As a Humanitarian Organisation born out of conflict and one that seeks to alleviate human suffering, the Red Cross and the Red Crescent Movement is an International Movement covering 190 countries and owes its origin to the vision and foresight of one man - Sir Jean Henry Dunant, the seed of which he sowed in 1859 at the battle of Solferino in Italy.
With the holding of the first Geneva Convention in 1863, ICRC came into being and is the Movement’s founding body, headquartered in Geneva. It protects and assists victims of war and is also promoter and custodian of International Humanitarian Law. It is the guardian of the Seven Fundamental Principles by which the Movement functions i.e. Humanity, Impartiality, Neutrality, Independence, Voluntary Service, Unity and Universality. In cooperation with the Federation it organises the Movement’s statutory meetings.
Founded in 1919, IFRC directs and coordinates international assistance of the Movement to victims of natural and technological disasters and refugees and in health emergencies. It is also headquartered in Geneva. It acts as the official representative of its member societies in the international field and promotes cooperation between National Societies, strengthening their capacity to prevent disasters and carry out health and social programmes.
National Societies which have emerged at different times, embody the work and principles of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement in about 190 countries today. National Societies act as auxiliaries to the Government of their countries in all humanitarian fields. In wartime, National Societies assist the affected civilian population.
The Indian Red Cross Society has as emblem, the heraldic sign of the Red Cross on a white background i.e. emblem of Red Cross with vertical and horizontal arms of the same length on and the designation Red Cross, which is the reverse of the Swiss flag, in recognition of the founding father of the Movement. The Emblem is the symbol of protection in conflict areas for the workers of Red Cross and misuse of the Emblem by those outside the Movement is forbidden both by the Geneva Convention Act 1961 as well as the Resolutions of 2002 and 2005 issued by the Government of Maharashtra.
The Maharashtra State Branch began in 1925 and has at present 35 District and Sub-District Branches.