On 9 June 2017, the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Secretariat and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) signed a memorandum of understanding on the sidelines of the SCO Heads of State Council Meeting in Astana. The document was signed by SCO Secretary-General Rashid Alimov and ICRC Vice President Christine Beerli.
The memorandum declares that the parties will maintain a dialogue on issues related to international humanitarian law (IHL) applicable only to armed conflicts; help implement IHL norms and other international legal documents; circulate legal information about the IHL and its implementation; develop a dialogue in the humanitarian sphere; and organise events to prevent and respond to emergencies.
The parties will also cooperate in law enforcement, education and healthcare by regularly exchanging information, legal documents and recommendations on issues of mutual interest. They will also cooperate drafting and implementing joint projects and programmes.
Before the signing ceremony, the SCO secretary-general and the ICRC vice president had a meeting where they exchanged opinions on the areas of cooperation of mutual interest.
"We highly appreciate the work done by the ICRC, as its actions demonstrate the organisation's independence and neutrality, and its adherence to the supremacy of law and provision of humanitarian protection," said Mr Alimov. "The SCO shares the same values — respect for generally recognised goals and principles of international law, first of all those related to maintaining global peace and security, developing cooperation between nations, and respect for independence and equality. The SCO proceeds from a format of equal multilateral partnership. This is what we base and will continue to base our interaction with all international structures, regional and non-governmental organisations, on, in particular the ICRC."
The signing of the memorandum with the ICRC, one of the world's oldest organisations, clearly indicates that the SCO seeks to focus on the humanitarian aspect and on ensuring prosperity for people living in the SCO countries.
The International Committee of the Red Cross is an independent organisation that was set up to provide protection and aid to those affected by armed conflicts and clashes. Its other functions include caring for the wounded, visiting prisoners of war and those in jail, reuniting separated families, protecting civilians, providing aid to victims of conflicts and coordinating efforts of the search and rescue services. The ICRC also provides medical aid in the world's hot spots, delivers and distributes humanitarian aid and looks after refugee camps in armed conflict zones and areas hit by natural disasters. The organisation was founded in 1863 and is based in Switzerland (Geneva).