Annual ICRC meeting with Swiss-chaired Donor Support Group

Press release, 23.06.2016

Federal Councillor Didier Burkhalter took part today in the annual meeting between the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and its principal donors. The ICRC Donor Support Group is currently chaired by Switzerland. Both ICRC President Peter Maurer and ICRC Director-General Yves Daccord are attending the two-day meeting in Bern from 23 to 24 June. The focus of the meeting is on strengthening partnerships with the private sector in humanitarian crises. This meeting marks the end of Switzerland's chairmanship of the ICRC Donor Support Group.

Business and foundation representatives took part in the annual meeting between the ICRC and its major donors based on a joint initiative between Switzerland and the ICRC. A special session reserved for them during the first day was dedicated to the subject of partnership between humanitarian organisations and the private sector.

In his speech Mr Burkhalter talked about the benefits of such a partnership when there are so many complex humanitarian crises that lack adequate public funding in order to respond to them. He underlined the importance of creating synergies and linking the expertise of the private sector with humanitarian actors.     

Mr Maurer talked about the ICRC's experiences in this regard, pointing out that such partnerships were indispensable in order to help the 120 million people in need of humanitarian assistance today. He went on to state that there were one and a half billion people living in fragile contexts who should not be forgotten. Mr Maurer also indicated that the academic world too had its part to play in such partnerships and that technology, new financing models and innovation could also be used to save lives.  

Federal Council Delegate for Humanitarian Aid, Ambassador Manuel Bessler, encouraged the donor countries to seek out greater collaboration with the private sector.

Swiss chairmanship draws to a close

Today's annual meeting in Bern marks the end of Switzerland's chairmanship of the ICRC Donor Support Group. The group is made up of the ICRC's top 19 donors. Switzerland's chairmanship of the group has been based on a victim-oriented approach to humanitarian aid.

Switzerland organised two forums with representatives from the ICRC and its donor countries to discuss this issue in depth. The first took place in October 2015 in Geneva and was concerned with the coordinated response of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement to humanitarian needs in large-scale crises. The second forum took place in February 2016 and dealt with the protection of civilians in armed conflicts.

Representatives of the donor countries subsequently paid visits to Afghanistan (February 2016) and the Central African Republic (March 2016). The goal was to measure the outcome of the discussions held at the forums against the reality on the ground in these two countries where humanitarian needs remain high. These visits to armed conflict zones allowed the members of the Donor Support Group to get an in-depth insight into the ICRC's activities in the field.

The most important humanitarian partner

The ICRC is Switzerland's most important humanitarian partner. Switzerland contributed CHF 140 million to the ICRC this year, making it the organisation's fourth largest donor. Switzerland and the ICRC also collaborate on other projects aimed at strengthening compliance with international humanitarian law and improving humanitarian access.

Mr Burkhalter and Mr Maurer also held bilateral talks on the margins of the annual meeting in order to discuss the main challenges facing the ICRC and to review the different components of the partnership between Switzerland and the ICRC.

Further information:

International Committee of the Red Cross

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