In addition to developing the norms that would eventually become international humanitarian law, since its founding the ICRC has also been encouraging the creation of relief societies throughout the world. Those efforts were codified in Article 1 of the resolutions adopted at the Geneva International Conference of October 1863:

Each country shall have a Committee whose duty it shall be, in time of war and if the need arises, to assist the Army Medical Services by every means in its power.

The Committee shall organize itself in the manner which seems to it most useful and appropriate.

It was specified in Article 3 that these national committees[1] should be in contact with their respective governments to ensure that wounded soldiers received assistance in wartime. The committees were also to remain active in peacetime so that they could be prepared for future conflicts. In the words of Gustave Moynier, one of the ICRC’s founders: “before then, charity had always been caught unawares.”

During peacetime, the committees were tasked with recruiting and training volunteer nurses who would be ready for action in case of armed conflict. Though essentially privately funded, the committees also sought donations to be able to procure the equipment they needed. Such was their originally assigned role; their mandate would eventually change in the wake of some of history’s darkest moments.

 Over 150 years after the ICRC’s founding, there are now 192 National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies currently active. Though they are members of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, the Statutes of the Movement still require that they be formally recognized  in an ICRC circular. Official recognition grants them membership in the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and allows them to take part in its statutory meetings. For example, the ICRC recognized the Bhutan Red Cross Society in November 2019.

The timeline above shows us at a glance that the large majority of National Societies joined the Movement after 1950. Some decades saw more Societies recognized than others, often following significant – and sometimes tragic – events in history. For the purposes of this article, we will focus on three important periods in the history of relations between the ICRC and National Societies:

  1. The years following 1863, when the very first National Societies were formed. Though relatively few in number, the early origins of these Societies make them singular cases.
  2. A wave of new National Societies in the 1920s following the First World War (1914–1918).
  3. Decolonization in the 1960s and 1970s, when newly independent countries created their own National Societies.

To the National Societies documents

Eurocentric beginnings

The earliest National Societies – including the very first, that of Württemberg, founded in December 1863 – were not recognized by ICRC circular. France, Belgium, Spain and Italy joined Württemberg in creating their own relief societies the following year, and Portugal, Sweden and Norway followed suit in 1865. As Germany had not yet been unified, no fewer than nine societies were formed in the German states prior to 1870 and were coordinated by the Central Committee of German Societies in Berlin. The designation “National Red Cross” – still in use today – was not required until 1872.[2] Until then, each society was free to adopt whatever name it chose. Württemberg’s society, for example, was called the Hilfskomitee für die verwundeten Soldaten or “Relief Committee for Wounded Soldiers”.

As Moynier wrote: “The societies that formed the original core of the Red Cross were born out of the enthusiasm generated by the resolutions and pledges made at the Conference of 1863. Drawing as they did their inspiration from the same source, and led for the most part by men who knew one another, they formed a community of feeling and practical vision; they knew that to which they were committed and vowed to be as brothers and to help one another.”[3] Soon, however, the ideals upon which the ICRC had been founded would spread to the rest of Europe and even to other continents, far beyond the attendees of the 1863 Conference. It became necessary to formalize how National Societies were recognized, through the system of circulars still used today.

The first National Society to be formally recognized via ICRC circular was that of the Ottoman Empire, in August 1868. Or to be precise, the ICRC announced that a “temporary committee on the creation of an Ottoman relief society for wounded soldiers has been created in Constantinople.” It was not until April 1877 that Circular No. 36 announced the definite founding of the new Ottoman society. The text contained one important specification: it drew attention to the fact that “the Ottoman relief society for wounded soldiers ha[d] adopted, as a distinctive symbol for its neutral personnel, a flag and armband showing the red crescent on a white ground.”[4]

This episode illustrates that the date of recognition did not necessarily correspond to that of a given society’s founding; in fact, it was relatively common for a National Society to be active for several years before being endorsed by the ICRC. The delay can usually be attributed to the time it took to ensure compliance of the new society’s statutes or for the country in question to adhere to the First Geneva Convention. For example, the Japanese Red Cross Society – the first in Asia – was founded in 1877 but would not be formally recognized by the ICRC until ten years later, when Japan signed the Geneva Convention of 1864.

