The Red Cross
When Jean Henri Dunant published the Un Souvenir de Solférino in 1862 about the sufferings the wounded at the battle of Solférino fought in 1859, it spurred the creation of the Red Cross. In the publication, Dunant also highlighted the need for the creation of voluntary aid societies that would offer relief to war victims. The societies would be neutral thus offering aid services to the sick and wounded out in battle.
Formation Of The Movement
Dunant’s suggestion was applauded and seconded by the Société genovoise d’Utilité publique, a Swiss welfare agency. This led to the creation of an aid organization that would grow to be know globally as the Red Cross. In 1864, a 16-delegate meeting was held in Geneva, Switzerland, which would be known as the Geneva Convention. An accord was reached, agreed to and signed by 12 of the 16 nations who attended. The accord was the Amelioration of the Condition of the Wounded and Sick of Armies in the Field.
In the accord, the movement was to exercise impartiality having no decimation to religion, race, class, political opinion, or nationality. Furthermore, it was agreed that medical personnel of armed forces would be neutral. In addition, those who volunteered to offer assistance in the Red cross be accorded the same neutrality and they were to have uniforms and supplies marked with international Red Cross Emblem. It also was agreed that aid and treatment of the sick and wounded be done in the utmost humane manner.
The Movement’s Official Emblems
The Red Cross emblem was a red cross on a white background. It was chosen in honor of Dunant and in reference to his nationality – the colors of the Swiss flag – but the colors were reversed for the emblem. While formulated to have and exercise neutrality, some nations had reservations about the Red Cross because they believed that the emblem held some religious connotations. As such, the formation of the Red Crescent was established so that aid would be offered in Islamic states.
The first use of the Red Crescent was used in the armed conflict between Russia and the Ottoman Empire fought in 1876-1878. However, the symbol was adopted in 1929. Just like the Red Cross, the Red Crescent emblem was designed in honor of the Ottoman Empire without the star and the colors reversed.
In 2005, a third official emblem was adopted by the ICRC. It was in response to mounting pressure by Israel for the recognition and acceptance of MDA as a full member of the ICRC. MDA (Magen David Adom) is the national emergency medical, disaster, ambulance and blood bank service of Israel. The adoption was after a modification was done on the Geneva Conventions also known Protocol III. The MDA would use the Red Crystal as the recognized emblem for the movement, which took effect in 2007. The Red Crystal would be the official neutral emblem used by any national society that felt that the Red Cross and Red Crescent emblem held some religious connotations of Christianity and Islam, respectively.