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  • 10/24/2004

The Foundation of Red Cross Society

October 24

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) works around the world on a strictly neutral and impartial basis to protect and assist people affected by armed conflicts and internal disturbances. It is a humanitarian organization with its headquarters in Geneva, mandated by the international community to be the guardian of international humanitarian law, and is the founding body of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement.

While the ICRC maintains a constant dialogue with States, it insists at all times on its independence.Only if it is free to act independently of any government or other authority can the ICRC serve the interests of victims of conflict, which lie at the heart of its humanitarian mission.


On 24 June 1859, during the War of Italian Unification, Franco-Sardinian forces clashed with Austrian troops near the small town of Solferino in northernItaly. On that day, a citizen of Geneva, Switzerland,Henry Dunant , was travelling to the area to meet Napoleon III on personal matters. On the evening of the battle, Dunant arrived in thevillage of Castiglione, where more than 9,000 wounded had taken refuge. In the main church, the Chiesa Maggiore, where thousands were lying unattended, Dunant and the local women strove for several days and nights to give them water wash and dress their wounds and hand out tobacco, tea and fruit.

Dunant remained in Castiglione until 27 June and then set out again, returning toGeneva on 11 July. He was beset by financial difficulties, but could not forget what he had seen, and in 1862 he published a work entitledA Memory of Solferino. In it he described the battle and the wounded of the Chiesa Maggiore, concluding with a question:

"Would it not be possible, in time of peace and quiet, to form relief societies for the purpose of having care given to the wounded in wartime by zealous, devoted and thoroughly qualified volunteers?" It was this question that led to the founding of the Red Cross. He also asked the military authorities of various countries whether they could formulate "(...) some international principle, sanctioned by a convention and inviolate in character, which, once agreed upon and ratified, might constitute the basis for societies for the relief of the wounded in the different European countries?" This second question was the basis forThe Geneva Conventions.

Jean-Henry Dunat

Iranian Red Crescent history

Red Crescent Society of the Islamic Republic of Iran (IRCS), formerly known as the Red Lion and Sun, was formed in 1923 and recognized by the International Committee of Red Cross in the same year. It was in 1927 when the Society joined the League of Red Cross, now known as the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. In 1980, Islamic Republic of Iran decided to give up the Red Lion and Sun and used Red Crescent in its place.

From the very beginning, the Society has been participating in many public activities namely building hospitals, setting up free clinics, supplying water, constructing graveled roads, opening centers for children and youths, establishing nursery schools, rendering relief services to the beneficiaries and providing them with social welfare, manufacturing as well as distributing medicines and hygienic products, and rendering orthopedics services throughout her centers all over the country.

Iranian Red Crescent Society (IRCS) is a member of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies that comprises the world’s largest humanitarian network of 178 National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. The IRCS’s readiness does extent to peace times as well, the way that the Society always keeps her responsiveness and sensitiveness towards vulnerability both in the scale of international and national levels.

Now several IRCS clinics and medical centers are actively rendering medical services inGhana, Mali, Niger, Kenya, United Arab Emirates,Bosnia, Azerbaijan and Yemen. From the outset of disasters and even during peace times, IRCS actively participate in response to meet the right needs of the right persons at the right time. She does a number of activities, of which the major ones are:

- Strengthening cooperation with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and National Committee of Red Cross (ICRC)

- Dissemination of International Humanitarian Law (IH) and presiding over the newly-established Iranian Committee of International Humanitarian Law with its headquarters in the Iranian Red crescent Society.

- Coordinating International Contributions at times of disasters.

- Tracing missing persons through establishing international communications with the related bodies.

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