The Red Cross Contribution to Peace
The Red Cross was born over a hundred years ago on the field of battle. Aid to the wounded was the first mission it undertook. From the outset it thus restricted the scope of its ambition. By its desire to achieve that objective before anything else, the International Committee of the Red Cross acted with wisdom. So long as its work had not attained a certain degree of importance, so long as it was not universally recognized, the Committee decided its mission should be kept within certain limits and not get out of hand. The International Committee certainly had no desire thereby to justify war as a necessary evil. Its aim was essentially to combat war by limiting the distress it caused, for although its supreme objective was to ensure peace in the world, the Red Cross could not itself, with the forces at its command, have any illusions that it could stem the tide of war. It therefore endeavoured first and foremost to attenuate its harmful effects. As Louis Appia, one of the Red Cross founders, said, “Let us declare aloud our keen regret, our grief, at not being able to do more; let us protest against the great collective iniquity known as war, which is but one of the forms of evil in the world”.