The Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement began on a hot June day in 1859 Henry Dunant, a Swiss banker travelling on business in northern Italy, witnessed the aftermath of the Battle of Solferino a horrifying and bloody conflict between 300,000 soldiers from Imperial Austria and the Franco-Sardinian Alliance.


1828 (8 May)

Henry Dunant is born in Geneva, Switzerland.

1859 (24 June)

Franco-Sardinian and Austrian troops clash in Battle of Solferino, near northern Italian town of Castiglione della Pieve. Swiss businessman Henry Dunant (aged thirty-one), horrified by the slaughter, helps to care for the wounded of both sides. This battle leads, ultimately, to formation of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement.


Henry Dunant's book, A Memory of Solferino , is published. In it, he puts forward ways of helping the wounded in wartime.

1863 (17 Feb)

The first meeting of the 'Committee of Five', formed to give support to Dunant's ideas, takes place in Geneva.International Committee formed for relief of military wounded . In 1876, committee becomes International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

1863 (23-29 Oct)

An international conference, called to launch the Red Cross Movement, opens in Geneva. A red cross on a white background is adopted as the Movement 's symbol.

Adoption of the Red Cross on white background (reverse of Swiss flag) as protective emblem and establishment of national committees for the relief of military wounded.

1864 (22 Aug)

The first Geneva Convention is signed by representatives of twelve countries. Twelve states sign 10 articles forming the first Geneva Convention -- protection of international law both to wounded enemy soldiers and those caring for them.


The first ICRC International conference of the Red Cross, attended by nine governments, 16 National Committees and the International Committee, is held at Paris of France. Subsequent conferences to turn of century held in Berlin (1869), Geneva (1884), Karlsruhe (1887), Rome (1892) and Vienna (1897).


The Geneva committee adopts the title 'International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)'


The Red Crescent is first used as an alternative emblem to the Red Cross in Islamic countries.


The Hague Conventions: (1) Laws and customs of war on land (Convention No. II) (2) Adaptation to maritime warfare of the principles of the 1864 Geneva Convention (Convention No. III)


Henry Dunant awarded Nobel Peace Prize.

1910 (30 Oct)

Henry Dunant dies, in Switzerland, aged eighty-two.


During World War One, ICRC delegates visit prisoners of war and call for improvements in conditions of detention. Two million individual parcels sent to prisoners. Around 120,000 people seek out ICRC for information on captured missing military personnel. War reveals urgent need to protect civilian internees.


The ICRC wins Nobel Peace Prize


The League (now the International Federation) of Red Cross and Red Cross Crescent National Societies is founded at Paris of France and becomes League of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies from 1983 and IInternational Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies from 1991.


A third Geneva Convention lays down rules to protect and care for prisoners of war. [ Wounded and sick in armed forces in the field [revision of the 1906 Geneva Convention] (1st Convention) and Prisoners of war [supplements the 1899 Hague Convention No.II and 1907 Hague Convention No.IV] (2nd Convention)] 

Official recognition of the Red Crescent emblem (first used in 1876)


League of Red Cross Societies moves headquarters from Paris to Geneva at outbreak of World War II


World War II, The ICRC again checks observance of the Geneva Conventions, traces and protects prisoners of war, and handles prisoners' mail. National Societies and the League organize food parcels and, at the end of the war, bring relief to millions of refugees. At the outset, the ICRC got all parties to the conflict to extend provisions of 1929 Geneva Conventions to civilians of enemy nationality who were on the territory of a party to the conflict and had been arrested only because of their nationality.


The ICRC wins the Nobel Peace Prize for the second time.

1948 (May 8)

The first celebration of the World Red Cross and Red Crescent Day.


Four Geneva Conventions are adopted, covering the wounded in land warfare, the wounded and shipwrecked at sea, prisoners of war, and civilians in enemy or occupied territory. The four Conventions contain a common Article 3 relating to the protection of victims of non-international armed conflicts .


The Prisoner of War Agency is renamed the Central Tracing Agency and becomes a permanent unit of the ICRC.


At the time of the 100 anniversary of the first Geneva Convention, the ICRC and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies win Nobel Peace Prize


Proclamation of Fundamental Principles of the Red Cross -- Humanity, Impartiality, Neutrality, Independence, Voluntary Service, Unity, Universality (incorporated in 1986 into the Statutes of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement).


A diplomatic conference in Geneva adopted two Protocols giving further protection to civilians in time of war, and to victims and participants in internal conflicts.

- Protection of victims of international armed conflicts (ProtocoI I)
- Protection of victims of non-international armed conflicts (Protocol II)


Conventional weapons treaty. Prohibitions or restrictions on the use of certain conventional weapons.


The International Red Cross is officially renamed the 'International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement'.


League of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies renames as 'International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC)'.


Convention on the prohibition of the development, production, stockpiling and use of chemical weapons and on their destruction.


The ICRC and the IFRC become the observers of the United Nation meeting


Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on their Destruction.

2002 (1 Jul)

International Criminal Court was established in Hague, the Netherlands and has jurisdiction over serious crimes against international humanitarian law.

2005 (8 Dec)

The States party to the Geneva Conventions adopted a protocol additional to the Conventions at a diplomatic conference in Geneva. The Protocol established a new emblem, commonly referred to as the red crystal, alongside the red cross and red crescent.

2006 (20-22 Jun)

The International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent has incorporated the additional emblem of the red crystal as the third protective emblem. The Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS) and the Israeli National Society, Magen David Adom (MDA) joined the Movement.

2006 (Aug)

There are 194 States party to the Geneva Conventions. For the first time in modern history an international treaty has achieved universal acceptance.

2007 (14 Jan)

The Third Additional Protocol to the 1949 Geneva Conventions enters into force.  The red crystal has the same status under international law as the red cross and red crescent emblems.

2011 (23 Nov)

The Maldivian Red Crescent became the 187th member of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).

2012 (Feb)

The International Committee of the Red Cross recognized the Cyprus Red Cross Society as the 188th National Society of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement.

2013 (12 Nov)

The Cyprus Red Cross Society and the South Sudan Red Cross became the 188th and 189th members, respectively, of the International Federation or Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).

2015 (4 Dec)

The Tuvalu Red Cross Society became the 190th member of the International Federation or Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).


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