Humanitarianism and the Red Cross

The activities in this resource support young people to learn about the formation of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement.

Smiling woman walks alongside Red Cross volunteers
Lesson plan, video
Citizenship, History
Humanitarianism and the Red Cross

The British Red Cross is part of an international network. Humanitarianism is at the heart of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. Humanitarianism guides all the Movement does and everything it stands for.

With discussion activities, a written exercise and a short film, learners look at the principles underpinning the humanitarian work of the Movement and see real-life examples of humanitarianism in action.


Learning objectives

Learners will:

  • understand the history and fundamental principles of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement
  • explore the importance of humanity in the work of the Red Cross
  • consider how to take humanitarian actions in their own lives and contribute to improving their own communities.


Resource overview

1. Starter: A humanitarian vision

Explore some of the principles on which the Movement is based using an animated film and group discussion.

2. Raising awareness: Refusing to ignore people in need

Learners write a persuasive letter, speech or poem to motivate others to support the Red Cross.

3. Raising awareness: The fundamental principles

Learners engage in more depth with the seven fundamental principles of the Movement and how they relate to the Geneva Conventions.

4. Then and now: The legacy of founder Henri Dunant

Learners watch a film and discuss how Movement has changed since it was created and what has stayed the same.

5. Taking action: Humanitarian action in everyday life

Learners explore the barriers that might exist to stepping in and helping someone in need and consider how they might help others in their own lives.

Video: The Story of an Idea


These resources were written by Rob Bowden and Rosie Wilson of Lifeworlds Learning, published in September 2015 and reviewed in December 2017.

The photo shows Rosa about to see her child, Emmanuel, again after more than a year apart, through the ICRC Restoring Family Links programme, South Sudan (© Mari Mortvedt/IFRC).