Red Cross Celebrates 150 Years

Author National Philanthropic Trust

February 17, 2013

 One hundred fifty years ago today, the International Committee for the Relief of Military Wounded was founded in Geneva, Switzerland. Today, it is known as the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and is the largest humanitarian network in the world.

The ICRC persuaded governments to adopt the first Geneva Convention in 1864, which outlined care for soldiers on the battlefield. It also designated a common emblem–a red cross on a white background–as the symbol for medical services, a symbol still in use and commonly recognized around the world.

Since 1863, the ICRC has worked on the edge of battlefields to care for wounded soldiers and civilians and on the edge of government to promote and strengthen international humanitarian laws. Today, they help reunite families separated by conflict or disaster, visit prisoners of war and other detainees, and improve the lives and health of civilians negatively affected by armed conflict.

The reach of the ICRC is so broad that there are Red Cross and Red Crescent societies in 187 countries, including the American Red Cross. The red cross of the ICRC and its societies has come to symbolize rebuilding in the face of tragedy.