International Committee of the Red Cross
 
 
International Committee of the Red Cross

Regional Delegation for the United States and Canada

  
In This Issue:
Customary International Humanitarian Law Database Now Online
Pakistan: ICRC and Pakistan Red Crescent Ramp Up Aid Effort as Floods Spread to South
Six Days in the Republic of Georgia: ICRC Washington Field Visit with U.S. Government Officials
Interview with Sophia Procofieff, Gender Equality Advisor
August 1: The Convention on Cluster Munitions Entered into Force
 
 
ICRC News from
Around the Globe
Customary International Humanitarian Law Database Now Online 
 
Customary International Humanitarian Law Study
 
The ICRC's customary international humanitarian law database is designed to be used as a legal reference in international and non-international armed conflicts, including by courts, tribunals, and international organizations. As one of the principal sources of international humanitarian law, customary law enhances the legal protection of victims of armed conflict.

As Jean-Marie Henckaerts, the ICRC's head of project for customary law, explains, "The majority of armed conflicts are non-international, and current treaty law doesn't regulate them in sufficient detail. Customary law therefore provides men, women and children caught up in such conflicts with essential protection. Respect for customary law reduces the human cost of conflict. The new database is a significant step towards ensuring that the rules of customary international humanitarian law and the practice underlying them are easily accessible."
 
To read the full interview with Mr. Henckaerts, click here.
 
To start using the database, click here.

 
Our World At War: Headed to Cambridge
DRC - Ron Haviv, Our World at War
Our World At War  has just completed its successful run in Seattle, Washington, in cooperation with the American Red Cross Serving King and Kitsap Counties. Thank you to everyone who visited the show and made this stop on the tour so worthwhile!
 
In partnership with the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative, the exhibit will open on September 9, at the Center for Government and International Studies South Concourse, located at 1730 Cambridge Street, Cambridge, MA. The exhibit will be open to the public Monday through Friday, 7:00 AM to 8:00 PM, until October 14.
 
For more information about the exhibit and related events, including the launch event on September 9, visit the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative website.
 
 
Upcoming News & Events

First Geneva Convention: Wounded and Sick in Armed Forces in the Field

Check our website for the latest news, as ICRC commemorates the upcoming dates with special features, photos, and more:
 
August 30: International Day of the Disappeared
 
September 9 - 11: Celebration of the 40th Anniversary of the International Institute of Humanitarian Law (IIHL), located in Sanremo, Italy
 
September 20 - 25: 15th Course in International Humanitarian Law (IHL) for Humanitarian Professionals and Policy Makers in Naivasha, Kenya 
 
October 31 - November 6:
Fourth Senior Workshop on International Rules governing Military Operations (SWIRMO) in Lucerne, Switzerland.
 
 
ICRC Quiz
 
What is the ICRC's motto?
 
A. Tutti Fratelli (All Are Brothers)
 
B. Inter Arma Caritas (Amidst War, Charity) 
C. Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité (Liberty, Equality, Brotherhood)
D.  Unus Pro Omnibus, Omnes Pro Uno (One For All, and All For One)
 
Stay tuned for the answer next month, or do some research on the ICRC's website!
 

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The ICRC is an impartial, neutral, and independent organization whose exclusively humanitarian mission is to protect the lives and dignity of victims of war and internal violence and to provide them with assistance. 
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News and Notes
August 2010 
 
Greetings!

World Humanitarian Day is August 19.Today, together with aid workers around the world, the ICRC Regional Delegation for the United States and Canada marks World Humanitarian Day! A new video pays tribute to the hundreds of thousands of humanitarians around the globe, who bring help to those in need every day. Take a moment to watch it and show your support for humanitarian work.
 
This World Humanitarian Day, our thoughts are especially with the millions of persons affected by the widespread flooding in Pakistan and all the aid workers active in the response. Read on to learn more about what the ICRC is doing to help.
 
We then share a short recap of a recent field visit ICRC Washington made to the Republic of Georgia with Congressional staff and a U.S. Department of State official. Next, we interview Sophia Procofieff, ICRC's gender advisor, who was recently in Washington and tells us about her important role in the organization.
 
Additional dates to take note of in August include August 1, the day the Convention on Cluster Munitions entered into force. Then, on August 12, the four Geneva Conventions of 1949 turned 61 years old. To mark the occasion, the ICRC released the online database of its customary international humanitarian law study. Visit it now and often, as it will be periodically updated with new research. And still to come, August 30 is the International Day of the Disappeared. Check our website at the end of the month to learn about ICRC's work to clarify the fate of persons missing due to armed conflict.
 
Lastly, we introduce in the sidebar a new feature to be included periodically in the newsletter: the ICRC quiz. Test your knowledge today!
 
As always, please keep sending in your questions, comments, and suggestions for the newsletter. We love hearing from our readers! 
 
Kind regards,
The ICRC Washington Delegation
 
 
Pakistan: ICRC and Pakistan Red Crescent Ramp Up Aid Effort as Floods Spread to South
Relief distribution in Nowshera, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province.
 
Torrential rains and successive waves of floodwaters are hampering relief efforts and placing lives at risk. The ICRC and the Pakistan Red Crescent Society, already bringing aid to more than 250,000 people, are determined to meet the needs of several hundred thousand more.

"The outlook is bleak: more rain is expected by the end of the week," said Pascal Cuttat, the ICRC's head of delegation in Pakistan. "Floodwaters are receding in the north of the country but they are reaching the south, where even more people live."

