IRRC No. 888

Birth of an idea: the founding of the International Committee of the Red Cross and of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement: from Solferino to the original Geneva Convention (1859–1864)

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The trauma of coming face to face with the horrors of a battlefield and witnessing first-hand the abandonment of the war-wounded led Henry Dunant to two ingenious concepts: the creation of permanent volunteer relief societies and the adoption of a treaty to protect woundedsoldiers and all who endeavour to come to theiraid. On the initiative of Gustave Moynier, a committee was established in Geneva to implement Dunant's proposals. That committee–which soon took the name 'International Committee of the Red Cross' (ICRC)–convened two international conferences, the first of which laid the foundation for the future relief societies while the second adopted the initial Geneva Convention. This article considers the circumstances that led to the founding of the ICRC and then to that of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, starting with Solferino and culminating in the adoption of the Geneva Convention.

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