History International Red Cross Federation

The history of the birth of the International Red Cross and Crescent Movement is that on June 24, 1859 in the city of Solferino, Northern Italy, French and Italian troops were fighting Austrian troops in a terrible war. On the same day, a young Swiss citizen, Henry Dunant, was there on his way to meet the Emperor of France, Napoleon III. Tens of thousands of soldiers were injured, while military medical assistance was insufficient to treat the 40,000 people who were victims of the fighting.

Thrilled by the suffering of the wounded soldiers, Henry Dunant, in collaboration with the locals, immediately stepped in to mobilize aid to help them. Some time later, after returning to Switzerland, he put those impressions and experiences into a book entitled “Memories of Solferino”, which took the whole of Europe by storm. In his book, Henry Dunant puts forward two ideas:

  • First, to form an international humanitarian organization, which can be prepared for its establishment in times of peace to help wounded soldiers on the battlefield.
  • Second, enter into international agreements to protect wounded soldiers on the battlefield as well as the protection of volunteers and these organizations when providing assistance in times of war.

In 1863, four Genevans joined forces with Henry Dunant to develop the first idea. Together they formed the “International Committee for the assistance of wounded soldiers”, now known as the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

In its later development, to carry out humanitarian activities in each country, a volunteer organization was established whose task was to assist the medical section of the army during war. The organization is now known as the National Red Cross or Red Crescent Societies.

Based on the second idea, in 1864, at the initiative of the Swiss federal government, an International Conference was held which was attended by several countries to agree on the “Convention for the improvement of the condition of soldiers injured on the battlefield”. This convention was later refined and developed into the Geneva Conventions I, II, III and IV of 1949 or also known as the Red Cross Convention. This convention is one component of International Humanitarian Law (HPI), an international provision that regulates the protection and assistance of war victims.