Guest post by Sarah Cotton, Public Affairs and Communications Co-ordinator, ICRC UK
I am currently on the train on the way back from a great trip with the Youth Advisory Panel to Edinburgh. For those of you who don’t know, the Youth Advisory Panel comprise 150 enthusiastic young British Red Cross volunteers who seek to make the British Red Cross better by ensuring their own views and perspectives are heard and appreciated by others within the organisation.
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has been lucky enough this year to extend its strategic partnership with the British Red Cross to encompass this impressive group of 15-25 year olds through Louise Halpin – ICRC Red11 Project Volunteer 2011. While the rest of us have been toiling away at our day-to-day jobs and tasks, Louise has been busy organising a fantastic event for her peers in bonny Scotland. The aim has been to better inform the British Red Cross Youth Advisory Panel about the work of the ICRC and whisk them away for a night to consider the future of humanitarianism via an ICRC organised TED event.
The adventure started yesterday afternoon, when 15 young advisors (plus me) met in the Beehive Inn in Edinburgh to watch TEDxRC2: Multiplying the Power of Humanity (www.tedxrc2.com). This TED event brought together 8 inspirational speakers in Geneva as a side event to the 31st International Conference of the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement, which takes place this week with all National Societies, the ICRC, IFRC and all state signatories to the Geneva Conventions. The event featured the founder of the Somali Red Crescent and Somali mid-wife: Edna Adan Ismail, Norwegian Foreign Minister: Jonas Gahr Store and Political Cartoonist Patrick Chappatte – to name just three.
Notwithstanding a couple of technical glitches, the group were suitably inspired by this fascinating show, which was watched via live web-link to the event in Geneva, to indulge in some post-TED analysis. In groups we discussed each talk in order to draw examples and lessons which could be learned by the British Red Cross to develop humanitarian inspiration for the future. For more about these ideas… watch this space!
This morning there was no rest for the good humanitarian, as the group assembled ready to tramp up the hill to Edinburgh Castle. Once there we were free to appreciate the heritage of a magnificent Scottish landmark, before heading to the ICRC Humanity in War photographic exhibition, stationed in the National War Museum deep within the Castle grounds. The Humanity in War exhibition is a collection of photographs from the ICRC’s archive that shows moments of humanity in that most-inhumane environment – war. The exhibition has been available to view at Edinburgh Castle since this February and will remain there for just another few months before it moves on to Northern Ireland and Canada in 2012. The British Red Cross were instrumental and inspirational in bringing the exhibition to Scotland and we are very grateful to them for making it happen.
One final highlight of our jaunt to Scotland then followed as the group assembled in a very posh conference hall in the Castle to link up with ICRC UK Head of Mission: Geoff Loane, via skype. Geoff gave the group an overview of the role of the ICRC across the world and then answered some pretty tough questions! These covered what the current ICRC response to the situation in Somalia consists of, how the ICRC and International Federation of the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement work together with National Societies in the field, and whether a principle of independence sometimes obscures a principle of humanity.
Having grilled Geoff about the ICRC’s role and now being fully fledged ICRC supporters inside the belly of the BRC, the YAP were left free to wander round Edinburgh and contemplate a truly fantastic 24 hours.
Thank you once more to Louise Halpin for all your help arranging this event and if any one of you would like any more information about the ICRC, please don’t hesitate to get in touch! firstname.lastname@example.org