International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement

The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement includes the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (Federation) and currently 187 recognized national Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies . All of these organizations are connected to each other through common principles, objectives, symbols, statutes and organs together and legally independent within the movement. The equally applicable worldwide mission of the movement – regardless of state institutions and on the basis of voluntary aid – are the protection of life, health and dignity as well as the reduction of suffering of people in need, regardless of nationality and origin or religious, ideological or political views of stakeholders and rescuer.

Established in 1863, the International Committee of the Red Cross consists of up to 25 Swiss citizens and is the only organization in international humanitarian law is recognized and known as the controlling body. It is the oldest organization of the movement and next to the Holy See and the Sovereign Military Order of Malta is one of the few original non- subjects of international law . Its exclusively humanitarian mission is based on the principles of impartiality, neutrality and independence, to protect the life and dignity of victims of war and internal conflicts.

The resulting 1919 International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, successor organization to the League of Red Cross Societies, coordinated within the movement, the cooperation between national Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and provides support for the development of new national societies. At international level, manages and organizes them, in cooperation with the National Societies, not war-related assistance missions after emergencies such as natural disasters and epidemics .

The national Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies are organizations in almost every country in the world that are active in their respective home country for the purposes of international humanitarian law and the statutes of the International Movement and support the work of the ICRC and the Federation. Their most important tasks in their home countries, the disaster and the spread of the Geneva Conventions . Within their means, they can also further social and humanitarian tasks perceive that are not directly defined by international rules or the principles of the movement. These include, in many countries, for example, the blood donation and the rescue services and the care of the elderly and other areas of social work .

From its founding in 1928 as the umbrella organization of the ICRC and the Federation until 1986 was renamed the official name of the International Red Cross movement. This up to the present widespread term and the resulting shortcut IRK should, however, be no longer used, if possible, as they can lead to problems in distinguishing between the ICRC and the Federation in the public perception.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)
Solferino, Henry Dunant and the foundation of the ICRC
Henry Dunant , author of A Memory of Solferino

Until the mid-19th Century, there was no systematic war even remotely Nursing, no reliable institutions to accommodate and treat the wounded, let alone a provision by provision of support staff in sufficient numbers and with appropriate equipment and training. In 1859, the Swiss businessman traveling Henry Dunant to Italy, where the French emperor Napoleon III. above his problems in obtaining land concessions in French-occupied Algeria to speak. He was born on 24 June 1859 near the small town of Solferino witnessed the Battle of Solferino and San Martino , killed some 6,000 soldiers in the course of a single day, about 25,000 were wounded. The totally inadequate medical care and support, as well as the suffering of the wounded soldiers terrified him so much that he completely forgot the original purpose of his trip and for several days devoted to the care of the wounded and the organization of relief efforts. Under the impact of these experiences he wrote a book, which he titled 1862 A Memory of Solferino, published at his own expense and sent to leading figures in politics and the military in Europe. Apart from a very vivid account of what he experienced in 1859, he suggested in this book to the formation of voluntary organizations, which should be prepared in the war in peacetime to help the wounded. In addition, he called for the conclusion of contracts in which the neutrality and protection of the wounded and the war they should be secured carers and all facilities made for them.
Original document of the first Geneva Convention , 1864

In his hometown of Geneva , Henry Dunant founded on 9 February 1863 with four other citizens – the jurist Gustave Moynier , the doctors Louis Appia and Théodore Maunoir and the Army General Guillaume-Henri Dufour – as the Commission of the Geneva Public Welfare Society , a committee of five to prepare for an international conference on the implementation of his ideas. Just eight days later, the five founding members decided to rename the Commission International Committee for Relief to the Wounded. Of 26 to 29 October of the same year, an international conference in Geneva was held at the suggestion of the Committee, “which will discuss the means by which you could remedy the inadequacy of medical services in the field”. [1] A total of 36 people attended this conference, and Although 18 official delegates from governments of their respective countries, six delegates from various clubs and organizations, seven non-official foreign participants and the five members of the International Committee. The countries represented at this conference by official delegates The decisions and demands of this conference, on 29 October 1863 were adopted in the form of resolutions, included, among others:

the creation of national relief societies for wounded soldiers
the neutrality of the wounded
the deployment of voluntary caregivers for assistance on the battlefield
the organization and implementation of other international conferences
the introduction of a characteristic and distinctive emblem in the form of a white armband with a red cross

A year later it came at the invitation of the Swiss government to all European countries and the United States of America, Brazil and Mexico, a diplomatic conference, 26 delegates from 16 countries participated in the. On 22 August 1864 was during this conference, the first Geneva Convention “on the Amelioration of the wounded military personnel in the Service” signed by representatives of twelve states. In the present Convention, the proposals for the protection and neutralization of the wounded, the auxiliary staff and appropriate facilities have been drawn up with ten articles. Furthermore, the Convention contained two conditions for recognition of a national society:

The national society must be approved in advance by the government of their country.
The government of the country must be previously joined the Geneva Convention.

At the end of 1863 with the Württemberg Medical Association , the first national company founded, followed shortly thereafter by the Association for the care of wounded warriors in the Grand Duchy of Oldenburg and other societies founded in 1864 in Belgium , Prussia , Denmark , France and Spain.
1864 to 1914
Memorial stone for the first use of the Red Cross during the Battle of the Diippel 1864

On 16 April 1864 participated in the Diippel first and assistants, Louis Appia and the Dutch Captain Charles van de Velde , and official delegates under the sign of the Red Cross in war part. 1867 took place the first International Red Cross Conference, with the participation of representatives from nine governments, 16 national Red Cross Societies and the International Committee. In the same year, Henry Dunant declaring bankruptcy and leave Geneva because of the desperate course of its business in Algeria. After Gustave Moynier had in 1864 assumed the chair of the International Committee, Henry Dunant was now completely excluded from the committee.

