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A timeline of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement

1859

Franco-Sardinian and Austrian troops clash in Battle of Solferino, near northern Italian town of Castiglione della Pieve. Swiss businessman Henry Dunant, horrified by the slaughter, helps to care for the wounded of both sides. This battle leads, ultimately, to formation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement.

1863

International Committee formed for relief of military wounded (members Henry Dunant, Gustave Moynier, Louis Appia, Theodore Maunoir and Guillaume-Henri Dufour) . In 1876, committee becomes International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

 

International Geneva Conference. Adoption of the Red Cross on white background (reverse of Swiss flag) as protective emblem and establishment of national committees for the relief of military wounded.

1864

Twelve states sign 10 articles forming the 1st Geneva Convention -- protection of international law both to wounded enemy soldiers and those caring for them.

1867

First International Conference of the Red Cross, attended by nine governments, 16 National Committees and the International Committee. Subsequent conferences to turn of century held in Berlin (1869), Geneva (1884), Karlsruhe (1887), Rome (1892) and Vienna (1897).

1899

Hague Conventions

  • Laws and customs of war on land (Convention No. II)
  • Adaptation to maritime warfare of the principles of the 1864 Geneva Convention (Convention No. III)

1901

Henry Dunant awarded Nobel Peace Prize.

1906

Revision and development of 1864 Geneva Convention.

1907

Hague Conventions

  • Laws and customs of war on land (Convention No. IV)
  • Adaptation to maritime warfare of the principles of the 1906 Geneva Convention (Convention No. X)

1910

Henry Dunant dies.

1914-18

During World War One, Red Cross operates on a bigger scale than before. ICRC delegates visit prisoners of war and call for improvements in conditions of detention. Two million individual parcels sent to prisoners. Around 120,000 people seek out ICRC for information on captured missing military personnel. War reveals urgent need to protect civilian internees.

1917

ICRC wins Nobel Peace Prize

1919

League of Red Cross Societies formed in aftermath of World War One. Becomes League of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies from 1983 and, from 1991, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

1925

Geneva Protocol - Prohibition of the use in war of asphyxiating, poisonous or other gases, and of bacteriological methods of warfare.

1928

Statutes of International Red Cross (revised in 1952 and 1986) adopted.

Recognition of respective mandates of the ICRC and League, and creation of an International Council - predecessor of today's Standing Commission.

1929

Geneva Conventions

  • Wounded and sick in armed forces in the field [revision of the 1906 Geneva Convention] (1st Convention)
  • Prisoners of war [supplements the 1899 Hague Convention No.II and 1907 Hague Convention No.IV] (2nd Convention)
  • Official recognition of the Red Crescent emblem (first used in 1876)

1939

League of Red Cross Societies moves headquarters from Paris to Geneva at outbreak of World War Two

1939-45

World War Two puts the Red Cross to tough test. At the outset, the ICRC got all parties to the conflict to extend provisions of 1929 Geneva Conventions to civilians of enemy nationality who were on the territory of a party to the conflict and had been arrested only because of their nationality. This was the case for French citizens living in France who were interned when war was declared. This protection was not extended to civilians of enemy nationality on occupied territory, such as Poland. Thus, people in Nazi concentration camps remained without protection.

1944

ICRC wins Nobel Peace Prize

1949

Geneva Conventions

  • The wounded and sick in armed forces in the field [revision and development of the 1929 Geneva Convention] (First Convention)
  • Wounded, sick and shipwrecked members of armed forces at sea [revision and development of the 1907 Hague Convention No. X] (Second Convention)
  • Prisoners of war [revision and development of the 1929 Geneva Convention] (Third Convention)
  • Civilian persons [supplements the 1899 Hague Convention No.II and 1907 Hague Convention No. IV] (Fourth Convention)
  • The four Conventions contain a common Article 3 relating to the protection of victims of non-international armed conflicts

1952

Revision of the Statutes of the International Red Cross.

1956

Draft rules for protection of civilian populations from indiscriminate warfare communicated to governments and National Societies ahead of discussion at International Conference of the Red Cross in New Delhi in 1957

1960

Start of decade of rapid increase in number of National Societies in the Red Cross Movement to more than 100 following new-found independence of many former colonies in Africa and Asia. Shift in global politics also involves League in series of man-made disasters, and hundreds of thousands of refugees, from wars in Vietnam, Congo and elsewhere.

1963

League launches mass development programme, involving countries recently-independent or about to gain independence, in the Caribbean and Africa.

ICRC and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies win Nobel Peace Prize

1965

Proclamation of Fundamental Principles of the Red Cross -- humanity, impartiality, neutrality, independence, voluntary service, unity, universality (incorporated in 1986 into the Statutes of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement).

1971

Movement meeting in Mexico City considers issues of "Red Cross in a Changing World", with emphasis on "presentation" and a "united front".

1972

Donald Tansley, executive vice-president of the Canadian International Development Agency, appointed to lead study into future role and other aspects of the Red Cross.

1975

"Tansley Report" published, meets mixed reaction. Report defines basic role of Red Cross as "provision of emergency help, on an unconditional and impartial basis, whenever and wherever human needs for protection and assistance exist because of natural disaster and conflict".

1975

First World Red Cross Conference on Peace in Belgrade, Yugoslavia. Produces action programme but, in Bucharest in 1977, Red Cross. s Council of Delegates fails to reach agreement on it.

1976

Convention on protection of the environment. Prohibition of military or any other hostile use of environmental modification techniques.

1977

International Conference in Bucharest, Romania, considers "Tansley Report", with ICRC President Eric Martin calling it a "pitiless inquisition" and remaining cool about proposal for joint services with the League. Proposals on Red Cross becoming "lead agency" on disaster relief, on an evaluation of operations and on an International Relief Convention fade away. Conference proposes process of constant reappraisal within the Movement.

Protocols additional to 1949 Geneva Conventions

  • Protection of victims of international armed conflicts (ProtocoI I)
  • Protection of victims of non-international armed conflicts (Protocol II)

1980

Conventional weapons treaty. Prohibitions or restrictions on the use of certain conventional weapons.

1981

Respect for International Humanitarian Law (IHL) emerges as a central theme for Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement.

1983

League President Enrique de la Mata, putting human rights firmly on agenda, says League represents "efforts of those working for peace, not only by halting the evils of war or disaster, but by doing all they can to prevent war through the promotion of international comprehension and understanding and defence of justice and dignity".

1984

Second World Red Cross Conference on Peace, in Aaland, Sweden. Attended by ICRC, League and National Societies. Meeting, with East-West tensions, ends with call to "make peace all over the world a reality".

1986

Adoption of statutes of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement.

1989

Agreement between the ICRC and the League and establishment of study group on the future of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement.

Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Decision to change, in 1991, League of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies to become International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

1991

Council of Delegates adopts guidelines for the dissemination of International Humanitarian Law and of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement's principles and ideals.

1993

Convention on the prohibition of the development, production, stockpiling and use of chemical weapons and on their destruction.

1994

San Remo Manual on International Law Applicable to Armed Conflicts at Sea.

1995

Report on turning International Humanitarian Law into positive action.

Protocol on Blinding Laser Weapons (Protocol IV).

1996

Protocol on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Mines, Booby-Traps and Other Devices (Protocol II).

1997

Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on their Destruction.

Agreement on the Organisation of the International Activities of the Components of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement.

  Last Updated: 2 September 1999