On 8 May 1880, the ICRC recognized the first National Society in the Americas: that of Peru. At the time, however, communication over such great distances proved difficult. In January 1881, the ICRC deplored the events of the War of the Pacific (which pitted  Peru and Bolivia against Chile) in Circular No. 46, which went on to state: “We are convinced that, if the distance separating them from us had not prevented it, they would have called out to us in distress for aid. But communication with Peru takes a great deal of time and, supposing our friends there wrote immediately to request our assistance, the letter still would not have reached us for several weeks.” The ICRC was nonetheless pleased that its ideas had spread to the New World.

In 1889, the ICRC likewise welcomed the creation of a “Congolese African Red Cross Society”  in a circular whose language reflects the colonialist mentality in vogue at the time among the European elite:

The new Independent State of the Congo, though barely four years old, has made it a point of pride to outpace in this regard much older powers which ought perhaps to have preceded it. It is probable that the Congolese people, left to their own devices, would have been much slower to take such a step; but, under the tutelage of an enlightened sovereign of foreign race, who shirks no sacrifice in introducing civilization to Africa, the country’s leaders are energetically prodding it in the direction of progress. It is, to be precise, King Leopold to whom is owed the creation of the Congolese Red Cross.[5]

Development of the work of the Red Cross published by the International Committee on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the foundation of the Red Cross in 1888. (ICRC (ARR))

In this regard, the late 19th century was marked by the Berlin Conference of 1884–1885, during which control of the African continent was divided up among European powers. Colonized territories were most often covered by the colonizer’s National Society. This remained the case until the Tenth International Conference of the Red Cross in 1921, at which Resolution 11 was passed allowing colonized territories to create their own National Societies. Colonialist attitudes remained very much in force, however, and permission from the colonizing country was nonetheless required.

The earliest National Societies were generally founded at the initiative of physicians or military officers who had attended the Conference of 1863. In Prussia, however, it was Queen Augusta who launched the process in 1864, and in some countries, such as France, the ICRC took it upon itself to “spread the new ideas”.[6] But most National Societies were formed following armed conflicts. For although the period from 1815 to 1914 is sometimes known as the “century of peace”, the second half of the 19th century was nonetheless peppered with a number of conflicts, the best example of course being the Italian Wars of Independence, the setting for the Battle of Solferino. The following decades had their share of bloody conflicts: the Serbian–Ottoman War, the Russo–Turkish War and the War of the Pacific, which led to the creation of the Peruvian Red Cross. Such conflicts were often catalysts for the creation of National Societies, and the ICRC itself sometimes encouraged the process by sending delegates, as it did during the Russo–Turkish War.

The American Civil War indirectly led to the creation of the American Red Cross in 1881, as the society’s founder, Clara Barton, began her career as a nurse aiding soldiers on the battlefields. Circular No. 50 of 20 September 1882, in which the ICRC congratulated Barton, provides a good overview of the steps a National Society must complete before being recognized by the ICRC, i.e.: the country must sign on to the Geneva Convention, and the National Society must be accepted by the country’s authorities. The circular makes it clear that all sorts of obstacles could be encountered during the process. Some efforts fell through only a few years later: such was the case in Portugal, where the ICRC was forced to cut off communication with the committee in Lisbon following the “death or disappearance of most of its members”.[7]

The exact role of National Societies was not set in stone and evolved considerably over time. As originally set forth in the resolutions of the Geneva International Conference of 1863, relief societies were tasked exclusively with aiding the wounded during wartime, and their peacetime activities were limited to preparing for future conflicts. From the start, however, some called for authorization to extend their prerogatives to other useful activities outside the battlefield: preventing epidemics, treating diseases, etc. The ICRC was not necessarily in favour, fearing, as Léonce de Cazenove put it, that “by broadening relief societies’ activities beyond the special aim for which they were created, we risk diminishing the result of our efforts.” The issue was debated at the Third International Conference of the Red Cross in Berlin in 1869, and a decision made in favour of the Prussian Red Cross, which had proposed a broader scope of activities.

