11 Dec 2019
STATEMENT BY THE REPUBLIC OF SINGAPORE TO THE UNITED NATIONS OFFICE AT GENEVA, AT THE 33RD INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE OF THE RED CROSS AND RED CRESCENT, 11 DECEMBER 2019
This year’s International Conference takes place in a landmark year – the 70th Anniversary of the Geneva Conventions.
This is a cause for celebration, as the Geneva Conventions are one of the few universally ratified international treaties and a key component of the rules-based multilateral system. We must rebuild the consensus around international law and institutions.
Unfortunately, we are meeting at a time where the number of humanitarian challenges facing the world have only increased.
Since the last International Conference in 2015, the number of active conflicts has risen, and the attendant complexities have been further compounded by global trends such as climate change, rapid urbanisation and extremism.
The Humanitarian ideals and imperatives of organisations like the International Red Cross and Red Crescent and its National Societies have never been more relevant, and enables the Movement to operate in challenging environments where trust is key.
Singapore is not immune to natural and man-made disasters and global threats. As a small-island state we are naturally vulnerable, for example, to the consequences of global climate change.
To mitigate these vulnerabilities we plan for the long-term and integrate disaster risk reduction strategies into our national development strategies. We intend to set aside about 100 billion Singapore dollars over the next 50 to 100 years to address climate change. But it is not sufficient to merely focus on national strategies. Global problems require global solutions.
At the international level, Singapore contributes to international humanitarian missions.
For example, Singapore assisted the Texas Army National Guard in Hurricane Harvey relief operations in September 2017. Closer to home, Singapore extended assistance in Indonesia following the earthquake and tsunami in September 2018, in Laos following the collapse of the Xe Pian-Xe Namnoy dam in July 2018, and in Taiwan following the earthquake affecting Hualien in February 2018.
We also share our experience in disaster risk preparedness and resilience-building with fellow developing states. Since 2015, as part of the Singapore Cooperation Programme, we collaborate with the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR) to build capacity in developing countries to implement the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction. The most recent iteration of this course took place in September.
In June 2019, Singapore also partnered with the UNDRR to provide customized training to strengthen the disaster resilience of 16 Caribbean countries that are among those most affected by climate change and natural disasters.
Singapore is a small state; we do not dictate the global agenda but are not entirely without agency. We will continue to contribute to multilateral efforts to address the grave humanitarian challenges facing us today. But we cannot do so alone. As an international community, we must together answer the call of this year’s International Conference to “Act Today, Shape Tomorrow”. Collectively we need to chart a way forward to maintain peace and prosperity in the world, and build a broader regional and international architecture of cooperation.
I thank you.
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