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Fifty Years Anniversary of the Red Cross Red Crescent Fundamental Principles

Press release

The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the adoption of its seven Fundamental Principles

The Principles of Humanity, Impartiality, Neutrality, Independence, Voluntary Service, Unity and Universality articulate the Movement’s mission to assist communities affected by disasters, conflict or crisis, wherever and whoever they are.

The Fundamental Principles are behind the decisions Red Cross Red Crescent National Societies worldwide. They are our moral compass guiding our actions and choices in delivering humanitarian assistance,” says Leon Prop, Red Cross EU Office Director.

The principles of Unity and Universality explain how we work. The principle of Unity reflects the fact that volunteers and staff are drawn from the very communities they come from, allowing the Movement to gain trust and identify the most effective ways of responding to needs. At the same time, the principle of Universality enables the Movement to rely on a global network which works in solidarity, able to reach people in need wherever they are in the world, fast.

The Fundamental Principles have also allowed the Movement to become a trusted partner for stakeholders, such as governments and donors. By striving to remain neutral and independent, The Movement has been able to access people in very diverse contexts and locations, bringing help where is needed and where other actors are unable to reach.

"The gap between the needs of people and our ability to respond is growing,” said Yves Daccord, Director-General of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). "Organizations are less and less in direct contact with the people they are seeking to help largely due to security challenges. Employing the principles of Humanity and Impartiality is the minimum to ensure that we gain the trust and acceptance of the people we aim to assist and protect, and continue to deliver these essential services. Without the Fundamental Principles, we would very quickly lose this contact with the people and, along with it, our edge.”

The Red Cross and Red Crescent principles are universal, they apply in every context and are also important in times of non-emergency to prepare for action in times of crisis.

"Our principles help save lives. They allow us to reach people affected by crises – including those fleeing conflict and persecution – and they enable the delivery of effective assistance,” said Elhadj As Sy, Secretary General of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). "Today is an opportunity to reaffirm our commitment to these Principles, and to call on our partners to ensure that they are consistently applied and respected.”

To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Fundamental Principles, leaders of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement are gathering this week in Vienna, the city where the Principles were first adopted. They will reflect on the importance and continued relevance of the Principles. Outcomes from these discussions will be brought to the International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent in December, the Movement’s supreme deliberative body that brings together 189 National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies from around the world, the IFRC, ICRC and 196 States Parties to the Geneva Conventions.

To learn more about the Fundamental Principles and the work of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, visit:

On 21 September 2015, the Red Cross EU Office organized a joint event with the ICRC delegation in Brussels, to highlight the Fundamental Principles anniversary through a panel discussion. You can learn more about it here.

For more information, please contact:

In Brussels:

Eva Oyon, Acting Head of Communications Unit, Red Cross EU Office
Phone: +32 2 235 09 22, E-mail:

In Geneva:

Benoit Carpentier, IFRC Team Leader for Public Communications
Mobile: +41 79 213 24 13, E-mail:

Reeni Amin Chua, IFRC Communications Officer, Geneva
Mobile: +41 79 708 6273, E-mail:

For media inquiries, please contact Eva Oyón on: or +32 2 235 09 22

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