History of BRCS
Bhutan has been experiencing several incidents of natural calamities in various parts of the country causing destruction to human lives, properties, and the environment. The Royal Government of Bhutan, guided by the principles of Gross National Happiness, has always deemed it important to protect the lives and properties of the people and ensure their safety and security.
In order to obtain assistance and support from international bodies like the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent (IFRC), the existence of the National Red Cross Society in Bhutan was of utmost importance.
Despite various efforts, much remains to be done in strengthening the disaster management system. His Majesty the King is deeply concerned about our preparedness should a disaster beyond the national management capacity strike us.
The most compelling reason is that Bhutan is highly vulnerable to various hazards such as earthquake, flash flood, glacial lake outburst flood, windstorm, forest fire/structural fire, and landslides.
At the command of His Majesty The King and Her Majesty The Gyaltsuen, an eight-member Steering Committee was formed to work on the establishment of the Bhutan Red Cross Society.
Accordingly, the National Assembly of Bhutan on November 24, 2016, passed the Bhutan Red Cross Society (BRCS) Bill with all 44 members in attendance voted in favour of the Bill to be passed.
On May 8, 2017, coinciding with the World Red Cross Day, Bhutan Red Cross Society was officially launched and blessed by Her Majesty The Gyaltsuen, the Hon’ble President of BRCS.
The Society came into existence as a voluntary aid society, auxiliary to the public authorities in the humanitarian field, recognized and authorized on the basis of the Geneva Conventions that will carry out its activities throughout the territory of the Kingdom of Bhutan.
However, the Red Cross Movement was not new to Bhutan. Bhutan has been a signatory to the Geneva Conventions 1949 since 1991. Bhutan’s long connection with the Movement dates back to the First World War when His Majesty the First King, Gongsar Ugyen Wangchuck, made a contribution of Nu 2 million to the International Red Cross.
As an auxiliary to the government, BRCS is the frontline service provider in disaster management, health promotion, and social services.
Bhutan Red Cross Society was established formally on May 8, 2017 with the blessings from the President of the national society, Her Majesty The Queen. As the President, Her Majesty The Queen addressed the gathering at the launch: “These seven principles represent timeless morals and it deeply resonates with Bhutan’s own guiding philosophy of Gross National Happiness, which places human welfare as the most vital objective of the Royal Government.
It has, as our National conscience, guided our Kingdom to build a society that places collective well-being above oneself and inspires us to serve humanity with kindness, integrity and strength of heart. .”
These true blessings from the President had encouraged everyone nationally and internationally to support in establishing one of the youngest national societies globally.
The ground works for the establishment of the national society started as early as 2008 when, with the financial support of the Swiss Red Cross in partnership with IFRC & ICRC, the national report i.e. “locally perceived needs and readiness for the establishment of a Bhutanese Red Cross Society” was completed in 2009. Based on this report as commanded by His Majesty The King and Her Majesty The Queen in 2014 to Mr Dragyel Tenzin Dorjee, a Swiss Red Cross Delegate then, and to the Chamberlain to His Majesty, the ground works for the establishment of the Bhutan Red Cross Society started. The two started to form a “working committee” that would initiate the establishment of the young national society.
Later in 2017, after the main task of the working committee in getting the Bhutan Red Cross Society Act enacted by Parliament, the working committee handed over the national society establishment to a fully functioning management, with the seven members of the working committee as per the President’s order transited to form the Interim-Governing Board.
And finally, after the launch of Bhutan Red Cross Society, the Interim Governing Board and the management started to establish the national society based on a strategic development plan 2017-2020.