"We are working closely with the Pakistan Red Crescent Society to bring aid to those most in need. Despite providing more than 150,000 people with one-month food rations and 100,000 people with other items, our joint relief effort is not yet keeping pace with the rising number of people needing help," said Mr. Cuttat. "We are doing everything we can to expand our operation to quickly meet the needs of several hundred thousand more people, especially in terms of food."
 
 
 
Six Days in the Republic of Georgia: ICRC Washington Field Visit with U.S. Government Officials
 
The ICRC's Molly Gray leads a group of Congressional staff and a representative from the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Population Refugees and Migration to the Republic of Georgia.During the week of July 3, the ICRC organized a field visit for U.S. Government officials to the Republic of Georgia. Six senior Congressional staff covering foreign policy, defense, or appropriations issues for Members of the U.S. Congress, as well as a representative from the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration participated. The field experience gave them a first-hand look at how the ICRC works with internally displaced persons (IDPs) and other populations negatively affected by past conflicts. 
 
The group visited collective centers and IDP settlements and had discussions with some of the thousands of IDPs in the country; 220,000 people remain displaced by the conflict in the 1990s and 30,000 displaced by the August 2008 conflict between Georgia and Russia.
 
The group also traveled to villages along the Administrative Boundary Line between the breakaway regions and Georgia proper where they met with beneficiaries of ICRC micro-economic initiatives. Then, in Tbilisi, the trip participants visited ICRC-supported health projects including the Georgian Foundation for Prosthetic Orthopedic Rehabilitation, where the needs of war wounded are being met, and the Ksani Prison, where the ICRC has recently handed over a tuberculosis treatment and prevention program
 
Congressional staff visit a collective center near Zugdidi where IDPs from the conflict in the 1990s have been living for over a decade.
 
The ICRC has been present in Georgia since 1992. In a recent interview, Ms. Ariane Tombet, ICRC's Head of Delegation in Tbilisi, described some of the ways the ICRC has adapted to meet the needs of the affected population, now two years on from the August 2008 conflict. Click to read more
 
 
Interview with Sophia Procofieff, Gender Equality Advisor 
 
Sophia Procofieff, ICRC Gender Equality Advisor Sophia Procofieff has worked for the ICRC since 1997 and has held the position of Gender Equality Advisor since 2008. She recently took the time to answer a few of our questions during a visit to Washington, DC: 
 
The position of Gender Equality Advisor is a specialized one at ICRC headquarters. Tell us how it came into existence.
 
In 1988, a member of the ICRC Assembly wrote the first report on the situation of women in the ICRC. Then, it was not until 2001, that the Gender Equality Advisor position was created. At this time, it was just a part-time position. In 2005, it became what we call an "80% position," but now that I occupy the post, I plan to make it a full-time one in the near future. 
 
In your role, what areas and themes do you concentrate on the most? 
 
In 2006, the ICRC senior executive team adopted a policy on gender equality, which set forth the need for a yearly assessment, and since then the gender equality advisor has conducted it. And today, we see that there is a persistent difference between the field and headquarters with respect to having women in senior management positions. This is where we need to analyze further the constraints of working where we work. Then we can take appropriate measures to increase the number of women in senior management positions in the field. Another theme that I work on is the issue of locally recruited staff. The 2009 assessment was the first for which human resources could provide me with data on locally hired staff due to the collection of data being centralized. Now we know just how many locally recruited women work for the ICRC and at what level. This will also enhance our understanding of field conditions and constraints.
 
What are the broad goals of the ICRC with respect to gender parity?
 
Well, first, let's answer the question, why do we want gender parity? It is because we are convinced that having gender-balanced teams helps the ICRC deliver better services to populations negatively affected by conflict. It gives the ICRC better access to beneficiaries and better understanding of the environment. At a senior management level, gender-balanced teams help the ICRC have a more creative and innovative management approach.
 
Now with respect to our goals, this is outlined in the gender equality policy. By the end of 2011, the ICRC aims to have at least 30% of positions held by each sex, at all management levels, and at least 40% by the end of 2016.
 
Why do we need these objectives? The data collected will help us to rebalance when there is an over or under-representation at one level or another. For example, there was a recent opening in one human resources division. The job solicitation indicated that all qualifications being equal, preference would be given to a male candidate. This was because this division is currently 95% female. The head of the division believed that a more balanced team would ultimately better serve the ICRC.
 
 
August 1: The Convention on Cluster Munitions Entered into Force
 
The Convention on Cluster MunitionsCluster munitions have unique characteristics that make them a grave danger to civilian men, women, and children. At the time they are used during conflict, cluster munitions can disperse explosive submunitions (also called bomblets) over very wide areas, potentially causing very high civilian casualties when they are used in populated areas. In addition, large numbers of submunitions fail to explode as intended, leaving a long-term legacy of explosive contamination. Many thousands of civilian men, women and children have been tragically killed and injured by coming into contact with unexploded submunitions.
 
Singer Prosthetic and Orthopaedic Centre in Saida, Lebanon. A young boy maimed by cluster sub-munitions. On May 30, 2008, 107 States adopted the Convention on Cluster Munitions at a Diplomatic Conference held in Dublin, Ireland. The ICRC warmly welcomed the adoption of this historic treaty, which prohibits the use, production, stockpiling, and transfer of cluster munitions. Then, on February 16, 2010, Burkina Faso became the 30th State to ratify for the Convention. That date triggered the countdown to the Convention's entry into force: August 1, 2010. The Convention is now binding for those States that have already ratified it, and will become binding for other States as and when they ratify it.

To learn more about this Convention and to read its full text, please visit our website.