By Arti Sharma, volunteer contributor, American Red Cross North Texas Region
The Red Cross is one of the most recognized brands across the globe, with a presence in almost every country. With this recognition comes a universal confidence in the Red Cross’ role in providing hope in the face of suffering. Across the centuries, amid changing times, the Fundamental Principles of Red Cross keep it true to its mission, making it a trusted brand that is able to serve this world during conflict, disaster, and crisis. These are the Seven Fundamental Principles that afford Red Cross the opportunity to shine light in some of the darkest places in this world and during troubling times in history:
- Humanity: This principle desires “…to prevent and alleviate human suffering wherever it may be found…..To protect life and health and to ensure respect for the human being. It promotes mutual understanding, friendship, cooperation, and lasting amongst all peoples.
- Impartiality: The Red Cross makes no discrimination as to nationality, race, religious beliefs, class or political opinions. It endeavors to relieve the suffering of individuals, being guided solely by their needs, and to give priority to the most urgent cases of distress.
- Neutrality: 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: The Red Cross Movement is independent from any other entity including governmental agencies. While each Red Cross is an auxiliary in the humanitarian services of their governments and subject to the laws of their respective countries, they must always maintain their autonomy so that they may be able at all times to act in accordance with principles of the Movement.
- Voluntary Service: It is a voluntary relief movement not prompted in any manner by desire for gain.
- Unity: There can be only one Red Cross or one Red Crescent Society in anyone country. It must be open to all. It must carry on its humanitarian work throughout its territory.
- Universality: The International Red Cross and Red Crescent (ICRC) Movement, in which all Societies have equal status and share equal responsibilities and duties in helping each other, is worldwide. [i]
With a focus on these Fundamental Principles, the ICRC Movement is not influenced or corroded by bias, gain, or subjectivity; rather, it is powered by its service to humanity.
Because of this, throughout history, despite great divides and turning tides, being steadfast in these Principles gave Red Cross the ability to provide help to those who were most impacted by the plight of a time period.
Over the decades and throughout the course of history where pain, crisis, loss and tragedy plagued humankind, the Fundamental Principles of ICRC to cross boundaries defined by warfare, bigotry and conflict to serve in the name of hope. It is because of these Principles that, during the harshest of battles, sides in opposition understand the deeply humane role Red Cross provides. The effect of these Fundamental Principles affords Red Cross the ability to serve those in need in the face of disaster, pandemic, and countless emergencies.
Today, American Red Cross and the Red Cross movement continues to hold the universal confidence derived from the Seven Fundamental Principles in highest regard, daily responding to disasters, various emergencies across the country and worldwide. Because Red Cross is guided by these Principles that give this trusted confidence, millions of Red Cross volunteers who use the Fundamental Principles as their compass have been able to–and continue to–serve as a beacon of hope, shining light in the darkest places on this earth, during the most torrid and urgent times, alleviating suffering, saving lives then, now, and in the history to come.
[i] Mission & Values. (n.d.). American Red Cross Mission Statement. Retrieved March 21, 2021, from https://www.redcross.org/about-us/who-we-are/mission-and-values.html