Foundation of International Red Cross

Jean-Henry Dunant

Jean-Henry Dunant

Officially, International Movement of the Red Cross and Red Crescent formerly International Red Cross
The Red Cross is a humanitarian agency with national affiliates worldwide.
The initiative of establishing the International Red Cross in the 19th century came from a gracious Swiss businessman named Jean-Henry Dunant. Influenced by the scenes of Sulferino War in Italy in 1859 in which 40,000 killed or wounded soldiers were abandoned, he wrote a book entitled ‘The Sulferino Memories’. In the book, he proposed the formation of voluntary relief societies in all countries, asking all state leaders to form health associations in response. Through these efforts he sought to establish an organization to help the injured. His struggle bore fruit when five Swiss citizens formed a committee that was later named the International Committee of Red Cross. The committee called for an international conference which was finally held in Geneva on October 16, 1863, attended by representatives from 16 countries. In 1963, Red Cross committees had spread throughout 88 countries across the globe. The name Red Crescent, adopted in 1906 by the Ottoman Empire, is used in Muslim countries.
In peacetime, the Red Cross aids victims of natural disasters, maintains blood banks and provides supplementary health care services. In wartime, it serves as an intermediary between belligerents and visits prisoner-of-war camps to provide relief supplies, deliver mail, and transmit information between prisoners and their relatives. Its operating principles are humanity, impartiality, and neutrality. The Red Cross main headquarters is stationed in Geneva. Individual national organizations run community programs and coordinate natural-disaster relief efforts. In 1901 Dunant received the first Nobel Peace Prize; the Red Cross itself received the prize in 1917, 1944, and 1963.