International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement

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. Within it there are three 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.

International Red Cross
and Red Crescent Movement
The Red Cross and Red Crescent emblems, the symbols from which the movement derives its name, Geneva, 2005
The three emblems in use:
Red Cross, Red Crescent, Red Crystal
Above, emblems of the Red Cross and Red Crescent, below, places where the organization is based, differentiating its different denomination by colors around the world
  • 9 February 1863 (9 February 1863)
    (International Committee
    of the Red Cross)
  • May 1919 (May 1919) (actual form)
Area served
 UN (United Nations General Assembly) CICR and FICR
Key people
Peter Maurer
c. 18,000
c. 16,4 million[1]

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), a private humanitarian institution, was founded in 1863 in Geneva, Switzerland, in particular by Henry Dunant and Gustave Moynier.[2] 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 Prize on three occasions (in 1917, 1944 and 1963).[3]

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) was founded in 1919 and today it coordinates between the 192 National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies within the Movement, internationally 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 192 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. They are tightly linked to the respective national health care system by providing emergency medical services in every country.