accessibility & help

The seven fundamental principles

Boy next to car with Red Cross emblem reflected in mirror© InfoAs a member of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement the British Red Cross is committed to, and bound by, its fundamental principles.

Proclaimed in Vienna in 1965, the seven fundamental principles bind together the:

  • National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies
  • International Committee of the Red Cross
  • International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

They guarantee the consistency of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and its humanitarian work.

The seven fundamental principles are:


The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, born of a desire to bring assistance without discrimination to the wounded on the battlefield, endeavours, in its international and national capacity, to prevent and alleviate human suffering wherever it may be found. It promotes mutual understanding, friendship, co-operation and lasting peace amongst all peoples.


It makes no discrimination as to nationality, race, religious beliefs, class or political opinions. It endeavours to relieve the suffering of individuals, being guided solely by their needs, and to give priority to the most urgent cases of distress.


In order to continue to enjoy the confidence of all, the Movement may not take sides in hostilities or engage at any time in controversies of a political, racial, religious or ideological nature.


The Movement is independent. The National Societies, whilst auxiliaries in the humanitarian services of their governments and subject to laws of their respective countries, must always maintain their autonomy so that they may be able at all times to act in accordance with the principles of the Movement.

Voluntary service

It is a voluntary relief movement not prompted in any manner by desire for gain.


There can only be one Red Cross or Red Crescent Society in any one country. It must be open to all. It must carry on its humanitarian work throughout its territory.


The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, in which all Societies have equal status and share equal responsibilities and duties in helping each other, is worldwide.

The British Red Cross promotes and communicates the fundamental principles in the UK and overseas. This includes projects aimed at young people in schools and universities in the UK.

We also have a ‘Principles in Action’ project which explores how the fundamental principles help National Societies across the world gain access to, and help, people in need.