What is the purpose of ICRC?

While reading news about any war-stricken country, you must have read about International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) giving aid to the victims. However, do you know what ICRC is?


ICRC, established in 1863, is an independent and neutral organisation that helps people who are affected by conflict and armed violence and promote the laws protecting victims of war.

Its work is based on the Geneva Conventions of 1949, which are international treaties that protect people who do not take part in the fighting (civilians, medics, aid workers) and those who can no longer fight (wounded, sick, and shipwrecked troops. prisoners of war, etc.).

The ICRC was formed in response to the experiences of its founder. Jean-Henri Dunant, during Italy’s Battle of Solferino in 1859. He had witnessed wounded soldiers left to die over lack of adequate medical services.

In 1862, he published an account of the Solferino’s situation

By next year, his popularity led to the formation of International Committee for the Relief of the Wounded with the help of Geneva Society for Public Welfare.

This committee became the International Committee of the Red Cross in 1875.

The ICRC is now one of the components of a large network that includes national Red Cross and Red Crescent societies and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.


The governments attending the diplomatic conference, wherein the First Geneva Convention in 1864 was adopted, decided that a clear neutral sign was needed on the battlefield to protect medical staff and facilities.

A red cross on a white background, the exact reverse of the flag of neutral Switzerland, was opted. The emblem is recognisable at a distance because of its contrasting colours.

At present, there are three emblems that are used by the ICRC-red cross, red crescent, and red crystal. They provide protection for military medical services and relief workers in armed conflicts.

Recently, two ICRC workers were kidnapped in Mali (the country is battling insurgencies that broke out in the north of the country in 2012). Such deliberate attacks a person, equipment, or a building having a protective emblem is a war crime under international law.

The organisation

ICRC’s headquarters is in Geneva, Switzerland. It is funded mainly by voluntary donations from governments and from nation Red Cross and Red Crescent societies.

The work of the ICRC in both World Wars was recognised the Nobel Prize for Peace in 1917 and 1944. It shared another Nobel Peace Prize with the League of Red Cross Societie in 1963, the year of the 100th anniversary of the ICRC’S founding.

All the members are Swiss mainly because of the origin f the Red Cross.

The current president of is Mirjana Spoljaric, who previously served as the United Nations Assistant Secretary-General.

Picture Credit : Google