Our principles in action

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement's Fundamental Principles. These principles unite the Movement in 189 countries and are the basis of our decisions and actions.


"Humanity means

we can get closure."

Ebola has taken thousands of lives. In its wake, has left countless families devastated.

Red Cross and Red Crescent volunteers like Frances have made it possible for these families to see their loved ones buried, not only safely, but with dignity while respecting local traditions.



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. Its purpose is to protect life and health and to ensure respect for the human being. It promotes mutual understanding, friendship, cooperation and lasting peace amongst all peoples.

"Impartiality means

we can sleep with a roof over our heads."

Jerry and Irene were a young couple with a new baby on the way. Then Typhoon Haiyan hit. And they were left vulnerable and homeless, together with thousands of other people.
In the wake of the disaster, the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement ensured the family were amongst the first to receive a newly constructed house. So Jerry and Irene had a safe place to sleep, and could focus on rebuilding their lives.



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.


"Neutrality means

I can get married."

Nihal was from occupied Golan. Her groom was living in neighbouring Syria. In the demilitarized zone between their two homes, the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement helped make this wedding happen.
Through assistance with the practical arrangements and access to a safe place, the families were able to have rare moment together to celebrate the marriage.



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.

"Independence means

that we can learn."

Meryem and Nicole go to school each day to learn about mathematics, grammar and science. But their favourite lesson is about humanity.

While independent, the Austrian Red Cross delivers humanitarian education to schools as part of its ongoing partnership with the Austrian government. So Meryem and Nicole can learn life-saving skills like first aid, and basic values such as tolerance and compassion for others.



The Movement is independent. The National Societies, while auxiliaries in the humanitarian services of their governments and subject to the 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.

My Story

Almost everyone has a Red Cross or Red Crescent story. What’s yours?

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What do the Fundamental Principles mean to you? How have they affected your life? What can you – and we – do to promote a better understanding of our principles?

Tell us on our blog

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"Voluntary service means

they can get well."

The earthquake in Haiti left devastation it its wake. Millions of people were affected. Thousands were in desperate need of first aid.
Red Cross and Red Crescent volunteers like Jean worked tirelessly, ensuring locals received essential medical treatment.


Voluntary service

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

"Unity means

everyone can get help."

Every day the Lebanese Red Cross ambulance service receives hundreds of urgent requests for assistance.
With 2,700 first aid volunteers from all walks of life, the team aims to respond to emergency calls within minutes, ensuring help is always on the way for anyone in need – no matter who they are or where they're from.



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

"Universality means

I can be with my family."

Pilera was visiting her aunt in Bangui, Central African Republic, when the city was attacked. They both fled and found safety in neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo. But Pilera had no idea what happened to her mother.
Through the exhaustive efforts of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, Pilera’s mother was found. After a year of being separated, the two were overjoyed to finally be together again.



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 principles of humanity, impartiality, neutrality and independence have been at the heart of all major humanitarian operations for over a century." Peter Maurer

Our shared commitment to serve the most vulnerable people everywhere, now and in the future.