The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) has made a number of strong commitments towards non-discrimination and respect for diversity.
The base for the commitments, as governments know, is the Fundamental Principles of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, and the action is undertaken worldwide, at global and local levels.
A good example of the strength of the IFRC position commitment to action was given in December 2003 at the 28th International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent, where all components of the RC/RC Movement and governments met together and adopted an Agenda for Humanitarian Action.
At that occasion the IFRC pledged to implement activities at community level to contribute to the reduction of all forms of discrimination and violence in the communities. The Pledge was delivered on behalf of all National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, which with their local networks are well-placed to form the necessary national partnerships and carry out the activities everywhere in the world.
Each region and country has its own immediate priorities. The priorities are set by the National Societies themselves, and in the Europe region (which for us encompasses 52 Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies) the emphasis has been on the emergence of racism and discrimination faced by refugees, asylum seekers and migrants, irrespective of their legal status.
At the VIth European Regional Conference of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies held in Berlin in 2002 European National Societies formulated an Action Plan on Migration, and they are currently implementing a wide-range of activities in their respective countries to address the needs of migrants.
In this respect, we would like to call upon Participating States at this conference to recognize the rights of refugees, asylum seekers and migrants, to provide access to social services to all migrants, regardless of their legal status and to implement concrete measures to combat violence - in all its forms - experienced by refugees, asylum seekers and documented and undocumented migrants.
This concern led European National Societies to commit to promote the ratification of the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families. In line with that commitment, we would hope that Participating States which have yet to do so will consider ratifying and implementing the Convention.
The IFRC, as a network organisation built by Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, also realises that combating racism, discrimination and xenophobia has to have several starting points, including within the organisation itself.
We are committed to be an inclusive organisation and we hope that Participating States, as well as other international organisations and non-governmental organisations will share this view and undertake their own serious efforts to combat institutional and organisational discrimination and to truly reflect the diversity of their communities and constituencies.
Against this background, the IFRC very much appreciates the opportunity to support your deliberations and future work on this important subject. We look forward to doing do so internationally as an organisation, and at country levels with the support of our National Society members.