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Diplomacy in Action

67. Legal Adviser statement on adoption of protocol providing for additional distinctive emblem ("Protocol III") to the Geneva Conventions


Diplomatic Conference on the adoption of
an additional protocol to the Geneva Conventions

U.S. Statement delivered by
Mr. John B. Bellinger III
Legal Advisor to the U.S. Department of State

December 5, 2005
Geneva, Switzerland

I would like to thank the Swiss Government, the International Committee of the Red Cross, the Federation, and the Standing Commission for their tremendous efforts to organize a successful diplomatic conference. As the Legal Advisor to the Department of State, I am very pleased to be here for this important occasion. Over 150 nations have come to Geneva again to take up the work started by Henry Dunant and Gustave Moynier in 1864. We believe that the distinctive emblems are critically important to identifying and offering safety to medical and religious personnel in the fog of the battlefield and the aftermath of a natural disaster. Over time, the Red Cross and Red Crescent have become symbols of humanity's compassion, recognized worldwide by those in need. Now, the time has come to make the emblems available to all by creating a new distinctive emblem.

This diplomatic conference illustrates what we can accomplish through concerted dialogue and mutual commitment to humanitarian principles. As U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said in October at the State Department's Iftaar dinner, "[L]istening to one another and exchanging ideas respectfully and cooperating wherever and whenever we can ... is ... the mission of diplomacy." Two organizations here today have offered us fresh proof of this truth. Indeed, the Palestine Red Crescent Society and the Magen David Adom were able to use their shared commitment to the Movement's Fundamental Principles as a foundation for cooperation. They concluded a Memorandum of Understanding and an operational agreement on November 28 that established practical arrangements to fulfill their humanitarian mission. We believe this MOU is a significant achievement that will facilitate the harmonious adoption of the Third Protocol.

The United States wishes further to commend all of the parties that contributed in the productive negotiations in 2000. We have great appreciation for all of the hard work and thorough consultations that went into preparing this text for our adoption. We believe that this draft will accomplish the humanitarian purposes that we have set out and that no further changes are necessary. We are pleased to support the draft Additional Protocol and urge all governments to support the adoption of this text.

(End text)

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