150 Years Of Humanitarian Action

The International Day of the Red Cross and Red Crescent, falls each year on 8th May, the anniversary of the birth of Henry Dunant, the Swiss citizen who in 1963 founded the Red Cross,  after which he was extremely moved by the horrors of the Battle of Solferino which drew the world's attention to the necessity of establishing relief societies and promote an international agreement for the relief of the wounded and for those who care for them; one of the founders of the International Committee for the Relief to the Wounded which later became the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

As customary, each year all the National Societies around the world organize an activity to commemorate this important day in the history of the Red Cross. The theme for this year’s celebration is “150 years of humanitarian action”. 150 years ago when the ICRC was formed many humanitarian acts has been done all over the globe, millions of people have been assisted and helped to relieve them from their suffering and crisis. Initially it started during the fight of Solferino whereby the wounded had to be given help no matter which side they have been fighting for. It is for these simple reasons that the Red Cross and the Red Crescent movements carry out their humanitarian acts under 7 Fundamental Principles:

1.    Humanity: The desire to bring assistance without discrimination to the wounded on the battle field,  endeavours to prevent and alleviate human suffering. Its purpose is to protect life and health to ensure respect for human dignity. It promotes mutual understanding, friendship, cooperation and lasting peace amongst all people.

2.    Impartiality: It makes no discrimination as to nationality, race, religious belief, class, political opinions. It endeavours to relieve the suffering of individuals, being guided solely by their needs, and to give priority to the most urgent cases of distress.

3.   Neutrality: In order to continue to enjoy the confidence of all, the movement may not take sides in hostilities or engage at any time in controversies of a political, racial, religious or ideological nature.

4.    Independence: The movement is independent. While being auxiliaries to the government, must always maintain their autonomy so that they may act according to the principles of the movement.

5.    Voluntary: It is a voluntary Relief movement not prompted in any manner by desire for gain.

6.    Unity: There can be only one Red Cross or one Red Crescent in any one country. It must be open to all. It must carry on its humanitarian work throughout its territory.

7.    Universality: The International Red Cross and Red Crescent movement, in which all societies have equal status and share equal responsibilities and duties in helping each other, is worldwide.

To mark these cornerstones we are highlighting the richness of our past and engaging in global conversation about today’s humanitarian challenges and how to make a real difference for people affected by ongoing and emerging crisis.