Is the ICRC ‘complicit’ because it doesn’t publicly condemn the warring parties?
Not at all. The ICRC, as part of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, is a neutral humanitarian organization. We do not engage in politics. Our concern is purely humanitarian – we seek to save lives and to reduce or prevent the suffering of people caught up in conflict.
In order to operate in conflict zones, the ICRC establishes trust through its confidential dialogue with all parties to the conflict with the objective of alleviating the suffering of those affected by it.
This allows us to conduct a vital part of our work: to remind the warring parties of their obligations under international humanitarian law – something that we also do publicly – and to raise, directly and candidly, our concerns about the conduct of hostilities. The content of those confidential conversations is something we do not discuss publicly.
By publicly calling out one warring side or another, or disclosing the content of our confidential conversations, we would risk losing the trust of the sides and the direct access and vital space to speak with all parties to the conflict about the need to protect civilians during hostilities. It might also jeopardize our ability to bring life-saving assistance to people in need.
To some it may seem as if we are not outspoken enough. But based on decades of experience, we believe that advocating discreetly and constantly with those we are trying to influence is the most effective approach.
We are fully aware that our neutrality and principles are not always well understood, especially in situations where there are strong emotions involved. However, our neutrality and impartiality are critical to our ability to operate in any context. We continue our efforts to inform people, including parties to the conflict, about what the ICRC can and cannot do based on our mandate and principles.
For more information on why “we are silent”, watch this short video.
Source : Icrc