International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)

Reference work entry
Part of the The Statesman's Yearbook book series (SYBK)

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is a Swiss-based impartial, neutral and independent organization ensuring humanitarian protection and assistance for victims of war and other situations of violence.

Established in 1863, the ICRC is a founding member of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and of international humanitarian law, notably the Geneva Conventions.

The ICRC is mandated by the international community to be the guardian and promoter of international humanitarian law. It has a permanent mandate under international law to take impartial action for prisoners, the wounded and sick, and civilians affected by conflict.

The ICRC aims to ensure that civilians not taking part in hostilities are spared and protected; to visit prisoners of war and security detainees and ensure that they are treated humanely and according to recognized international standards that forbid torture and other forms of abuse; to transmit messages to and reunite family members separated by armed conflict; to help find missing persons; to offer or facilitate access to basic health care facilities; to provide food, safe drinking water, sanitation and shelter in emergencies; to promote respect for, monitor compliance with and contribute to the development of international humanitarian law; to help reduce the impact of mines and explosive remnants of war on people; and to support national Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies to prepare for and respond to armed conflict and situations of violence.

The ICRC is a global presence with offices in over 80 countries and some 14,500 staff worldwide. Its HQ is in Geneva, Switzerland.

  • Headquarters: 19 avenue de la Paix, CH-1202 Geneva, Switzerland.

  • Website:

  • President: Peter Maurer (Switzerland).

Further Reading

  1. Forsythe, David P., The Humanitarians: The International Committee of the Red Cross. 2005Google Scholar
  2. Forsythe, David P. and Rieffer-Flanagan, Barbara Ann J., The International Committee of the Red Cross: A Neutral Humanitarian Actor. 2007Google Scholar
  3. Moorehead, Caroline, Dunant’s Dream: War, Switzerland and the History of the Red Cross. 1998Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s) 2018

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