- The World Red Cross and Red Crescent Day is observed every year on 8 May to commemorate the birth anniversary of the founder of this worldwide movement.
- This year the theme is ‘Less known Red Cross Stories’. An online essay and photograph competition is to be held on this occasion.
World Red Cross Day on 8 May is the annual commemoration of the birth
anniversary of Jean-Henry Dunant, the founder of the International Committee of
the Red Cross (ICRC), and the first ever recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize.
World Red Cross and Red Crescent Day and Movement
Besides commemorating Dunant's birth anniversary, the day is also meant to celebrate the seven principles of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. The 1965 Vienna Proclamation of the Fundamental Principles of the Red Cross includes the following points: Humanity, Impartiality, Neutrality, Independence, Voluntary Service, Unity and Universality.
The Red Cross Movement is dedicated to the above mentioned principles. The very existence of the movement is underlined by a fundamentally humanitarian approach. It is also driven by a pledge to remain impartial at times of hostilities, to provide services and relief to conflict and natural catastrophe ravaged victims, survivors, civilians, irrespective of their caste, creed, religion, color and political affiliations. Each of the National Red Cross Societies is autonomous. Their independence gives them the authority to act immediately, and remain committed to the Red Cross principles. Furthermore, the Red Cross acts as a non-profit, voluntary relief organization, and is universally, and globally, united in its presence and duty.
The three pillars of the movement are the International Committee of the Red Cross, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, and the National Red Cross Societies, while the red cross, and the red crescent, against a white background, are its emblems in Non-Muslim and Muslim countries respectively.
'Less Known Red Cross Stories'
The 2017 theme for the World Red Cross Day is 'Less Known Red Cross Stories' with the novel perception of bringing to life inspiring stories of humanitarian pursuits across the world, through online essay and photography competitions. The competitions are to be organized by the Indian Red Cross Society, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).
The jointly organized online competitions are free and open to all, except for the Red Cross staff members. The goal is to draw motivational stories and photographs from the public at large. They will be judged by a jury who will give the final verdict.
A Brief History of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)
The history of the ICRC dates back to 1859 when Dunant, a businessman from Geneva, Switzerland, arrived in Solferino, Italy as part of a business trip. His arrival coincided with the Battle of Solferino. Dunant was revolted at the horrific aftermath of the battle which he witnessed first hand. He then took it upon himself to assemble help, bringing together the civilians to aid and assist the wounded.
The seeds of what was to become the worldwide Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement were sowed during that fateful moment when Dunant decided to mobilize help for the wartime soldiers and victims. On his return to Geneva, he published a book called Un Souvenir de Solferino (A Memory of Solferino), describing his experiences. It was here that he put forth the proposal for a neutral organization that would provide supplies and care to victims of war. In 1863, a five-member committee was created by the Geneva Society for Public Welfare of which Dunant was one of the members. The date of their first meeting has since been considered the founding date of the ICRC.
In the Geneva Convention in 1864, the ICRC introduced its emblem -- the red cross against a white background. Over the next 50 years, national societies were established, and the ICRC's role went through several phases from taking care of war prisoners to running ambulances on battlefields, especially during World War I. During World War II, the ICRC expanded its activities, reaching out to the wounded and civilians across the globe. However, this period is also considered one of its greatest failures, due to its lack of endeavor to aid the victims and survivors of the infamous Holocaust.
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC)
In 1919 the League of Red Cross Societies was founded, which was to become the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) in 1991. Currently, the IFRC coordinates between 190 National Red Cross Societies across the globe.
The Indian Red Cross Society (IRCS)
The Indian Red Cross Society was established way back in 1920. Apart from disaster management and community care, the IRCS's activities include:
- Blood Bank Services
It is to celebrate this respect for humanity, and the spirit of unconditional humanitarianism, that the World Red Cross Day is observed.
- International Committe of the RedCross - (https://www.icrc.org/eng/who-we-are/history/overview-section-history-icrc.htm)
- Indian Red Cross Society - (http://www.indianredcross.org/archive.htm)