What objectives will effective humanitarian diplomacy achieve?

  • More frequent consideration by decision makers and opinion leaders of the interests of vulnerable people;
  • Greater access to and influence with decision makers;
  • Greater humanitarian access and space for National Societies and the International Federation;
  • Strong visibility for and public understanding of Red Cross and Red Crescent activities;
  • Stronger capacity to mobilise all relevant resources; and

The facilitation of effective partnerships when responding to the needs of the vulnerable.

It is only through the establishment of humanitarian diplomacy as an integral part of the day to day work of National Societies and the International Federation, with the necessary capacities in place, that the humanitarian objectives referred to above can be effectively realised. The fundamental aim of this policy is to establish humanitarian diplomacy as a permanent mindset across all National Societies and the International Federation. Humanitarian diplomacy includes advocacy, negotiation, communication, formal agreements and other measures.

The decision to engage in humanitarian diplomacy is not a choice, but a responsibility. It is a responsibility that flows from the privileged access enjoyed by National Societies as auxiliaries to the public authorities in the humanitarian field. It flows from the independence of the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement, from the breadth of its humanitarian activities across the globe, its community base with tens of millions of volunteers and the observer status at the United Nations General Assembly enjoyed by the International Federation and the ICRC.

The responsibility is a logical extension of the commitment of National Societies and the International Federation to the fundamental principle of humanity – a commitment that is accepted worldwide as prevailing above all others because of its linkage to international humanitarian law, the Statutes of the Movement and the International Federation Constitution. An organisation of this kind, with its unique potential to exert considerable influence on decision makers across the world, has a manifest responsibility to do so.

As the essential characteristic of the Red Cross Red Crescent is to act, and not to remain passive,2 this policy urges actions on the part of the International Federation and National Societies that measure up to that responsibility.

Download: Humanitarian diplomacy

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Document data

National Societies
Humanitarian diplomacy
Document type
Policy document