The red cross & the red crescent have been at the service of humanity for more than a century - affording protection lớn those affected by conflict and to those assisting them. In December 2005, an additional emblem - the red crystal - was created alongside the red cross and the red crescent. The following document explains the history of the emblems.

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Prior to lớn the nineteenth century, the symbols used lớn identify armed forces'medical services varied according to lớn their country of origin. The symbols were not generally well known, were rarely respected & were not entitled lớn any khung of legal protection.

In the second half of the nineteenth century, the rapid development in firearms giải pháp công nghệ led to lớn a dramatic increase in the number of dead & wounded during wartime.

On 24 June 1859, the War of Italian Unification was raging. Henry Dunant, a Swiss citizen, was on a private trip that took him to the town of Solferino. There, he witnessed the misery of more than 45,000 soldiers abandoned, dead or wounded, on the battlefield.

Back in Geneva, Henry Dunant started writing a book proposing drastic improvements in the assistance afforded khổng lồ war victims.


In 1862, “A Memory of Solferino” was published. The book puts forward two proposals:

to set up in peacetime and in every country volunteer groups to lớn take care of casualties in wartime;

to get countries to lớn agree khổng lồ protect first aid volunteers and the wounded on the battlefield;

The first proposal was the origin of the National Societies that now exist in 183 countries; and the second was the origin of the Geneva Conventions now signed by 192 States.


On 17 February 1863, a five-member committee, the future International Committee of the Red Cross (, met khổng lồ study Dunant’s proposals.

One of its main objectives was to lớn adopt a single distinctive symbol backed by the law khổng lồ indicate respect for army medical s ervices, volunteers with first aid societies and the victims of armed conflicts.

The symbol needed to lớn be simple, identifiable from a distance, known to everyone và identical for friend & foe. The emblem had to lớn be the same for everyone và universally recognizable.

On 26 October 1863, the first International Conference was convened. It included delegates from 14 governments.

In addition lớn adopting ten resolutions, which provided for the establishment of relief societies for wounded soldiers - the future Red Cross and, later, Red Crescent Societies - it also adopted the red cross on a trắng background as the uniform distinctive emblem.


In August 1864, the Diplomatic Conference, convened for the purpose of transforming the resolutions adopted in 1863 into treaty rules, adopted the First Geneva Convention.

Modern international humanitarian law was born.

The First Geneva Convention recognized the red cross on a white background as the single distinctive emblem.

Since the emblem was lớn reflect the neutrality of the armed forces'medical services and the protection conferred on them, the emblem adopted was formed by reversing the colours of the Swiss flag.

Switzerland's permanent neutral status had been firmly established in practice for several years, và had been confirmed by the Treaties of Vienna & Paris in 1815. Furthermore, the white flag was and remains a symbol of the wish lớn negotiate or to surrender; firing on anyone displaying it in good faith is unacceptable.

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The resulting symbol had the advantage of being easily produced and recognizable at a distance because of its contrasting colours.


During the war between Russia & Turkey, the Ottoman Empire declared that it would use the red crescent on a white background in place of the red cross. While respecting the red cross symbol, the Ottoman authorities believed that the red cross was, by its very nature, offensive to lớn Muslim soldiers. The red crescent was temporarily accepted for the duration of this conflict.


After the First World War, the 1929 Diplomatic Conference was called to revise the Geneva Conventions. The Turkish, Persian & Egyptian delegations requested that the red crescent và the red lion and sun be recognized. After lengthy discussions, the Conference agreed to lớn recognize them as distinctive emblems in addition khổng lồ the red cross; but in order khổng lồ avoid any proliferation of emblems, it limited the authorization lớn the three countries that already used them.

The three distinctive emblems enjoy equal status under the Geneva Conventions.

Today, 151 National Societi es use the red cross & 32 the red crescent.


The Diplomatic Conference convened in 1949 to lớn revise the Geneva Conventions in the aftermath of the Second World War studied three proposals for a solution lớn the question of the emblems:

a proposal from the Netherlands for a new single symbol;

a proposal to revert lớn using a single red cross symbol;

a proposal from Israel for the recognition of a new emblem, the red shield of David which was used as the distinctive symbol of the Israeli armed forces’ medical services;

All three proposals were rejected.

The conference expressed its opposition lớn the proliferation of protective emblems. The red cross, the red crescent và the red lion và sun remained the recognized emblems.


The Islamic Republic of Iran declared that it was waiving its right to lớn use the red lion and sun và would use the red crescent as its distinctive symbol. However, it reserved the right khổng lồ return khổng lồ the red lion và sun should new emblems be recognized.


Debate about the emblems continued after the 1949 decision. A number of countries & their relief societies still wanted lớn use national emblems, or both the cross and crescent together. By the 1990s, there was also concern about respect for the neutrality of the red cross or red crescent in certain difficult conflic ts. In 1992, the then president of the called publicly for the creation of an additional emblem devoid of any national, political or religious connotation.


The 1999 International Conference of the Red Cross và Red Crescent endorsed the proposal that a joint working group of States và National Societies on the emblems should be formed to find a comprehensive và lasting solution acceptable to lớn all parties in terms of substance & procedure.


The Working Group realized that a majority of States và National Societies were deeply attached khổng lồ the red cross and red crescent emblems. Thus, the only way of finding a widely accepted solution was khổng lồ adopt a third additional emblem, devoid of any national, political or religious connotation.

The kiến thiết of the new emblem should enable a National Society using it to:

insert a cross or a crescent;

insert a cross và a crescent side by side;

insert any other symbol that is in use and has been communicated lớn the depositary State of the Geneva Conventions & the


In December 2005 during the Diplomatic Conference in Geneva, the States adopted Protocol III additional khổng lồ the Geneva Conventions, creating an additional emblem alongside the red cross and red crescent. The new emblem - known as the red crystal - resolves several issues that the Movement has faced over the years, including:

the possibility for countries unwilling to adopt the red cross or the red crescent khổng lồ join the Movement as full members by using the red crystal;

the possibility of using the red cross & the red crescent together.


In June 2006, an International Conference of the Red Cross & Red Crescent met in Geneva lớn amend the statutes of the Movement khổng lồ take into trương mục the creation of the new emblem.


On 14 January 2007, the Third Additional Protocol lớn the 1949 Geneva Conventions entered into force (six months after the two first countries ratified it). This completes the process of establishing an additional emblem for use by Governments và the International Red Cross và Red Crescent Movement.

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