“The work of the Red Cross is born of a high ideal, from which it continually draws fresh life, but as it primarily consists of practical actions, frequently improvised, there is a serious risk that in the haste of charitable action and in spite of the purity of one’s intentions, one may deviate from the guiding principles and unity of thought may diminish, the more so as the institution takes root in every corner of the world. It is therefore particularly necessary that the Red Cross possesses a well-defined and firmly established doctrine.“
The ICRC doctrine is the body of documents adopted by the Assembly with a view to providing longterm inspiration and guidance for the organization’s action and thinking. It takes into account the external environment and is based on: the practice, history and statutes of the ICRC; the Fundamental Principles and the statutes and resolutions of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement; international humanitarian law. The main purpose of developing and codifying doctrine is to ensure that the action of the ICRC and its representatives is both consistent over time and more predictable and credible.
The ICRC library’s collections include the ICRC’s public policy documents.
General policy documents relevant to the ICRC as a whole
The ICRC’s role in situations of violence below the threshold of armed conflict (also available in French, Spanish and Portuguese)
Action by the International Committee of the Red Cross in the event of violations of international humanitarian law or of other fundamental rules protecting persons in situations of violence (also available in French, Spanish and Russian)
Policy documents concerning ICRC activities
Policy on ICRC Cooperation with National Societies (also available in French and Spanish)
Specific doctrines regarding the action of the ICRC
Note: A commentary on this doctrine has been published in 2002 in the International Review of the Red Cross (only available in French)
Policy documents on long-term positions held by the ICRC
Le CICR et les condamnations à mort (only available in French ; not available online)
ICRC Attitude to Economic Sanctions and Guidelines for an ICRC Response (also available in Spanish, Arabic and Russian)