Multiple bilateralism - The work of ICRC New York

Did you know there are two ICRC delegations in the US? We in Washington interact with the US and Canadian governments, North American civil society and inter-American bodies; our colleagues in New York City focus on the United Nations.

The UN is not an obvious fit for an independent, apolitical organization that favours bilateral dialogue but in 1990, the ICRC became Permanent Observer at the United Nations.

It all comes down to the special place we occupy in the diverse community of humanitarian organizations. The specific status of the ICRC stems from several factors. First of all, the organization has been entrusted with a mandate by the States party to the Geneva Conventions of 1949 - in other words, every country in the world, and every UN Member State. Those States recognized the ICRC's humanitarian character and its impartiality when they adhered to the Conventions. Second, the same States, in approving the adoption of the Statutes of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, pledged to respect at all times the ICRC's obligation to act in accordance with the Fundamental Principles of the Movement. The ICRC's special status was further recognized by the international community when, on 16 October 1990, the UN General Assembly granted the institution a seat as Permanent Observer at the United Nations.

Read recent statements to to the UN by our delegation in New York on peacekeeping operations, weapons, the promotion and protection of the rights of children, the advancement of women and the scope and application of the principle of universal jurisdiction

Walter Fuellemann is our head of delegation in New York and ICRC Permanent Representative at the UN. He explains the role of that unique delegation and what he means by multiple bilateralism.