INTERNATIONAL COMMITTEE OF THE RED CROSS (ICRC)
Mandate and Mission
The ICRC is an impartial, neutral and independent organization with a mission of assistance for victims of war and internal conflicts as well as protection of their life and dignity. Established in 1863 by Henry Dunant, the ICRC served as a solid basis for the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement.
The work of the ICRC is based on the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and their Additional Protocols.
The four Geneva Conventions and Additional Protocol I confer on the ICRC a special mandate to act in the event of armed conflicts. In particular, the ICRC has the right to visit prisoners of war and civilian internees.
Armenia has ratified the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and its Three Additional Protocols.
The ICRC holds special legal status and jurisdiction. Though it has a special mandate based on the Geneva Conventions, de jure the ICRC is not an international intergovernmental organization, since it has no founding treaty and is not governed by states.
However, the ICRC enjoys almost the same immunities and privileges as international organizations. The ICRC signs bilateral agreements on its status with partner states in order to carry out full and effective activities in the given state.
The Assembly is the supreme governing body of the ICRC. It is a collegial body comprising between 15 and 25 co-opted Swiss nationals. The Assembly elects the President who also acts as the ICRC President. The latter represents the organization on international platforms.
For more information please visit the website of the ICRC https://www.icrc.org/en/who-we-are/mandate.
The presence of the ICRC in Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh (Artsakh)
The ICRC has been operating in Armenia since 1992, as a result of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
The legal basis for the cooperation between Armenia and the ICRC is the Agreement on the Status of the ICRC in the Republic of Armenia signed in 1993, according to which the ICRC enjoys a status equivalent to that of an international organization.
The ICRC has been operating in Artsakh since 1992, given the need of assistance for victims of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, thus laying the foundation for the ICRC mission in Stepanakert.
Memorandum of Understanding was concluded between Artsakh and ICRC in 1994. In fact, the ICRC is the only humanitarian international organization represented in Artsakh.
The current framework of cooperation between Armenia and the ICRC
Currently, the ICRC activities are aimed at addressing the humanitarian issues following the aggressive war unleashed by Azerbaijan against the people of Nagorno-Karabakh in the fall of 2020, as well as following the military aggression unleashed by Azerbaijan against the sovereign territory of Armenia on 13-14 September, 2022. Particularly, the organization is engaged in the following activities:
- The ICRC visits all Armenian POWs, confirmed by Azerbaijan, enabling ongoing communication (exchange of letters, video recordings) between POWs and their families/relatives.
- Assistance to the families/relatives of the Armenian missing persons from 1990 and 2020.
- Assistance to the border communities of Armenia.
- Assistance to search operations for the bodies of the fallen Armenian servicemen.
For more information on the activities of the ICRC in the RA please visit the website https://www.icrc.org/en/where-we-work/europe-central-asia/armenia.
International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC)
The IFRC was founded in 1919 in Paris in the aftermath of World War I. Originally called the League of Red Cross Societies, it’s main objective was to improve the health of people in countries that had suffered greatly during the war. It also sought to improve existing Red Cross Societies and promote the creation of new ones around the world.
In 1983, it became the League of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, and finally—in 1991 it became the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is the largest humanitarian network worldwide. The IFRC is made up of 191 Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, often referred to as National Societies, present in nearly every country of the world. Their roles differ country by country, but they are all united by common Fundamental Principles (humanity, impartiality, neutrality, independence, voluntary service, unity and universality). National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies are neither governmental institutions nor wholly separate non-governmental organizations (NGOs). The national societies might rather be referred as state supporters in humanitarian field. IFRC secretariat supports local Red Cross and Red Crescent action in more than 192 countries, bringing together almost 15 million volunteers.
The IFRC has established 50 cluster offices managed by 5 regional offices (Africa, Americas, Asia Pacific, Europe and MENA) and a headquarters located in Geneva. Every year over 160 million people become beneficiaries of the Federation through long-term services, development programs and disaster response.
IFRC and Armenia
The IFRC has been present in the South Caucasus region, including Armenia, since 1992, delivering large-scale humanitarian assistance. The IFRC has a regional country cluster delegation for the region, based in Tbilisi, Georgia. It supports the three Red Cross and Red Crescent National Societies in Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan. This country cluster delegation office is under the coordination of Regional office for Europe, located in Budapest.
IFRC opened its delegation in Armenia immediately after the devastating earthquake of December 1988 in order to provide assistance to the victims of disaster. More than 250 delegates from 20 countries have been worked in the Armenian delegation of IFRC. The delegation of the Federation in Armenia completed its activities in December 2014 and again reopened in 2020, in order to provide humanitarian assistance to the population affected by the war of aggression against the people of Nagorno-Karabakh unleashed by Azerbaijan in 2020, as well as to provide assistance to Armenia in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.
IFRC strategic priorities in Armenia are climate and environment, disasters and crises, migration and displacement, health and wellbeing (elderly care, communicable and non-communicable diseases, mental health and psychological support, water, sanitation and hygiene, public health).
IFRC has strong cooperation with the Armenian Red Cross Society.