FOR A STRONGER FEDERATION THROUGH
THE EXCELLENCE OF ITS NATIONAL SOCIETIES
WORKING PLAN FOR THE 2013 -2017 PERIOD
DR. MARIO VILLARROEL LANDER
In today’s world, there is an ever-growing number of people in need for assistance and protection. Millions of families are loosing their homes and their loved ones in the aftermath of natural disasters, such as earthquakes and tsunamis. There are those who are forced to flee wars, there are others who are displaced due to floods. People and livestock alike die from hunger and thirst due to long lasting droughts. There are those who suffer from Aids, Malaria and Tuberculosis, among other diseases, and they are deprived of the most basic social or medical care mechanisms. There are people who cannot gather the minimal conditions for human survival, such as drinking water and essential medical assistance. Women, children, the elderly and disabled populations are always the most affected ones.
In such a scenario, we could ask ourselves if we are accomplishing our Federation’s vision for the planet, which is laid on article Nº 4 of the statutory texts, and on the 2020 strategy:
“The general object of the International Federation is to inspire, encourage, facilitate and promote at all times all forms of humanitarian activities by National Societies, with a view to preventing and alleviating human suffering, and thereby contributing to the maintenance and promotion of human dignity and peace in the world”.
To achieve this vision, we must ensure that communities in need will have access to assistance and protection, both in times of peace as well as in times of war, disaster and crisis. Hence, National Societies need to be strong, independent and self-sufficient all around the world. These are National Societies that need to be supported by a large volunteer base and that have access to the most vulnerable; National Societies that enjoy from influential contacts with their governments. We require more efforts to maintained a permanent humanitarian diplomacy role.
To meet this mission, we must strengthen our building capacities and offer humanitarian aid at a high level of excellence. We need to be prepared to give timely responses in an ever-changing environment. We must secure water and hygiene, provide health, thus improving livelihood and reducing poverty.
To carry out this mission, it is paramount that we raise all necessary funds, internationally and nationally, from both the public and the private sectors. We must ask ourselves if each one of us, both individually and collectively as a Movement, is trustworthy in the eyes of donors. Are we acting in an effective and efficient way so that potential donors will provide these funds because we are the most reliable organization?
In the eyes of the world, the International Movement of the Red Cross and the Red Crescent is a unity. Thus, they expect from us to run a worldwide organization capable of managing humanitarian assistance, ranging from small scale community-based assistance up to large scale disaster relief, using entrusted resources as efficiently as possible, in all transparency. They view us as experts in providing the proper response in the face of natural disasters and crises and as sparring partners to both national governments and UN institutions.
To achieve the strengthening of National Societies through the beneficiaries’ needs based approach, complexities in operations must be reduced and the ability of coordination must be consolidated, in order to avoid unnecessary management costs. That means that all components need to focus on their specific abilities and the Secretariat must facilitate such coordination.
We need a Secretariat highly useful to National Societies. We all know international cooperation brings about excellent results when it comes to sharing responsibilities, because we are given the opportunity to divide the work ahead of us to achieve a common goal. Likewise, the Secretariat must take on the responsibility of coordinating disaster response in case of calamitous events. It needs to generate the necessary trust, as a reliable intermediate, coordinator and facilitator at the service of National Societies to raise funds steaming from to big multilateral organizations, so that programmes will be handed out to the most successful members in the field.
I am convinced that if we, National Societies and the Secretariat, work closely with the ICRC, we will achieve the objectives of our mandate, as a Movement. We already posses a vast number of documents in terms of institutional policies, now we must strengthen humanitarian standards that will allow us to assist people most in need.
Bringing this vision to reality will be my main objective for the upcoming four years.
As we all know, solutions are not easy to find, and most problems are not immediately solved. However, I am convinced that we can face the future humanitarian challenges, effectively and with a sense of leadership, if we work together. We have all the necessary elements at our disposal: we have the know-how, the experience and the indispensable human resources to do it.
The work plan I am proposing is dynamic and ambitious; pragmatic and realistic, and it is focused on strengthening the skills and capabilities of National Societies, as well as in clarifying the strategic function the Secretariat must have.
Goal Nº 1
Promoting strong and influential National Societies that keep on developing their strengths, become financially self-sufficient, reinforce their principles of transparency, integrity, and assist each other. With an ever-growing base of young, innovative, change-leading volunteers that support the changing process of the organization.
All National Societies must ensure they remain in permanent contact with the most vulnerable population and that they have access to each one of their governments, by playing the auxiliary role to public authorities they are entrusted with. It is precisely through the communities’ strong support that we will gain trust from all sectors, in terms of impartiality, neutrality and independence. In order to achieve this goal, all National Societies must count on a large base of volunteers representing all parts of the population. Another way to obtain trust is by enhancing integrity and transparency standards– both in leadership and in the humanitarian action.
