to develop a political declaration.
    Key Note Speech: H.E. Peter Maurer, President of the International Committee of the Red Cross
    Panelists: Dr. Nilab Mobarez, Secretary-General of the Afghan Red Crescent Society, Alma Al-Osta, Humanity & Inclusion; Simon Bagshaw, UN OCHA; Amb. Elisabeth Tichy-Fisslberger, Austria

    Austria, Brazil, Bosnia and Herzegovina, El Salvador, Chile, Costa Rica, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Liechtenstein, Malaysia, Mexico, Mozambique, New Zealand, Norway, Peru. American Red Cross, Austrian Red Cross, German Red Cross, Danish Red Cross, Dutch Red Cross, Italian Red Cross, Lebanese Red Cross, New Zealand Red Cross, Norwegian Red Cross, Serbian Red Cross

    Locally Led disaster management– the Pacific Way
    Venue: Room Lyon
    Language: English
    National Societies and Governments from the Pacific are joining forces to showcase the formative journey they have been on to drive a locally led humanitarian response in one of the most natural disaster prone regions on earth.
    Panelists will share the factors that have helped shape the ‘locally led’ agenda in the Pacific including the importance of disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation to humanitarian action in the Pacific.
    You will hear about the unique challenges in the Pacific, including logistical difficulties due to remote and dispersed communities – a factor which makes localisation a natural obligation.
    Panelists will share their experience of partnerships – at the local, national and regional levels and between States, National Societies and civil society. And about how Pacific National Societies are identifying and responding to protection concerns in disaster response.
    With an interactive format that invites participation from the audience, we hope you will join us to hear the Pacific story and to share good practice and lessons learned – not just from the Pacific but from all corners of the globe.
    Hosts: Australian Red Cross, Permanent Mission of Australia, Permanent Mission of New Zealand, New Zealand Red Cross
  • Thursday 12 December 07:30- 08:30

    Media Workers and Armed Conflict
    Venue: Room 5&6
    Languages: English, French, Spanish and Arabic
    There is a great need to shine a spotlight on the protection of journalists in armed conflict, whose work is critical in informing the public. Despite the general protections afforded to media professionals under IHL as civilians, there are increasing numbers of media workers who have been targeted in armed conflicts, as a result of practising their profession. This panel will address the following matters:
    • discuss the protections afforded to journalists under international humanitarian law (IHL);
    • examine the role and responsibilities of media professionals in reporting violations of IHL during armed conflicts;
    • highlight the issue of impunity and the failure to bring to justice those who perpetrate violations of IHL and human rights law;
    • explore how States, National Societies, journalists and others can co-operate to develop practical measures to improve the situation.
    We aim to build on existing momentum and political will for the promotion of protection for journalists generated at the Global Conference for Media Freedom, co-hosted by the UK and Canada in July 2019, and to illustrate the importance of addressing the increased risks faced by journalists in conflict situations.
    This event will be chaired by Rita French, UK Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations in Geneva and International Ambassador for Human Rights. Speakers will include Stephen Rapp – American lawyer and prosecutor of the ICTR Media Case; Zaina Erhaim, Syrian journalist and communications manager at the Institute for War and Peace Reporting; and Paul Conroy, British freelance photojournalist.
    Hosts: United Kingdom, British Red Cross. Co-sponsors: Austria, Estonia, Germany, Latvia and Uruguay
  • Thursday 12 December 13:00-14:00

    Promoting safe and regular migration
    Venue: Room 18
    Languages: English, French and Arabic
    Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, adopted on 19 December 2018 in Marrakesh, has enabled crucial advances in the governance of the migration issue at a multilateral level, thanks to better understanding of the whys and wherefores. Its adoption by a very large majority reflects the shared commitment of the international community to regulate migratory flows while upholding respect for human rights and strengthening international dialogue.
    In collaboration with the IOM, IDMC and the Bangladesh Mission, the Kingdom of Morocco is honoured to announce that it is organizing a side event on Thursday 12 December, at 13h.00, on the fringe of the 33rd International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent, a global forum par excellence for exchange of views on international humanitarian issues, including those relating to migration.
    Through this event, Morocco hopes to reinforce the international momentum and reaffirm its determination to continue its efforts at national level, and support measures aimed at better alignment at regional and international level.
    Host: The Kingdom of Morocco, Permanent Mission of Bangladesh; Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre

    Launching the first RCRC Research Consortium RC3
    Venue: Room Geneva
    Languages: English, French, Spanish
    Bridging science and practices. Science helps us to understand our environment and societies better, to plan and analyse our missions, to define effectiveness, to translate our goals into legitimate targets and to be accountable. Challenges raised in Strategy 2030 are huge. Bridging practices and science is no longer an option, it is necessity.
    Today, combined with the research efforts of many national societies, the IFRC and the ICRC, more than 15 centres and 200 experts are mobilized for science-related activities to improve NSs life-saving mission and to pioneer new practices and approaches. Climate change, health, first aid, migration, disasters preparedness, psychosocial support, livelihood, shelters and many other areas are explored every day in the RCRC International Movement.
    Come and learn about RC3, Science Connected for Humanity, which responds to the pressing demand of national societies and their partners for better and stronger interactions between the centres work, the International Movement, universities and key stakeholders of humanitarian and social action.
    Co-hosts: French Red Cross, Belgian Red Cross, Kenyan Red Cross Society, Andorran Red Cross, German Red Cross, Canadian Red Cross, Red Cross of Monaco, Luxemburg Red Cross, Netherlands Red Cross, Costa Rican Red Cross , IFRC Global Reference Centres: Climate Centre, Reference Centre for Psychosocial Support, Global First Aid Reference Centre, Livelihoods Resource Centre, Global Disaster Preparedness Centre (GDPC), Caribbean Disaster Risk Management Reference Centre (CADRIM), Global Advisory Panel on corporate Governance and Risk Management of Blood Services (GA) and IFRC-Shelter Research Unit (IFRC-SRU), ICRC’s Centre for Operational Research and Experience (CORE)

