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Who created the Red Cross?


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Answered 2009-01-11 14:33:14

The international Red Cross movement began by a chance occurrence. In 1859, a Swiss businessman, Henry Dunant, traveled to northern Italy to obtain a business document. In Italy, he happened to witness a one-day battle between Austrian and French armies outside the town of Solferino. He was horrified to see that 9,000 wounded soldiers were left without any medical attention, and he organized local villagers to help care for the wounded. After returning home to Geneva, Dunant could not forget what he had seen, and, in 1862, he published his memoir of the event titled A Memory of Solferino. The book was a huge success and influenced a Geneva charity society to join with Dunant to form International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), which met for the first time in February 1863. Later that year, the committee held an international conference to bring together governmental and private aid organizations. (This combination of public and private support became an essential element of the Red Cross.) The 1863 conference led to ten resolutions that outlined the goals and organization of the ICRC. The ICRC wanted every country to form its own Red Cross committee to address their needs and to work in concert through the ICRC. The first Red Cross societies were created in Belgium, Prussia, Denmark, France, Italy, Spain, and other European countries in 1863. The American Red Cross was founded by Clara Barton in 1881. Almost every nation in the world has formed its own Red Cross or Red Crescent (as it is called in Muslim countries) organization. Each national group supports the fundamental principles of the movement, which are humanity, impartiality, neutrality, independence, voluntary service, unity, and universality. Many of these principles are at the heart of the Geneva Convention of 1864 (also known as the Treaty of Geneva), created by the ICRC. This document mandated that hospitals and medical personnel be treated as neutral parties during war and that wounded must be cared for, regardless of nationality. The Geneva Convention was the start of international humanitarian law and has had enormous influence around the world.

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