These words are as
relevant today as when they were written in 1862 by Henry
Dunant, a young Swiss businessman. On the battlefields of
Solferino 150 years ago, Dunant took action and moved quickly
to organize civilians to help thousands of unassisted wounded
soldiers. It was there that Dunant had the inspiration that
ultimately formed the world’s
largest humanitarian organization — the International
Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement with nearly 100 million
staff and volunteers.
In 2009, the ‘Our world. Your move.’ campaign
will commemorate the 150th anniversary of the battle of Solferino
and the founding ideal of the spirit of volunteerism, the
90th anniversary of the founding of the International Federation
and the 60th anniversary of the Geneva Conventions, which
give protection to the most vulnerable people in times of
Through this global campaign, the ICRC, the International
Federation and 186 Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies are
honouring these milestones by highlighting the power of individuals
to make a difference.
The ‘Our world. Your move.’ Campaign
is a call to action — urging people everywhere to address
the humanitarian challenges facing their communities and
beyond, to reach out, make a move and better their world.
The legacy of the battle of Solferino and Henry Dunant is
that each person can make a difference in big and small ways.
Undoubtedly, the world is a messy place. We face unprecedented
challenges, ranging from conflict and mass displacement to
climate change, natural disasters and a global financial
crisis. This campaign does not look away from the realities
of a world in unrest but highlights a message of hope. Every
person who engages in the call for a better world has the
power to make a difference.
The ICRC will focus on armed conflict and situations of
armed violence. Eight countries, considered to be today’s ‘Solferinos’,
will be featured in the campaign to illustrate pressing humanitarian
issues related to armed conflict such as displacement, separated
families and the deliberate targeting of civilians. Featured
contexts will be Afghanistan, Colombia, the Democratic Republic
of the Congo, Georgia, Haiti, Lebanon, Liberia and the Philippines.
The International Federation will focus on a culture of prevention
and what people are doing in communities around the world
to help save lives by reducing the impact of disasters, climate
change, food insecurity and public health emergencies.
In 2009, we are speaking with one voice and one message — each
of us has the power to make the world a better place and,
working together, we can “help the good work forward”,
just as Dunant did 150 years ago.
1859: the battle of
On 24 June, Henry Dunant, a citizen of Geneva,
Switzerland, was travelling to meet Napoleon the third
on personal business. Near the small town of Solferino
in northern Italy, Franco-Sardinian forces were clashing
with Austrian troops during the War of Italian Unification.
Dunant arrived at the village of Castiglione later
that evening, where more than 9,000 wounded soldiers
had taken refuge in the main church, the Chiesa Maggiore.
He was shocked to see thousands lying injured without
any care. He then mobilized local women and together
they worked for several days and nights washing and
dressing their wounds, and handing out tobacco, tea
On his return to Geneva, Dunant could not forget what
he had seen. In 1862, he published A Memory of
Solferino. The book contains two major ideas:
- Set up relief committees in times of peace to train
volunteers who would treat the wounded in times of
war. This led to the creation of today’s 186
National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.
- Draw up an international agreement to recognize
and protect these committees, forming the basis of
international humanitarian law.
The League of Red
Societies is formed
The idea of pooling
the skills and resources of Red Cross Societies for
humanitarian assistance in peacetime goes back to
Henry Dunant himself who wrote in 1862: “These
Societies could also render great services, by their permanent existence, in
times of epidemics, or of disasters such as floods, fires or other natural catastrophes”.
Later, Henry Davison, president of the American Red
Cross War Committee, proposed forming a federation
of the Red Cross Societies of the victorious nations
to bring humanitarian assistance to the millions of
people stricken by famine and disease in the aftermath
of the First World War.
On 1 April 1919, more than 70 of the world’s
leading scientists, doctors and nurses gathered in
France. They unanimously endorsed forming “a
central organization which shall stimulate and co-ordinate
the voluntary efforts of the peoples of the world through
their respective Red Cross Societies” to bring
essential medical and other aid to people in need.
On 5 May 1919 in Paris, the governors of the Red Cross
Societies of Britain, France, Italy, Japan and the
United States signed the Articles of Association to
create the League of Red Cross Societies. The League
sent its first operational mission to Poland in August
1919, to help a country devastated by hunger and typhus.
In 1991, the League of Red Cross Societies was renamed
the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent
Societies (International Federation).