National Societies that are constantly thriving to develop their capacities must deploy efforts to reduce their dependency from short term projects carried out with the support of other sister societies and other partners. They need to find their own path to development and progress at their own pace, improving step by step, and maintaining the knowledge the have gained, in order to gradually go beyond cooperation offered in projects to enlarged development programmes. This way it would possible to prevent the efforts from ceasing once a project comes to an end.
Building new capacities or the strengthening of the existing ones is one of the foremost duties we shall accomplish. For the time being, National Societies need to obtain inflowing resources to keep sustainable management capacity and these resources come, in the best-case scenario, from outside the country or through the means of international cooperation. In order to come up with a solution to tackle this issue, we need to adopt new approaches on organizational development and to resort to more experienced consultancy at a higher level.
As President, and with the support of the Vice Presidents:
I will exert leadership to direct a Governing Board that will prioritize actions favoring National Societies’ self-sustainability as well as mechanisms facilitating accountability and integrity, since these elements are key factors to what we are and to the way act.
I will establish a more effective dialogue with the statutory committees, so that recommendations made to the Governing Board always take into account initiatives that are in keeping with the principle of sustainability, both in terms of implementing such recommendations and in terms of analysis to assess policy accountability.
I will ensure that the Secretariat will count on specific progress indicators about sustainability support and initiatives favoring the creation of profitable, relevant and sustainable services. By doing so, we will foster the exchange of ideas, the peer-to-peer support and a greater commitment to our institutional values.
I will show interest in the way in which each National Society is given support and consultancy at the highest levels to meet their challenges and solve their problems. When asked, I will always provide support acting as an intermediary vis-à-vis their respective Governments.
I will make sure that my actions are tangible and decisive to favor the humanitarian aid and that we have at our disposal the necessary space and access to act in keeping with our Humanitarian Principles. I will therefore support effective humanitarian diplomatic initiatives, in due coordination with the Secretariat of the Federation, to respond to medium and large-scale disasters. Likewise, we will make sure that volunteers fully play their role thus setting a good example as to why we are the largest humanitarian network worldwide.
Goal Nº 2
A Federation that, along with the Secretariat, has the potential to become an exemplary organization in the way it responds to disasters and crises, attaining greater resilience in normal and post-disaster times.
We aim at becoming the leading, dynamic and effective organization in crisis and disaster preparedness with a view of setting an example for all humanitarian, governmental and corporate sectors. It must count on the full support of volunteers and the commitment of all parties involved. It is only through an excellent coordination that we will reach this objective. Thus, it is necessary to revisit the way in which all the Movement components are working together in order to achieve significant progress in that sense.
National Societies are willing to contribute to development and humanitarian aid programmes all over the world, a fact that is, in itself, quite positive. There are different approaches of all sorts: multilateral, many bilateral and even unilateral approaches.
Nonetheless, there is also a negative side to this fact: there is a risk of having too many approaches, and if they are not properly coordinated they will overwhelm Recipient National Societies (RNS). In fact, the duplication of efforts in many countries leads to high fix costs to many PNS, because a significant amount of these resources are considered as indirect costs. The challenge is to design and coordinate a system which distributes projects and programs based on the Recipient National Societies’ needs, taking full advantage of the expertise and resources of the PNS, thereby reducing their indirect costs, while facilitating the coordination between Federation Secretariat and the RNS.
However, it is clear that some Participating National Societies (PNS) need a greater visibility in their own countries in terms of the kind of support they provide, which in turn will allow them to increase fund raising capacities. It is also true that there are National Societies that are not exposed to natural disasters; however, they should pursue their field training programmes for volunteers and specialists to be able to give assistance when needed. This will also allow them to maintain their position as disaster experts in their countries.
Fundraising all around the world comes from several sources, ranging from supranational funds, national governments, private sector or individual donors. To guarantee the necessary resources for populations most in need and foster capacity building, it is of utmost importance that every National Society raises funds based on high quality information regarding national and global actions of our Federation. However, it is important to avoid competition among National Societies and with the Federation Secretariat, when dealing with contributions made by the world’s most important donors, such as the European Union. Conversely, we need to develop the capacity of attracting significant budgets, not only for specific projects but also for medium and long-term programs.
We need to design, under the agreement of National Societies, an easy-to-use reporting system applicable to all RCRC-Projects to improve accountability, to reach more and better positioning, and to help each other to be more efficient. Implementation of such a system could be done through internal consultations with National Societies to jointly decide which modalities will better fit the newly created mechanism.
The Federation Secretariat must remain at all times at the service of National Societies and work in effective coordination with the ICRC. The challenge will be to build up a new model of human resources development that will enable the Secretariat to achieve knowledge and financial sustainability. It must also be able to keep and enlarge this know-how, to seek for excellence in relationships with all parties involved and to yield results that will have the desired impact.
As President, and with the support of the Vice Presidents:
I will elaborate, together with all stakeholders while promoting inclusion, a new and efficient model of collaboration among components of the movement, with the purpose of targeting the goals described above. I will also make a call upon the ICRC to participate in this vision of joint cooperation; I am fully convinced that there are magnificent opportunities to join forces and to contribute to the development of National Societies in times of crisis, civil unrest, natural disasters and development issues
I will facilitate the dialogue within the Governing Board in order to make sure that policies, systems and procedures of our Federation are in phase with the context we live in, that they are nimble and favor transparency and accountability without risking the effectiveness that allows us to save lives and improve the peoples’ living conditions.