    Investing in National Society development: how new partnerships and approaches can help the Movement build a global network of strong and sustainable local actors.
    Venue: Room Nyon
    Language: English
    How can National Societies – with the support of partners – strengthen their capacities, solidify trust and sustainability, and expand the delivery of principled humanitarian services?
    In the context of the Grand Bargain, the crucial role for locally-led humanitarian action is increasingly recognised, and progress is being made by some donors and international actors in shifting the ways they partner.
    Despite this, hurdles persist, and financing targets remain unmet. As national institutions acting through networks of local branches and volunteers, National Societies have a unique potential to marry local expertise and leadership with international systems and resources.
    To rise to this challenge, initiatives such as NSIA are evolving Movement support for National Society development, and National Societies themselves are exploring new approaches to financial sustainability and service delivery.
    This session will bring together insights and expertise from across the Movement and beyond to explore these issues and forge new collaborations.
    Hosts: IFRC and ICRC

    Non-State Armed Groups and International Humanitarian Law: Some Reflections on Their Practice and Interpretations
    Venue: Room Lausanne
    Language: English
    Compliance with international humanitarian law (IHL) by non-State armed groups (NSAGs) is a major challenge in nowadays’ armed conflicts. While it has been accepted that NSAGs are bound by IHL, how they actually view and interpret their international obligations has remained insufficiently explored. Considering this knowledge gap, Geneva Call and the Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights have embarked into a research project to increase understanding of NSAGs’ behaviors in conflict settings. The following questions will shape the different presentations of the panel:
    • Are NSAGs familiar with the international rules that apply in armed conflict? Do they agree with these rules?
    • Who and what influence the behavior of NSAGs’ fighters in the battlefield?
    • Have NSAGs undertaken humanitarian commitments?
    • How do NSAGs position themselves human rights norms?
    • What are the issues that NSAGs would be willing to regulate in the future?
    Main hosts: Geneva Call; Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights

    Regulation, Ethics and Accountability in Data Partnerships for Humanitarian Aid
    Venue: Room 15
    Language: English
    In the context of worsening humanitarian crisis, aid organizations are facing increased pressure to work more efficiently. One perceived avenue for achieving efficiencies is through innovative uses of digital technology and the leveraging of big data. However, it is a stark reality that most humanitarian organizations lack the necessary resources and expertise to be able to make effective use of the large amounts of data they collect in the pursuit of their mandate. They thus increasingly depend on, and share data with, external actors — usually private sector players — under the banner of ‘partnership’. While these commercial partners offer the expertise and technological tools and infrastructure needed to help aid agencies mine and analyze mass datasets at scale, their ethos is often at odds with humanitarian principles.
    This side event will convene experts to debate the regulatory, ethical, and accountability concerns associated with this model of humanitarian aid. The event will raise awareness of ways to harness the potential of data partnerships while ensuring that affected populations are not exposed to unnecessary risks. Experts will discuss how to constructively engage in partnerships while remaining beneficiary-centric, preserving accountability, and ensuring the application of the ‘do no harm in a digital environment’ principle.
    Hosts: ICRC, IFRC, Tilburg Law School, Privacy International, International Organization for Migration (IOM), United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS), United National High Commissioner for Refugees, Association francophone des autorités de protection des données personnelles (AFAPDP), Médecins Sans Frontières

    GLOW Red: Making women’s leadership a reality
    Venue: Room 5&6
    Languages: English, French, Spanish, Arabic, Russian
    From a small informal get together in Antalya in 2017 to over 136 members in 83 countries, GLOW Red (The Global Network for Women Leaders in the RCRC Movement) has moved the needle forward on women’s leadership in the RCRC Movement. Now is the time to celebrate this monumental progress!
    Join our panel of speakers for a candid discussion on what trust in the humanitarian sector means to them as leaders, and how gender parity and reflecting the population we serve can further build this trust. Panelists will speak to what has been accomplished so far and what still needs to be done to support women as leaders in the RCRC Movement. With a focus on the personal lived experiences of women leaders, panelists and audience members will have an opportunity to share best practices from their national societies.
    Participants will leave this side-event with ideas, best practices, and the drive to keep this momentum going!
    Main Hosts: Australian Red Cross, Canadian Red Cross, Grenada Red Cross, Maldives Red Crescent, Qatar Red Crescent, Swedish Red Cross, Austrian Red Cross, Kazakhstan Red Crescent and Côte d’Ivoire Red Cross