1949: the Geneva Conventions
further expanded and revised
one of the most significant dates in the history
of the Movement and a decisive breakthrough in the
development of international humanitarian law. Experience
during the Second World War made a major revision
of international humanitarian law a priority after
The First Convention aims to protect the wounded and
sick in armed forces in the field; it represents the
fourth version of the Geneva Convention on wounded
and sick after those adopted in 1864, 1906 and 1929.
The Second Convention aims to protect the wounded,
sick and shipwrecked members of armed forces at sea,
a revision and development of the 1906 Geneva Convention
and 1907 Hague Convention. The Third Convention aims
to protect prisoners of war, a revision and development
of the 1907 Hague Regulations and 1929 Geneva Convention
relative to the protection of prisoners of war. The
Fourth Convention aims to protect civilians. In addition,
the four Conventions contain a common article relating
to the protection of victims of non-international armed
Adopted on 8 June 1977, Protocols I and II are international
treaties that supplement the Geneva Conventions of
1949. They significantly improve the legal protection
of victims of armed conflicts, and — for the
first time — lay down detailed humanitarian rules
that apply in non international armed conflict. In
2005, a third Additional Protocol established an additional
emblem, the red crystal, having the same status as
the existing red cross and red crescent emblems.
Key dates in 2009
25 March – Launch of the www.ourworld-yourmove.org global
campaign web portal. Tell the world the simple ways
that you help to move the world.
5 May – 90th anniversary of
the International Federation.
8 May – World
Red Cross Red Crescent Day and global
launch of the ‘Our world. Your move.’ campaign.
The campaign draws the world’s attention to global
challenges and the role of individual actions.
Two ICRC photo exhibitions will promote the campaign
in Geneva, London, Paris, New York, Nairobi and Beijing.
One entitled Our World – At War focusing
on: Afghanistan, Colombia, the Democratic Republic
of Congo, Georgia, Haiti, Lebanon, Liberia and the
Philippines. The second, Humanity in War will
be a retrospective and will feature images from the
ICRC photo archives going back some 150 years.
24 June – 2 July – 150th
anniversary of the battle of Solferino will commemorate
the spirit of volunteerism.
In Solferino, Italy, "Youth on the move",
the third world Red Cross Red Crescent youth meeting
will discuss current and emerging humanitarian challenges.
They will develop a call to action to be presented
to representatives of the international community in
Geneva, as well as the leaders of the Movement. Youth,
volunteers and visitors from around the world will
also walk in a candlelight procession, following the
footsteps of volunteers who transported the wounded
over 10km from the 1859 Solferino battlefield to a
first aid post.
12 August – 60th anniversary
of the Geneva conventions
23-25 November – General
Assembly / Council of Delegates in Nairobi
5 December – International
Indonesian Red Cross Society volunteer
Despite having experienced profound tragedy, Red
Cross volunteer Nuraini is determined to help others.
After losing four children, 11 grandchildren and her
home to the 2004 tsunami, Nuraini, 72, and her husband
used their pension to build a kindergarten in Merduati
village, Banda Aceh. “Children should begin their education
early, which is why we started this kindergarten,” she
says. Nuraini also teaches cooking and handicrafts
to women as a community facilitator for a Red Cross
psychological support programme. “It is important
to share your knowledge and skills with others, so
that they can grow and learn too,” says Nuraini,
adding that many women use these new skills to earn
additional income for their families. Nuraini is one
of 1,260 volunteers helping their communities to recover
from the tsunami. The volunteers identify psychosocial
needs in their communities, and design and implement
activities to meet them. Facilitators are trained in
planning and technical skills, such as psychosocial
first aid, to help them carry out their roles.
Red Crescent Society of the Islamic Republic
of Iran volunteer
More than five years after the Bam earthquake, Abbes
Sedri still has times when he cannot grasp how in a
few seconds the life of an entire city could change
so dramatically — how 26,000 people could perish,
how a city could be reduced to a pile of rubble. Abbes
never complains about his fate. He did not have to
bury his own children, like so many others. But countless
relatives, friends and neighbours are gone forever.
Abbes came to the Red Crescent after the earthquake. “I
helped to distribute tents and food. When something
so terrible happens, you have to pull together. The
26 December 2003 showed me how important it is to be
prepared for such a disaster. This is why the Red Crescent
teaches classes for young people in schools,” he
says. “I started five years ago as a volunteer.
