accessibility & help

Red Cross celebrates 90 years of the spirit of humanity

1 May 2009

Nicholas Sarkozy, president of the French Republic, is hosting an event on 4 May to mark the 90th anniversary of the founding of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

Man in suit smilingJonathan Banks/BRCBritish Red Cross chairman and Federation governing board member James Cochrane is attending the event, which takes place in Paris. He said: “This is an opportunity to remind global political leaders of the importance of the founding principles of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement.

“We urge them to pledge their continuing support for today’s pressing humanitarian challenges, from the impact of climate change and natural disasters to armed conflicts and other situations of violence. We also want to celebrate the power of individuals to make a difference in the lives of others, 90 years on from the founding of the Federation.”

Anniversary celebrations

The event includes an address by Mr Sarkozy and Mr Juan Manuel Suárez del Toro Rivero, president of the Federation, at the Elysee Palace, followed by a panel discussion and debate about today’s humanitarian challenges at the Paris Mariott Rive Gauche hotel.

It was an historic decision taken in 1919, initiated by the American Red Cross and supported by the Red Cross Societies of France, Italy, Japan and the UK, that established the League of Red Cross Societies in the spirit of humanitarian solidarity and in the service of those in need in time of peace or war.

This League became the Federation which today comprises 186 National Societies and assists tens of millions of people every year. Driven by the spirit of humanity, our unique organisation does everything in its power to come to the aid and protect the human dignity of individuals and communities in need, particularly those facing extreme vulnerability.

Our World, Your Move

At the end of March, the Red Cross launched the Our World, Your Move campaign which is built on three anniversaries in 2009. In addition to the 90th anniversary of the Federation on 5 May, this year, we celebrate the 150th anniversary of the idea that led to the creation of the world’s largest humanitarian network and the 60th anniversary of the ratification of the Geneva Conventions.

The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement was born just after the Battle of Solferino, fought on 24 June 1859 in the north of Italy. Geneva businessman Henry Dunant was horrified at the pain endured by tens of thousands of wounded soldiers. In response, he mobilised the inhabitants of Castiglione to care for the wounded and dying. In his book, A Memory of Solferino, he proposes the idea of forming  relief societies to treat those wounded in conflict. Shortly afterwards, the International Committee of the Red Cross and the first Red Cross National Societies were established.

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