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Our world. Your move.


"All can, in one way or another, each in his own sphere and within his own limitations, do something to help the good work move forward".

Henry Dunant, A Memory of Solferino.


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 war.

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 Solferino

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 and fruit.

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.

he League of Red Cross 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 are
further expanded and revised

1949 marks 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 1945.

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 conflicts.

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 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 Volunteer Day


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.


Abbes Sedri

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.”

©Franco Pagetti / ICRC / VII

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.”


Jonathan Ponferrado

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.”


Françoise Désirée

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 with HIV.”



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’.

©Ron Haviv / ICRC / VII

Jean Guerlain

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.”


Japwepwe Macarthy
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.”

150 years of
Red Cross
Red Crescent action

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.


©René Liardon / ICRC
1917 and 1944
ICRC wins Nobel Peace Prizes for its humanitarian action during the two World Wars.


©J. Cadoux / ICRC

The Geneva Conventions are further expanded and revised.


©Polish Red Cross
Worldwide plan launched to foster and strengthen new National Societies.


©Heinz Englelhardt

ICRC and International Federation win Nobel Peace Prize for the Movement's 100th anniversary.



Proclamation of the Fundamental Principles of the Red Cross.


©Gérard LeBlanc / ICRC
Additional Protocols to the 1949 Geneva Conventions.


©A. Hollmann / ICRC

ICRC and International Federation have observer status at the United Nations General Assembly.


©Victoria Ivleva-Yorke / ICRC

 Movement global campaign to ban anti-personnel mines.


©eva-Yorke / ICRC

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 campaign.

This campaign is supported by, 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 includes:

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.

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.

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.



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