Now I am a trainer.” On his way home each day,
Abbes passes gigantic warehouses, where tonnes of relief
supplies are stored for future emergencies. “Before
the earthquake we had 400 square metres of storage
space. Now we have 7,000 square metres. We have learned
a great deal from the earthquake; it has changed our
lives in many ways.”
Milad Samir Salameh
Palestinian Children and Youth Institute
“I am a nurse. In 2007, when the fighting began
in Nahr el Bared refugee camp between the Islamist
group Fatah al Islam and the Lebanese army, I decided
to stay to help. After seven days, there were only
three doctors and two nurses remaining, including me.
I set up a team of first aiders with some friends and
youth. I taught them how to use firstaid kits and dress
wounds. I remember that many people were killed or
injured, at times in front of my eyes. One day, a rocket
exploded in front of a clinic just after I passed the
main door. Two people bled to death and seven were
injured. One man who died had just told me he was bringing
candles and water for his family who had sought protection
in the clinic. A few nights later, Fatah al Islam fighters
asked me to come to a house where a woman was in labour.
Her husband had been shot a few days before. I knew
what to do, but the baby was facing the wrong way.
I called a doctor living outside the camp and he helped
me. After two hours of labour, at 4.15 am, a little
girl was born. I was happy.”
Philippines National Red Cross volunteer
Jonathan Ponferrado had no way of knowing that by
becoming a volunteer he would save his father’s life.
In 2003, Jonathan’s employer offered him additional
responsibilities and pay if he learned first aid. “At
first, I thought it would be a good way to earn a bit
more money at my job,” he says. “While
I was doing my Red Cross first-aid training, my father
became very ill and needed a blood transfusion. I learned
that the chapter had a blood bank and a match for my
father. I owe my Dad’s life to the Red Cross.” Six
years later, Jonathan is the Valenzuela chapter Red
Cross youth coordinator. He helped produce the chapter’s
musical production of “The Battle of Solferino”.
He believes that, 150 years after the battle, Dunant’s
legacy lives on in youth volunteers. “I tell
them one person can make a difference. If no one strikes
the match, the fire won’t start. All you need
is one spark. I don’t know who gave the blood
that saved my father’s life, but one simple act
made a huge difference to him and me. That’s
what inspires me to keep giving back.”
Cameroon Red Cross Society volunteer
“There is a true spirit of solidarity within the Red Cross Red Crescent
Movement, which I have personally experienced through the kindness of other
staff and volunteers,” says Françoise Désirée, who
has volunteered with the Red Cross for six years as a first-aid trainer and
HIV peer educator, focusing on people with multiple sex partners. “My
main mission is to open a dialogue with these highly vulnerable groups for
HIV infection by providing them with counselling, psychological support and
inviting them to change their behaviour by explaining the dangers of AIDS.
Thanks to the skills I have acquired, I can really make a difference within
my community.” One young woman with HIV who came to the Red Cross office
stands out especially to Françoise. She felt rejected by her family
and friends. Françoise asked her to join the HIV project. “She
is now one of the most active peer educators we have in Yaoundé.
She has overcome stigma because of her HIV-positive
status and now she is helping others to live positively
Afghanistan Red Crescent Society volunteer
Anisa, 58, a mother of nine, is head nurse of the
reanimation ward in Jalalabad’s Public Health Hospital Number
One. During the three decades of war Afghanistan has
endured, she has gained extensive experience organizing
vaccination campaigns, working in operating theatres
and with paraplegics and receiving training on HIV.
Anisa has faced rocket fire, aerial bombardments and
insurgent attacks. When Taliban fighters took over
the hospital, her superior told her to stay at home.
She refused. “If the Taliban or anyone else is
in the hospital,” she said, “I will still
come to help patients.” One of Anisa’s
enduring memories is linked to a patient who was a
detainee. “Nobody was allowed to go near him.
I was the only one given permission to look after him
and bring him his food.” Even today, in Afghanistan,
it is highly unusual for a male patient to be looked
after by a female nurse. Following his release, the
man became a high-ranking soldier and returned to the
hospital one day to thank Anisa. “He brought
me some flour,” Anisa recalls. Recently the Red
Crescent nominated her for the Florence Nightingale
Medal —presented every two years by the ICRC
for ‘exceptional courage and devotion to the
wounded, sick or disabled, or to civilian victims of
conflict or disaster’.
