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Comment of British, Australian and Canadian Red Cross Societies: Protection of International Olympic Committee (IOC) / Red Cross Names (RCRC) Drafting Team - Recommendations

  • To: <ioc-rcrc-recommendations@xxxxxxxxx>
  • Subject: Comment of British, Australian and Canadian Red Cross Societies: Protection of International Olympic Committee (IOC) / Red Cross Names (RCRC) Drafting Team - Recommendations
  • From: "Michael Meyer" <MMeyer@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Fri, 12 Oct 2012 14:20:16 +0100

We wish to offer the following comments in relation to the proposed 
recommendations for the protection of the Red Cross/ Red Crescent and IOC 
names. Although we work for Red Cross entities, our intention is not to plead a 
special case for our organisations. Rather, we felt it may be useful to 
explain, simply in the hope that it will aid understanding, why the protection 
of the names "Red Cross", "Red Crescent" and those related to them is a unique 
matter warranting distinct attention.
We note the desire expressed by several members to avoid granting protection to 
individual organisations, and we certainly understand the impetus to create a 
level playing field. However, we would emphasise that the central reason for 
seeking protection of "Red Cross", "Red Crescent" and related names lies in 
their special status under international humanitarian law (namely, the 1949 
Geneva Conventions). These names are not only, or even primarily, the titles of 
individual Red Cross and Red Crescent organisations. Rather, they relate to the 
distinctive emblems adopted by Governments and displayed during times of armed 
conflict to indicate the neutrality of, and protection owed to, the individual, 
vehicle or building upon which they appear. In particular, the emblems of the 
red cross and red crescent are used by the Medical Service of the armed forces 
(as well as by Red Cross and Red Crescent organisations).  
To preserve this special meaning and purpose, use of the red cross, red 
crescent and related emblems (as well as their names) is restricted, not only 
by international law (as described above), but also by national legislation in 
most countries. This may help to explain why Governments (who are ultimately 
responsible for regulation of the emblems and their names) have supported their 
protection in the context of the gTLD process, through the GAC. Similar efforts 
undertaken by Red Cross and Red Crescent organisations to seek protection for 
these names is based on our collective responsibility to uphold their special 
meaning and status.
In short, this is not a name, brand or trademark protection exercise for Red 
Cross/ Red Crescent organisations. While these organisations are privileged to 
use the distinctive emblems and their associated names (in many instances only 
with the delegated authority of the State), such emblems/names have a distinct 
humanitarian function (in particular in times of armed conflict), confirmed by 
binding treaty law that is universally endorsed. Protecting these names within 
the gTLD process (and related processes) would therefore rightly reflect the 
long-established legal restrictions on their use, and by effect, help to uphold 
their humanitarian purpose.
Finally, regarding the decision-making process, our understanding was that the 
necessary decisions within ICANN had already been taken to adopt the principle 
of protection as a matter of policy, and that remaining consultations were to 
be focused on technical implementation of the policy. However, we also 
appreciate that a PDP has been recommended by the drafting team (albeit without 
consensus). In our view, if a PDP is pursued, a temporary moratorium on use of 
the names is vital to ensure their protected status is upheld in the interim.
Thank you all in advance for your consideration: we hope the above comments are 
clear and helpful. Again, we would emphasise that our intention is not to seek 
to differentiate Red Cross and Red Crescent organisations from other non-profit 
and/or humanitarian organisations. Rather, it is simply to ensure that the 
special humanitarian purpose and unique status of these names, as well as the 
existing international and national legal protections on their use, are well 
understood and upheld.
Michael Meyer
Head of International Law
British Red Cross
Helen Durham
Head, International Law and Principles
Australian Red Cross
Ilario Maiolo
Senior Legal Advisor
Canadian Red Cross

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