Commissioner Lenarčič addressed the RCRC plenary on the issue of "Trust in Humanitarian Action". "It goes without saying that trust is fundamental to all humanitarian action. Trust between humanitarian workers and affected people in a crisis. Trust between a donor and its partners. And I do want to highlight here the trust that is the basis of our relationship with the ICRC and the Federation and the Movement as a whole. Trust between the government of an affected country and those coming in from outside to help. Trust even between armed groups or military actors in a conflict, and the humanitarian workers. And of course the humanitarian principles are the foundation for that trust. A guarantee that there are no ulterior motives in humanitarian action. That what you see is what you get," he said and pointed out that the humanitarian community needs to work much harder to gain the trust of affected populations.
In order to address the most pressing needs of the most vulnerable it needs to involve affected people from the start and empower local actors. He also highlighted the importance of respect for International Humanitarian Law (IHL). "The humanitarian principles and respect for IHL have to be at the centre of any way forward. Trust is what humanitarian action is about. Trust in the notion that there are certain standards and norms that we all subscribe to, even in the midst of conflict," he said, underlining very clearly that IHL is not negotiable: "IHL is at the heart of a rules-based international order."
In the margins of the 33rd RCRC International Conference, Commissioner Lenarčič met with Peter Maurer, President of the ICRC. He reiterated that ICRC is one of the EU's most trusted humanitarian partners and often among the few international actors present in the field in most difficult contexts. " I know that you are at the cutting edge of the movement towards greater localization of humanitarian aid. And this is a movement I want to succeed," he said.
Commissioner Lenarčič also met with the outgoing Secretary General Elhadj As Sy and President Francesco Rocca of the IFRC. He likewise stressed the importance of the growing partnership between IFRC and the EU's Directorate-General for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations.
On the previous day, Director General of DG ECHO, Ms Monique Pariat, participated as a panellist in the closing session on "Shifting Vulnerabilities":
The RCRC is organised every four years, bringing together representatives of 196 High Contracting parties to the Geneva Conventions, National Societies, the IFRC and ICRC movement as well as UN agencies, academia and INGOs.
The EU was invited to participate in the Conference as an observer. EU Ambassador Stevens delivered a joint Statement on behalf of the EU and its Member States, which focussed on strengthening IHL and the fight against impunity, sanctions and counter-terrorism measures, mental health, and the humanitarian impact of climate change: "We note that there are immense humanitarian needs, further exacerbated by increasing vulnerabilities, against a background of limited resources. It is therefore import to work jointly as the international community to address these challenges in a concerted manner."
The EU and its Member States also agreed on joint pledges on protecting humanitarian and medical personnel, promotion and dissemination of IHL, fight against impunity, the humanitarian impact of climate change and safeguarding cultural property.