Haitian National Red Cross Society volunteer
“My job consists of evacuating people from Cité Soleil
to medical facilities where their illnesses or wounds
will be treated appropriately. In July 2006, just a
few metres from our Red Cross office, I was caught
in a gun battle between United Nations soldiers and
gang members. I was shot in the mouth and I was bleeding
a lot. I managed to drag a UN officer to our office
but then I lost consciousness. I’ve undergone
six major operations. I am paralysed down one side
of my face and I speak with great difficulty. People
look at me in a weird way sometimes. I don’t
really care. I am here to evacuate people from Cité Soleil
and I will continue to do so. It is true that working
here is much less dangerous than when I was shot, but
you never know, the violent times can come again. People
are angry and discontented. They have little to eat
and nothing to do. Some people have always used the
poor living in the shanty towns to stir up discontent
for their own political ends. I fear that there will
always be work for the Red Cross teams here.”
Sierra Leone Red Cross Society volunteer
For more than a decade, Japwepwe Macarthy, 31, has
been a dedicated Red Cross volunteer in rural Moyamba
district, where he supports six out of 12 chiefdoms
in HIV and malaria prevention. “I want to assist
my country and help my neighbours,” says Japwepwe. “Serving
my people makes me happy and proud, knowing that I
helped save a life by convincing someone to change
their behaviour.” Japwepwe is one of more than
4,000 Sierra Leone Red Cross volunteers who have handed
out some 875,000 mosquito nets to families at 900 distribution
points throughout the country. Their efforts helped
reduce distribution costs and made sure families were
trained on how to hang and use the net to prevent malaria.
After the net distributions, Japwepwe and other volunteers
went from house to house across the district undertaking “Hang
Up” activities, to ensure families continued
to correctly use their new net. “If the bed nets
are not properly hung, mosquitoes will continue to
bite, children will continue to die from malaria and
this initiative would have been in vain,” says
Japwepwe. “These visits are an important part
of protecting children from malaria.”
The battle of Solferino.
A Memory of Solferino written by Henry Dunant is published.
The founding of the ICRC.
The red crescent emblem is used for the first time.
Henry Dunant is awarded the first Nobel Peace Prize.
During the First World War, the Red Cross operates on a larger
scale than ever before.
The League of Red Cross Societies, later known in 1991 as
the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent
Societies, is formed.
Geneva Conventions are expanded.
1917 and 1944
ICRC wins Nobel Peace Prizes for its humanitarian action
during the two World Wars.
The Geneva Conventions are further expanded and revised.
Worldwide plan launched to foster and strengthen new National
ICRC and International Federation win Nobel Peace Prize for
the Movement's 100th anniversary.
Proclamation of the Fundamental Principles of the Red Cross.
Additional Protocols to the 1949 Geneva Conventions.
ICRC and International Federation have observer status at
the United Nations General Assembly.
Movement global campaign to ban anti-personnel mines.
The International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent
adopts the red crystal emblem.
150th anniversary of the battle of Solferino, 90th anniversary
of the International Federation, 60th anniversary of Geneva
Conventions and launch of the ‘Our world. Your move.’ global
This campaign is supported by www.ourworld-yourmove.org,
a unique web portal that serves as a gateway for
the public to explore the world of the Red Cross
and Red Crescent – the challenges we face,
the work we do and the people we help.
It also offers an interactive platform for people
to tell their stories and show their commitment to
humanity. The campaign web portal provides a way for
the public to get involved, make a move and make a
difference in the world.
A highlight of what you will find on www.ourworld-yourmove.org includes:
WEB PORTAL INTRODUCTION PAGE IMAGE
Each time you click on a challenge, you are making
your move to make the world a better place.
What challenges facing the world today are most important
to you? From women and war to health and care, you
can find out more information about these and other
challenges, and discover what move you can make.
HOW YOU MOVE THE WORLD
What are the simple ways that you help make a difference?
You can inspire others by telling the world what
actions you have made in your daily life to help
improve the world around you.
FIND THE RED CROSS RED CRESCENT CLOSEST TO
You can link your everyday move to the world’s
largest humanitarian organization. Find out more about
the activities of the local Red Cross of Red Crescent
Society in your area and how you can get involved.
FUN WAYS TO MAKE YOUR MOVE: It is
easy for you to tell others about the ‘Our world.
Your move.’ campaign through web banners, iPhone
applications, email signatures, games and videos.