Every year 08 May is observed as the World Red Cross and Red Crescent Day across the globe. This day marks the birth anniversary of Henry Dunant. A Swiss businessman and social activist, Henry Dunant, co-founded the International Committee of the Red Cross in 1863 to protect the life and dignity of the victims of international and internal armed conflicts.
The World Red Cross day celebrates and reiterates seven fundamental principles of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. This Movement was started for humanitarian causes. It currently has around 1 billion supporters in the form of staff, members and volunteers all across the world. This makes the Red Cross the world’s largest humanitarian network. It provides protection and assistance to people affected by disasters and conflicts.
History of the World Red Cross Day
Following the end of the First World War, an initiative called ‘Red Cross Truce’ was studied by a commission established at the 14th International Conference of the Red Cross. The initiative was about an annual action that could be held worldwide and which would act as a major contributor in establishing world peace.
Report of the commission which studied the Red Cross Truce was presented in 1934 at the 15th International Conference of the Red Cross. The conference approved the report.
However, it was only two years after the conclusion of the Second World War that the proposal of an annual International Red Cross Day was adopted in 1948. Since then, 08 May is observed as the World Red Cross Day all across the globe.
The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement
Components of the Movement
International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement has three main components.
- The International Committee of the Red Cross
- The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies
- Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (192 members)
Each one of the above are independent bodies having its own individual status. No superiority or authority of one over the other.
Objective of the Movement
- To protect human life and health;
- Ensure respect for all human beings;
- Prevent and alleviate human suffering.
Logo of the Movement
Logo of the movement consists of the red cross and red crescent emblems side by side. “International” and “Movement” are written together in six different languages. The languages are English, Arabic, French, Russian, Spanish and Chinese.
7 Principles of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement
The official statutes of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement included seven fundamental principles shared by all components of the Red Cross Movement. Proclaimed in 1965, these 7 principles assures the continuity of the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement and its humanitarian work. These 7 principles are humanity, impartiality, neutrality, independence, voluntary service, unity and universality. These principles are explained in detail below.
It was the desire of equal and universal assistance to the wounded in the battlefield and prevention of the human sufferings which led to the establishment of this movement.The aspect of humanity is the primary feature of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. The purpose of the movement is protection of life and health. It ensures respect for human beings. Mutual understanding, friendship, cooperation and lasting peace among all peoples are the underlying values promoted by the movement.
The movement endeavors to provide relief to individuals without any discrimination. Nationality, race, religious beliefs, class or political opinions must not become a ground for any form of discrimination. Urgency must be prioritized. All efforts under the movement must be impartial and shall be solely guided by the needs.
In the event of any political, racial, religious or ideological controversies, the movement is expected to maintain neutrality.
It is an independent movement. Thus, auxiliaries of the movement are expected to maintain autonomy while ensuring full compliance to the law of the land where it is providing its aid. This also ensures that the auxiliaries are able to function in accordance with the basic principles of the movement.
5. Voluntary Service
The movement has no motive of any gains. It is entirely a voluntary relief movement.
The feeling of unity and solidarity is highly regarded and valued. Thus, one country can have only one Red Cross and one Red Crescent Society. The societies are open to everyone. Even the humanitarian work is carried on throughout the territory.
It reiterates that the Red Cross Red Crescent movement is a worldwide movement. It considers and treats all societies universally and equally. In helping each-other, equal share of responsibilities and duties lie on the shoulders of each member.