Reach out to the Red Cross/Crescent!

December 5, 2013

In November 2013 the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement adopted a four-year action plan towards the prohibition and elimination of nuclear weapons at their Council of Delegates meeting in Sydney, Australia. The action plan follows up on a historic resolution adopted by the Movement in 2011, in which it appealed “to all states […] to pursue in good faith and conclude with urgency and determination negotiations to prohibit the use of and completely eliminate nuclear weapons through a legally binding international agreement, based on existing commitments and international obligations”.

On 8-9 December 2014, Austria will host the third international conference on the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons in Vienna. As pointed out in this aide mémoire recently sent out by the Austrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs to all UN mission in New York and Geneva, the Vienna Conference is framed as a continuation of the discussion on the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons, started in Oslo and continued in Nayarit. This approach has now doubt been successful in changing the conversation about nuclear weapons and opened space for greater engagement from states, international organisations, and civil society. Following the example of the two previous conferences on the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons, the Vienna Conference will be open to all interested parties, including the International Movement of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

Time and again, the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement has proved to be an extremely powerful force in humanitarian advocacy. The fact that they are now putting their full weight behind the call for a nuclear ban is a big step forward for anyone working for a ban on nuclear weapons, and a great opportunity for ICAN to catalyse our governments into action.

+ Key points from the 2013 action plan

  • All Red Cross and Red Crescent national societies should engage with governments to encourage their active participation in current fora addressing the threat of nuclear weapons
  • All Red Cross and Red Crescent national societies should convey the Movement’s concerns and position on nuclear weapons
  • All Red Cross and Red Crescent national societies should urge their governments to take concrete steps leading to the negotiation of a legally binding international agreement to prohibit the use of and completely eliminate nuclear weapons – based on existing commitments and international obligations – and to conclude such negotiations with urgency and determination

This provides ICAN campaigners with a unique outreach opportunity. In many countries, national Red Cross and Red Crescent societies have very good access to government officials, and better organisational capacity than most civil society organisations. However, these societies also have many other important priorities, so it is important to get in touch with all national Red Cross/Crescent societies to exchange information about activities and ask how they intend to follow up on the action plan adopted in Sydney and what the

+ ICAN action points for Red Cross/Crescent outreach

  1. Read the action plan adopted by the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement (click here to download).
  2. Write an e-mail to your national Red Cross/Crescent society (click here to download a template letter to your national Red Cross/Crescent society, and here for a directory of all Red Cross/Crescent societies). Ask, if you don’t know already, for the names and contact details of the individual(s) participating in the Council of Delegates meeting in Sydney.
  3. Set a meeting with the individual(s) that participated in the Council of Delegates meeting to discuss how to best follow up on the 2013 action plan adopted by the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement in the run-up to the Vienna Conference.

Should you have any questions about how to proceed or how to use these resources, please contact ICAN Campaign and Advocacy Director Magnus Løvold at lovold@icanw.org.



  • aiweiwei

    “Let’s act up! Ban nuclear weapons completely and unconditionally.”

    Ai Weiwei Artist and activist

  • sheen

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    Martin Sheen Actor and activist

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    Ban Ki-moon Former UN chief

  • yokoono

    “We can do it together. With your help, our voice will be made still stronger. Imagine peace.”

    Yoko Ono Artist

  • jodywilliams

    “Governments say a nuclear weapons ban is unlikely. Don’t believe it. They said the same about a mine ban treaty.”

    Jody Williams Nobel laureate

  • desmondtutu

    “With your support, we can take ICAN its full distance – all the way to zero nuclear weapons.”

    Desmond Tutu Nobel laureate

  • herbiehancock

    “Because I cannot tolerate these appalling weapons, I whole-heartedly support ICAN.”

    Herbie Hancock Jazz musician

  • dalailama

    “I can imagine a world without nuclear weapons, and I support ICAN.”

    Dalai Lama Nobel laureate