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History


CONTENTS

A Man A Book And An Idea

A Convention Is Signed In Geneva

The Emblem

A Movement Become Universal

Portrait Of An International Movement

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jean Henry Dunant

A Man A Book And An Idea

On 24 June 1859, the armies of imperial austria and the Franco- Sardinian alliance fought a day-long battle near the northern Italian village of Solferino. The casualties were heavy- some 40,000 dead, wounded or missing.military medical services at the time were virtually non-existent; as a result there was great suffering and many of the wounded died for lack of care. The injured were brought to the surrounding villages for whatever treatment they cound get. In the church at Castiglione, a young Swiss called Henry Dunant, horrified by the agony of the soldiers, began to organize help with the aid of the local people.
Returning home to Geneva, still haunted by what he had seen, he wrote a book about his experience. "A Memory of Solferino" , published in 1862, was acclaimed throughout Europe. In it,Dunant put forward an idea for supplementing armymedicalservices in times of war. This would be done through national relief societies which, in peacetime, would train their voluntary members for this work. Dunant also proposed that the wounded, and all those attending them, should be regarded as neutral, even on the battlefield.
To help promote the aims of the book, four citizens of Geneva - Gustave Moynier, who was President of the Geneva Public Welfare Society. General Guilaume-henri Dufour, Dr. Louis Appia and Dr. Theodore Maunoir-joined Dunant in setting up the "International Committee of Red Cross ( ICRC ).
Im response to an invitation from the International Committee, specialists from 16 coutries met in Geneva in October 1863 . They adopted ten resolutions that made up the founding charter of the Red Cross, defining the functions and working methods of the Committee for the Relief of the Wounded which Dunant had proposed. The Movement was born

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Convention

A Convention Is Signed In Geneva

For the International Committee, the major task still lay ahead : persuading government that the wounded and those caring for them should not be considerated adversaries, since they were not - or no longer - taking part in the fighting, and therefore needed protection. This concept of neutrality would have to be embodied in an international treaty providing for a protective emblem to be used by all armies, to identify medical personnel, hospitals and ambulances.
To this end Swii Government undertook to convene, in Geneva, a diplomatic conference, to be held in August 1864. Delegates of 12 government took part. and adopted a draft treaty prepared by the International Committee.the agreement was called the " Geneva Convention for the Amelioration of the Condition of the Wounded in Armies in the Field.
This treaty, with its ten articles, was a milestone in the history of humanity. war andlaw had, util ten, benn considerated irreconcilable. The founders of Red Cross argued, however, that law could apply even during war, and could regulate, in certain respects, the conduct of soldiers.
From then on ambulances, military hospitals and medicla staff were to be "recognised as neutral and, as such, protected and respected by the belligerents... Wounded or sick combatants, to whatever nation they belong, shall be collected and care for".
At the same time the red cross on a white ground (the Swiss flag reversed), which had been adopted in 1863 as the symbol of the embryonic Red Cross movement, was incorporated in the treaty as the proctective emblem of the military medical services.
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Emblem

The Emblem

The emblem of a red cross on a white ground was created with a specific purpose: to ensure the protection of those wonded in war and those who care for them. any misuse of this sign instituted bythe Geneva Convention of 1864 - for example, by transporting armed troops in an ambulance, or by flying a red cross flag over a munitions dump - is not only a breach of international law but also threatens the very notion of protection granted by the emblem.
To prevent such breaches, States party to the Geneva Conventions must issue strict regulations on the use of the emblem. It may only be displayed on vehicles, aircraft, ships, buildings and installations assiged to transport and shelter the wounded, and worn by the personnel who care for them. it is forbidden to use the emblem for commercial or publicity purposes. Natinal Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies are also allowed to use the emblem to identify their premises, vehicles and equipment, as well as their staff, who often wear a uniform or badge. In this case the emblem must be small, so as not to be confused with the wartime protective sigh.
The 1864 Convention mentioned only the red cross. A second emblem made its appearancea few years later, and it still in use - the red crescent .The cross had been adopted as a triibute to Switserland, and had not been intended to have any religious significance; in 1876, however, during the Russo- Turkish war, the Ottoman Siciety for Relief to the Wounded replaced it by a red crescent.
This tmblem has since been adopted by a number or countries in the Islamic world. It is recognized as having equal status with the red cross, and as such is mentioned in 1949 Geneva COnventions and their Additional Protocols

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A Movement Become Universal

the members of the founding committe in Geneva, anxious to make full use of the tide of good will on which the movement had been launched, lost no time in encouraging the formation of relief committees. Such was their zeal, and so great the ethusiasm for the Red Cross idea. that within ten years national committees had been established in 22 European States. It was not long before the universal appeal of a humanitarian organization free from racial, cultural, religious and political bias, led to the spreading of the Movement beyong the confined of Europe to the Americans, the Far East and africa. Today there are Red Cross or red Crescent Societies (as the committees are now called) in almost every country in the world; their members are all united by the same ideals and, a major factor in ensuring unity and upholding the Movement's Priciples, by the same statutes and operating rules.
the International Conferences of the red Cross set ten conditions which a society must meet to become a member of the Movement. The ICRC, in its capacity as independent and neutral institution, was enstrusted - first implicitly and later by statute - with the task of determining whether a National Society meets the ten conditions and, if so, grantingit recognition. The Society is then admitted to the International Federation of red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.
The conditions state that a Society must :
  1. Be constituted on the territory of an independent State where the Geneva Convention for the Amelioration of the Condition of the Wounded and Sick in Armed Forces in the Field is in force.
  2. Be the only national Red Cross or Red Crescent Society of the said State and be directed by a central body which shall alone be cometent to represent it in its dealings with other components of the Movement.
  3. Be duly recognized by the legal government of its country on the basis of the Geneva Convetions and of the national legislation as a voluntary aid society, auxiliary to the public authorities in the humanitarian field.
  4. Have an automous status which allows it to operate in conformity with the fundamental Principles of the Movement.
  5. Use the name and emblem of the Red Cross or Red Crescent in conformity with the fundamental Principles of the Movement.
  6. be so organized as to be able to fulfill the tasks defined in its own statutes, including the preparation in peacetime for its statutory tasks in case of armed conflict.
  7. Extend its activities to the entire territory of the State.
  8. Recruit its voluntary members and its staff without consideration of race, sex,class,religion or political opinions.
  9. Adhere to the Movement's statute, share in the fellowship which unites the components of the Movement and cooperate with them.
  10. Respect the fundamental Principles of the Movement and beguided in its work by the principles of international humanitarian law.
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Portrait Of An International Movement

Caring for the wounded in war, helping the mentally and physically handicapped, visiting detainees, bring relief to earthquake victims, restoring contract between relatives seperated by conflict, giving courses in child care and hygiene, encouraging blood donation, protecting the population in occupied territoty - the activities are diverse, but they all have one porpose: to help those who suffer, without discrimination.
Today, more than a century after henry Dunant's humanitarian initiative on the battlefield of Solferino, the international Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement is active in 150 countries throughout the world.
This booklet sketches the portrait of the Movement, showing how it began and what it is today.
 

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