Mr. Deputy Secretary-General,
Representatives of National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a great honor to be with you today at the occasion of the signature of a Memorandum of Understanding between the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and the International Federation of ICVolunteers.
Your Federation's history goes back to 1919. You have since achieved much and are today the world's largest humanitarian organization. I know that much of your efforts are based in volunteer work.
ICVolunteers' history is more recent. It was founded after a large conference on HIV/AIDS held here in Geneva for which over 800 volunteers were recruited, trained and coordinated. This happened exactly 10 years ago. Since, the organization has been involved in over 260 projects in 30 countries. Our work has been focused not only on conferences but communications in the large sense of the term, with three main focuses which are conference support, languages and cybervolunteerism. Development, exchange of information and service to the society at large are the key elements shared by the communities or organizations involved and by the individuals volunteering though us.
We had the occasion to collaborate for the first time with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in 2001 at the occasion of the closing event of the International Year of Volunteers which we jointly organized with the United Nations Volunteers and other partners.
I think we all agree that volunteerism is a building block not only for non profit organizations but society in a larger sense. We, at ICVolunteers, have therefore always been committed to promoting volunteerism as a win-win situation, as a creation of opportunities for volunteers and those who need volunteer support. We have included in that the use of technology as a means for development and empowerment of local communities.
I am very happy to say that our collaboration with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies has taken a much more important shape with our involvement in many aspects of the conference that brings you together for the next three days.
You will see reporters in sessions, welcoming volunteers and also the interpreters who are here on a voluntary basis. I would like to thank all of them for their commitment and dedication. A special thank you goes also to Bruce, Milo, Jocelyne, Polly, Corinne and Melina for the fruitful collaboration.
As to you, dear Delegates and honorable Guest, I wish you a positive, productive and constructive conference and hope that our two organizations will have many more occasions to cooperate in the near future.