IRRC No. 272

Protecting the emblems in peacetime: The experiences of the British Red Cross Society

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The special significance of the red cross and red crescent emblems as internationally agreed symbols of protection and neutrality in armed conflict will be diluted if these emblems, or signs closely resembling them, are used randomly or for diffuse purposes in time of peace. In countries like the United Kingdom which for the most part have been spared armed conflict for the past 40 years, the red cross emblem has frequently become closely identified with first aid and with general health or medical care, its primary and unique meaning during armed conflict often being forgotten or unknown. For this reason it is perhaps particularly important for National Societies in such countries to help the authorities monitor unauthorised uses or misuses of the emblems, and the role of National Societies in this respect has been recognised under the 1986 International Statutes of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement (Article 3 [2] thereof). In addition, dissemination activities can help to enhance understanding of the purpose of the emblems. This short article will discuss practical aspects of the monitoring role of the British Red Cross Society.

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