I will work relentlessly and every single day on the defense of the universal principles of our Federation, using our capacities from the local up to the global level; thus, we will assure a disciplined response to disasters and I will personally see that the Secretariat will ensure monitoring and evaluation processes to assess the way in which the Federation respects cultural, religious and gender differences, while supporting peer-to-peer cooperation. The Governing Board will be vigilant that humanitarian help is provided impartially and in furtherance of all the norms of our Federation
I will reinforce the meaningful role played by the statutory committees, so that their recommendations, deliberations and proposals always guide the Governing Board, thus contributing to a Federation that will become a leading, dynamic, efficient and responsible organization in the field of disaster preparedness and response, and in the setting up of medium and long-term programmes. All this is to be done by ensuring that all voices of both volunteers and the youth are heard at all times, since they are the very essence of our Movement.
I will make sure that our Secretariat will always count on dynamic, modern and state-of-the-art tools, thereby strengthening its capacity to coordinate international-response operations and to reach a greater leadership.
I will endeavor to position the Federation so it can work closely to the international banking system, the United Nations, corporate sector networks and private sector leaders, in order to completely favor the Federation in these matters.
I will promote the inclusion at the Governing Board level of profitable and sustainable service generation models in the Federation’s network, as part of its cooperation policies and models, as well as components that strengthen the systems, the processes and procedures of all National Societies.
I will actively work with the Secretary General to make the Federation an exemplary and effective organization to the National Societies. An open dialogue will be maintained to identify common challenges and opportunities allowing us to act coherently within the Movement, thus increasing synergies and building harmonious behaviors.
I will promote an on-going dialogue with the Governing Board so that it can play a more effective, inspiring and visionary role, while guarantying accountability as a representative of the International Federation. Its role must not focus on specific individual interests; it must act as a vigilant body to assess the Secretariat activities enabling it to be more efficient. Galvanizing both the role of the Secretariat and that of the Federation will result in a better functioning.
My commitment will focus on the strengthening of the relationship that the Governing Board and the Federation must entertain with the ICRC, under the premises of equality, harmony and mutual respect of each other’s activities, thereby casting an ever stronger Movement.
I will make it a priority that the Secretariat develops tools and mechanisms favoring efficient and technically cost-effective communication, so to strengthen its mandate as coordinator of the Movement’s membership.
I will promote a lively, dynamic, modern Secretariat, close to National Societies, effectively assisting them in their developing processes to become efficient, inclusive and highly competitive institutions.
The Federation has the potential of becoming an inspiring organization, promoting values that address the needs of the most vulnerable, accepted and recognized by Governments, the United Nations, and by scholar, scientist and financial sectors worldwide, and is recognized for its humanitarian diplomacy actions.
We must strengthen even more our Federation, to make it significantly more recognized and admired for its humanitarian work, for the quality of its endeavors, its institutional values and the humanitarian principles it inspires. It must be recognized at all levels: locally, nationally and globally; it must stands out for the visible actions of the Red Cross and the Red Crescent volunteers and for its capacity of being a lively and innovative organization where youngsters can have the necessary space to become better leaders.
As President, and with the support of the Vice Presidents:
I will commit myself to make our Federation, its volunteers and officials more visible worldwide, to the United Nations System, in the corporate, scholar, financial arenas. We will accomplish all the above by showcasing the global and local impact we will produce on the most vulnerable population and we will do it while inspiring the world with the satisfaction of a well done job.
I will insist on keeping an on-going, deep dialogue, so that the Governing Board is more focused on the quality and application of the existing policies and procedures, in the light of present and future humanitarian challenges. This is how we will ensure that our actions are an example for all.
I will promote the kind of dialogue that will lead us to be a Federation focused on rising at all times the quality standards based on actual scenarios inspired by the best learning practices that allow the constant improvement of what the Federation IS and of what it SHOULD BE.
I will work tirelessly so that the Federation achieves better communication and public information capabilities to better position our humanitarian work. In today’s world we must able to make visible the work carried out by National Societies and their volunteers at all times, in the most professional and strategic way possible, and with support from all of us. This will allow us to face the humanitarian aid challenges and permanently alleviate suffering of those who live in vulnerable conditions.
I am a man of my word, and I am convinced of the contribution that our International Federation makes to mankind through our volunteers and professionals all over the world, who play their role with a high sense of ethics and service to others, for the fulfillment of the humanitarian mandate we face.
My commitment to all volunteers of the Red Cross and the Red Crescent, to the 187 National Societies’ officials and to the Federation Secretariat has been proved for over 40 years of humanitarian career. This commitment will always be present in my actions through my truthful and strict compliance with the Fundamental Principles of our Movement, through the knowledge and experience acquired after so many years at the service of an Institution that I love and respect.