The International Federation 's collective mission 'to improve the lives of vulnerable people by mobilising the power of humanity ' is an ambitious goal, but one rarely more needed than now. The tragic events over the latter months of 2001 have shown how much the world requires a global, neutral, unified and able humanitarian organisation such as the Red Cross and Red Crescent. Fear and uncertainty grip our world, as they have not done for many decades. Labels of nationality, ethnicity and religion appear to be becoming more important in the minds of many. In this environment, Red Cross Red Crescent principles proclaim a different message: Humanity, Impartiality, Neutrality, Independence, Voluntary Service, Unity and Universality.
Transforming these principles into action is the task of this Appeal 2002-2003. Over the next two years, the International Federation will continue to work intensively with its National Societies around the world to assist millions of vulnerable people. Programmes will continue to be focused in four 'core areas ' defined by the Federation in its key plan for the coming decade, Strategy 2010, in which the organisation believes it can best utilise its collective strengths. These 'core areas ' are the promotion of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement 's Fundamental Principles and humanitarian values; disaster preparedness; disaster response; and health and care in the community.
Disaster response and health and care programmes are traditional areas of strength for the International Federation. But the organisation has increasingly come to recognise that to maintain and increase this excellence, greater attention needs to be invested in disaster preparedness and prevention measures as well as a greater integration between preparedness and response. Fundamentally, more effort is also needed to build the capacity of every National Society. Stronger National Societies will ensure that their programmes have a greater impact on vulnerable people. As such, the International Federation 's Appeal 2002-2003 contains programmes, which build a solid foundation of organisational development and enhanced preparedness capacity as well as those more targeted to assist beneficiaries in disaster response and health and community care.
The Federation is once again launching this appeal on 5 December - International Volunteers Day - because as the world 's largest volunteer network our principal comparative advantage is always being on the ground working alongside and understanding the needs of vulnerable communities. Volunteers are the lifeblood of the Red Cross Red Crescent but they are a precious resource, which the Movement has sometimes failed to manage and nurture, as it should. Vibrant and effective National Societies depend on capable managers and a network of motivated, competent volunteers able to deliver assistance to those in need. A strengthened feature of the Federation 's future capacity building efforts, therefore, will be attempts to support National Societies in providing better volunteer recruitment and management.
The recognition that better, more effective programmes benefiting vulnerable people will grow out of greater understanding of the unique situation of each country and each Red Cross Red Crescent National Society has led the Federation to develop other initiatives, too. Cooperation Agreement Strategies (CAS) - renamed from Country Assistance Strategies because National Societies rightly felt that the previous title did not represent the full collaborative relationships between Red Cross Red Crescent partners - are being produced by the individual National Society and the Federation for more than 30 countries featured in this appeal. CAS aim to build the commitment of the entire Red Cross Red Crescent Movement to a shared strategy for that country by:
- identifying the key humanitarian priorities in the country in the coming 3-5 years;
- analysing the current programmes and capacity of the National Society in the country concerned;
- ensuring linkages between Strategy 2010, key Movement policies and the work of the National Society;
- coordinating the actions of existing and potential Red Cross Red Crescent partners; and
- encouraging prioritised resource commitments.
Providing effective coordination - and thereby ensuring the full utilisation of other partners ' capacities to support each National Society - is an increasingly important role of the Federation Secretariat. This approach is most developed in disaster response. The Secretariat is concentrating on providing rapid and effective coordination, information and management support to the host National Society and to those partners - both inside and outside the Movement - able to assist in crisis response in an inclusive, flexible but powerful way. The successful relief operations in El Salvador, India, Peru and Mozambique, among many others in the past 12 months, have validated this approach, which therefore forms the essential strategy on which the disaster response components of this Appeal are based. This approach is clearly demonstrated in the Fedration 's current support of the Afghan Red Crescent Society, a domestic humanitarian organisation operating on the ground that is uniquely placed to assist vulnerable people during the ongoing crisis. Slow onset disasters, such as the current drought in Central Asia, also remain a priority and the Federation is striving to engage more effectively, provide greater visibility and seek appropriate funding for such crises.
Yet the greatest single disaster threatening the world 's population at the beginning of the 21st century is one that has been with us for more than two decades. That is why the International Federation has placed the fight against the HIV/AIDS pandemic as the single largest programme priority. Federation support to National Societies is multi-faceted: aiming to assist them in educating young and old alike about the disease; to prevent its spread; and to care for those living with HIV/AIDS. At its November 2001 General Assembly, the Federation also launched a campaign to fight discrimination against those living with HIV/AIDS, recognising that programme initiatives alone are insufficient to overcome the obstacles and prejudice they face. As part of its fight against this and other health threats, the Federation has also vigorously expanded its network of partnerships with other key organisations, recognising that the collective voice of the Red Cross Red Crescent must be utilised more often and effectively in favour of vulnerable people. This is why advocacy initiatives at country and regional level, to complement the international campaigns led by the Federation Secretariat in Geneva and New York, have been defined in this annual appeal to a greater extent than before.
The Federation has also recognised that its obligation to promote humanitarian values is even more pressing in the light of the attacks on New York and Washington DC in September 2001 and the ensuing humanitarian crisis. Intolerance and prejudice are global phenomena and, together with the Director General of the ICRC, I have urged all National Societies to commit themselves to fighting discrimination and prejudice in their own countries, creating what we hope is a collective campaign of universal value and significance.
The themes and programmes contained in this Appeal are multi-faceted. But the combination of sectoral strategies in the four 'core areas ' with the regional strategies reflect the what, how and where of the International Federation 's activities in the next two years. Through your support for this Appeal 2002- 2003, the Federation and its National Societies will move closer to achieving their humanitarian mission by assisting millions of vulnerable people worldwide through the power of humanity.
Didier J Cherpitel
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