Red Cross/Red Crescent History
Red Cross/Red Crescent History
The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement is the world’s largest humanitarian network, with a presence and activities in almost every country.
The Movement incorporates the Geneva-based International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (the International Federation), as well as National Societies in 186 countries.
With a vibrant and varied history, from its birth in the aftermath of battle in 1859 and the vision of founder Henry Dunant and four other men, through two world wars and up to today, the Movement is widely acknowledged as an unstoppable force for help and compassion. The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement is an international humanitarian movement with approximately 97 million volunteers, members and staff worldwide which was founded to protect human life and health, to ensure respect for all human beings, and to prevent and alleviate human suffering, without any discrimination based on nationality, race, sexual orientation, sex, gender identity, religious beliefs, class, allegiance, or political opinions.
The movement consists of several distinct organizations that are legally independent from each other, but are united within the movement through common basic principles, objectives, symbols, statutes and governing organisations. The movement’s parts are:
• The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) was founded in 1863 in Geneva, Switzerland, by Henry Dunant and Gustave Moynier. Its 25-member committee has a unique authority under international humanitarian law to protect the life and dignity of the victims of international and internal armed conflicts. The ICRC was awarded the Nobel Peace Prizeon three occasions (in 1917, 1944 and 1963).
• The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) was founded in 1919 and today it coordinates activities between the 188 National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies within the Movement. On an international level, the Federation leads and organizes, in close cooperation with the National Societies, relief assistance missions responding to large-scale emergencies. The International Federation Secretariat is based in Geneva, Switzerland. In 1963, the Federation (then known as the League of Red Cross Societies) was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize jointly with the ICRC.
• National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies exist in nearly every country in the world. Currently 188 National Societies are recognized by the ICRC and admitted as full members of the Federation. Each entity works in its home country according to the principles of international humanitarian law and the statutes of the international Movement. Depending on their specific circumstances and capacities, National Societies can take on additional humanitarian tasks that are not directly defined by international humanitarian law or the mandates of the international Movement. In many countries, they are tightly linked to the respective national health care system by providing emergency medical services.