our history

The beginnings of the Red Cross

Origins of the Red Cross Movement

Our belief in the power of kindness can be traced back to the creation of the Red Cross Movement.

The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement started in 1863 and was inspired by Swiss businessman Henry Dunant.

The suffering of thousands of men on both sides of the Battle of Solferino in 1859 upset Dunant. Many were left to die due to lack of care.

He proposed creating national relief societies, made up of volunteers, trained in peacetime to provide neutral and impartial help to relieve suffering in times of war.

In response to these ideas, a committee (which later became the International Committee of the Red Cross) was established in Geneva. The founding charter of the Red Cross was drawn up in 1863.

Dunant also proposed that countries adopt an international agreement, which would recognise the status of medical services and of the wounded on the battlefield. This agreement – the original Geneva Convention – was adopted in 1864.