In the following years, in nearly all European countries for the establishment of national Red Cross societies – the German-French war of 1870/71 showed off its necessity. Prussia had a well-equipped with personnel and equipment Red Cross Society, the organization worked closely with the Prussian army. Because of this, the number of Prussian soldiers who died of disease or injury, including the number of casualties in the field. On the other hand, France had only an ill-prepared Red Cross Society, with the result that on the French side, the number of soldiers who died through illness or injury was three times higher than the number of fallen soldiers. In this war the first time other Red Cross societies like Russia, Switzerland, Ireland and Luxembourg participated by sending doctors and paramedics to a greater extent on the medical support. Clara Barton , who later became the founder of the American Red Cross, awarded for their use in this war of Emperor Wilhelm I , the Iron Cross awarded. In the aftermath of the war planned for 1873 in Vienna International Red Cross Conference did not take place until 1888 and it came back to Geneva to such a conference.

1876 ​​was the International Committee of the still valid name International Committee of the Red Cross (French: Comité international de la Croix-Rouge, CICR ​​- eng International Committee of the Red Cross, ICRC.). Two years later came the first time to relief work of the ICRC and some national Red Cross societies in favor of civilians, as the only recently founded Turkish Red Crescent Society to the end of the Balkan crisis in 1878 was a call to assist in the care of refugees to the Committee . Three years later, was founded in the United States on the initiative of Clara Barton, the American Red Cross. During the Spanish-American War in 1898 hospital ships were used in the flag of the Red Cross in an armed conflict at sea with the three ships Moynier, Red Cross and State of Texas for the first time.

Until the turn of the century, more and more countries signed the Geneva Convention and this also largely respected in armed conflicts. In 1901, Henry Dunant was awarded, together with the French pacifist Frédéric Passy , the first-ever Nobel Peace Prize . The congratulations, the committee submitted the occasion of the award ceremony meant for him after 34 years of the late rehabilitation and explicit recognition of his contribution to the creation of the Red Cross. Henry Dunant died nine years later on 30 October 1910 in Heiden (Switzerland), two months after Gustave Moynier.

In 1906, the First 1864 Geneva Convention was revised for the first time. Immediately before the start of World War I in 1914, fifty years after the adoption of the First Geneva Convention, there were 45 national societies. In addition to companies in almost all European countries and the United States existed other companies including in Central and South America (Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Cuba, Mexico, Peru, El Salvador, Uruguay, Venezuela), Asia (China, Japan, Korea, Siam), and Africa (South Africa).
The ICRC during World War II
The Ottoman Red Crescent doctors treat a wounded soldier. ( Jerusalem, 1917)
Prisoners of war file of the ICRC from the First World War, on permanent loan to the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Museum in Geneva

The First World War , the ICRC presented great challenges that it could handle only by working with the national Red Cross societies. Itself from the U.S. and Japan were Red Cross nurses to support the medical services of the European countries involved in the operation. On 15 October 1914, immediately after the outbreak of war, the ICRC set up its International Prisoners of War Agency, which already employs 1,200 mostly volunteer staff end 1914. From 1916 to 1919 the central office was in the Rath Museum housed. During the entire war, the Central Office sent 20 million letters and messages, almost 1.9 million packages and donations amounting to about 18 million Swiss francs to POWs of all states involved. It also came through the Central Agency for the exchange of approximately 200,000 prisoners. The index of the central body responsible for the 1914 built in the years up to 1923, contains about seven million index cards. It led to some two million cases for the identification of prisoners and thus to a contact between the prisoners and their families. The entire index can be seen today as a loan from the ICRC, the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Museum in Geneva, where an inspection remains the ICRC reserved.

The ICRC monitored throughout the war compliance with the Geneva Convention, as amended in 1906 and initiated complaints about violations to the participating States. In addition, the ICRC protested against the use of chemical weapons , the first came in the First World War for use. Without a mandate under the Geneva Convention, the ICRC also appointed to the civilian population affected by the war, particularly in occupied territories, where the ICRC to the Hague Convention could draw a legally binding agreement. Also based on the Hague Convention, the activities of the ICRC were in relation to prisoners of war , which, in addition to the already-described search service and information exchange especially the visit of war camps belonged. A total of 524 warehouses throughout Europe were visited by 41 delegates from the ICRC in the course of the war.

Between 1916 and 1918, the ICRC published a number of postcards with motives of his delegates visited the camp. For this, images were selected which, such as the mail distribution showed the prisoners in everyday activities. The aim of the publication of this map was to provide the families of the prisoners of hope, and to reassure them. After the war, the ICRC organized the return of about 420,000 prisoners to their home countries. For his activities during the First World War, the ICRC received the 1917 Nobel Peace Prize, the only one who was assigned to the war years 1914 to 1918.

The further repatriation of the prisoners was in 1920 by the newly founded League of Nations under the authority of the High Commissioner for Repatriation of Prisoners of War Fridtjof Nansen accepted. His mandate was later extended to support and care for war refugees and displaced persons. In support of these activities, he chose two delegates from the ICRC as his deputies.

In 1923, the committee decided that only citizens of Geneva allowed since the founding membership to repeal this definition in favor of a restriction on Swiss nationals.

As a direct consequence of World War I in terms of international humanitarian law occurred by the 1925 Geneva Protocol prohibiting the use of asphyxiating and poisonous gases and bacterial warfare agents for warfare. It was further revised in 1929 and again the First Geneva Convention adopted a new Convention “on the treatment of prisoners of war”. The events of World War I and the respective activities of the ICRC had a significant appreciation of his authority and his authority over the community and to expand its powers to order for the committee.

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