Our Principles, our Move

The most varied points of view in philosophy, religion and human experience enable man to understand the idea of the Red Cross, the moral principle it embodies and the action it demands” (Max Huber in Jean Pictet The Fundamental Principles of the Red Cross: commentary, 1979)

The Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement proclaimed 50 years ago the 7 Fundamental Principles: Humanity, Impartiality, Neutrality, Independence, Voluntary service, Unity and Universality. They move us. They guide us. They identify us as a community in response to people suffering and their needs. Jean Pictet, in its Commentary to the Fundamentals Principles cited Max Huber, ICRC president from 1928 to 1944, when he recalled “the Red Cross was not based upon an abstract idea but was created on a battlefield, amidst the distress which was an immediate and present fact, by men and women who set to work”.

Henry Dunant, in A Memory of Solferino, remembered the efforts of the citizens to help the injured from both sides. He witnessed the horror and the suffering during the Solferino battle between the Austrians and the French in 1859 and decided to help as better as he could. Dunant recalled the assistance, the selflessness and the humanity shown to relief the needs of the wounded soldiers. The feelings brought the action.

Henry Dunant also realized the scarcity in relief response. More could be done. As he wrote “there was never a war in any century where such goodwill was shown and such fine charitable spirit displayed. Yet the sacrifices made, generous and remarkable as they were, were altogether inadequate, and bore no proportion to the extent of the needs. All that was done, moreover, was done for the wounded of the Allied Army, and nothing for the poor Austrians”. Because of that, he envisioned a voluntary organization of prepared men and women ready to act whenever a war broke out.

Therefore, the feelings move us to act, and from the actions we extract the Fundamental Principles of the Movement. “In practice, we cannot always take them literally. But although their value may be relative, it is nevertheless very great, for it shows the ideal that we must continue to approach” (Jean Pictet, The Fundamental Principles of the Red Cross: commentary, 1979).

  • Humanity
  • Impartiality
  • Neutrality
  • Voluntary Service
  • Independence
  • Unity
  • Universality