“The integrity and ethical behavior of each component of the Movement, at an individual level as well as at an institutional level, is of paramount importance to the Movement as a whole.”
The Statutory Meetings of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement in 2019 took on the issue of trust in the Movement as a major theme. They acknowledged the extraordinary stresses on public trust of many traditional institutions due to social, political and technological changes around the world. In this environment, a key element for the Movement to continue to enjoy the trust of the public, Governments, partners and donors, is our ability to demonstrate the highest levels of integrity and ethics.
A desire to ensure integrity and ethical behavior is what prompted the Statement on Integrity of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, adopted by the Council of Delegates in December 2019.The Statement provides commitments for individual and collective action to make the Movement accountable, transparent, and ethical.
The Statement expresses commitments around nine areas related to integrity::
1. Maintaining and promoting the Fundamental Principles
2. Ensuring that our workplaces are safe for all and respect for and inclusion of diversity and gender balance within our workforce
3. Ensuring compliance with individual behavioral standards and whistle-blower protection
4. Accountability to the communities we work with
5. Accountability to donors, access to institutional and financial records, including privacy and ensuring data-protection
6. Pooling resources and experiences regarding strengthening integrity
7. Revision of statutory and legal base and related regulatory and policy frameworks
8. Conditions of partnerships reflecting firm commitment to integrity
9. IFRC Compliance and Mediation Committee (CMC), IFRC Office of Internal Audit and Investigations (OIAI) and ICRC Ethics, Risk and Compliance Office (ERCO)
In order to further the Movement’s commitment to integrity and realize the commitments set out in the Statement, a Working Group for the Follow-Up of the Movement Statement of Integrity was set up. It comprises highly experienced National Society leaders from around the world, the ICRC and the IFRC, together with representatives of the Standing Commission and the IFRC Compliance and Mediation Committee in an advisory capacity. The IFRC and the ICRC currently serve as the Group’s co-chairs.
After it was set up, the Group agreed upon terms of reference and drew up its Action Plan. The Plan initially calls for thinktank events, webinars, and research work, as well as the consolidation of a “library” of integrity-related policies and guidance.
In October 2021, the Working Group held a successful session on the integrity theme in Planet:Red. There were over 50 participants from National Societies, the IFRC and the ICRC. A live poll was conducted with the participants to determine what aspects of integrity they consider to be most important. Their highest priority was “understanding/adherence to the Fundamental Principles”, followed by “transparent, diverse, and principled leadership”, “accountability to affected people” and “accountability and financial management and systems”. This session and its discussions helped shape the Group’s future work and improve its ability to accurately reflect the diverse perspectives across the Movement.
In the run-up to the Council of Delegates 2022, a workshop on strengthening integrity within the Movement will further invite the Movement components to consider their progress towards the commitments in the Statement, share different experiences on strengthening integrity (particularly linked to some of the aspects mentioned above), and to collect ideas to foster the work of the Working Group on the resource “library” as well as thinktank events in order to make these most useful and relevant for the Movement components.
These discussions continue to be topical so as to allow the Movement and its components to keep investing in its capacity and to build and maintain its trust and accountability to all stakeholders, prime among the vulnerable persons and communities the Movement is mandated to serve.