It should be noted that the relative autonomy granted to National Societies by the ICRC concerned not only their mode of action, but also the manner in which they interpreted the humanitarian mission and integrated it into their national mindsets. The very different symbolism adopted in different countries provides an excellent illustration: the French Red Cross, for example, used the image of Joan of Arc, whereas Americans used the personification Columbia.[8] At a time when nationalism was on the rise, combining universal principles with patriotic symbolism was a highly effective communication strategy among the European elite.[9]

Interwar period

The First World War was without a doubt a critical test for National Societies, not for only those in countries that took part in the conflict but also those in neutral countries. National Societies recruited and trained thousands of first-aid workers to care for the millions wounded in a conflict of unprecedented scale. The material and organizational resources necessary to provide such aid also forced them to expand their fundraising efforts and obtain more professional facilities. In sum, the war put National Societies to the test, as the various reports submitted to the Tenth International Conference in 1921 reveal in undisputable and terrible terms. The war also created tensions among National Societies, and the ICRC was often reduced to acting as a referee.[10]

It was following the First World War that the idea of a League of Red Cross Societies was first floated by Henry Davison, who had distinguished himself as head of the State War Council in the United States. Now the head of the American Red Cross, he believed the ICRC’s primacy within the Movement to be outdated and sought to coordinate the work of National Societies on the basis that the newly established peace would be long-lasting. Davison predicted a prolonged period of calm that would make the ICRC – a specifically war-focused organization – inoperative. And so the League was founded in 1919 with the support of the French, American, Japanese and Italian Red Cross societies, without the ICRC being truly informed.[11] The two organizations coexisted for several years before the ICRC managed to restore – temporarily – its primacy at the Tenth International Conference of the Red Cross in 1923. The debate persisted through to 1925, however, and many National Societies were far from pleased with the uncertainty surrounding the International Red Cross’ leadership. As one delegate to the Conference put it:

His motive for taking such steps, leading to this preliminary result, was that, in the opinion of the Scandinavian Red Cross societies, the current situation of dual leadership within the International Red Cross was completely intolerable.[12]

It was not until 1928 , at the Thirteenth International Conference of the Red Cross at The Hague, that the problem was officially resolved through the adoption of the Statutes of the International Red Cross.

The First World War also made clear the importance of having a permanent relief organization to care for the wounded, and no fewer than 18 new National Societies were created in the decade following 1914. The Movement also became more international around the turn of the century, expanding to Latin America in particular: Uruguay, Mexico, Panama, Colombia, Bolivia, Paraguay, Brazil, Ecuador and Chile all formed relief organizations between 1897 and 1920.[13]  Some of these countries had not experienced war on their home soil for decades, and their reports reveal the importance that the National Societies’ expanded prerogatives (following the debates of the 1880s) held for them. For example, the Colombian Red Cross, founded in 1915, was mainly providing aid to civilians – victims of earthquakes and fires and people suffering from malaria and syphilis – in the early 1920s. In 1921, it created a health centre in Bogotá that provided maternal health-care services and facilities where children from poor families could wash; three years later it opened a creche for dozens of young children.[14]

Course given by the French Red Cross in Port-Saïd (1938, ICRC (ARR))

The South African, Canadian and Australian Red Cross Societies were recognized in the mid-to-late 1920s following a reshaping of the British Empire. As noted in the ICRC’s general activities report for the years 1925 to 1928: “The status of Great Britain and the Dominions was established at the British Imperial Conference held in October and November of 1926. The International Committee considered the situation of the Red Cross Societies of the Dominions to have changed, and the British Red Cross, upon consultation, declared that the Red Cross Societies of Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and British India were no longer branches of the British Red Cross but rather independent Societies. The International Committee of the Red Cross hastened to write to the five aforementioned Societies. Three of them, as previously noted, fulfilled the formal requirements and were thus recognized.” This fragmentation came soon after the break-up of the Eastern European empires after 1918.

The First World War also resulted in reformed relations between National Societies and military authorities, or at the very least highlighted the importance of such reforms. In this regard, a distinction should be made between Societies that were associated with their respective governments – and thus highly integrated into the national military apparatus – and those that were more independent and whose interaction with military authorities was in need of being codified. On top of it all, the heads of military health services often sat on the central committees of their national Red Cross societies. This kind of overlap was particularly noteworthy in the delegations sent by the Mexican, Ecuadorian and Chilean societies to the International Conference of 1925: in Chile’s case, two ambassadors and the army’s chief medical officer.[15]

It was imperative that the relationship between National Societies and the military authorities – which had never been discussed in depth – should be decided before any future war broke out. The First World War had brought to light regulatory loopholes that sometimes prevented Societies from being effective, and in the 1920s, efforts were thus made to formally codify such relationships. Responses to an ICRC circular issued in June 1925 showed that the vast majority of National Societies had no regulations regarding their relationship to the military authorities. And yet, National Societies needed to achieve a delicate balance: deferring to the armed forces’ health services (which was clearly necessary in order to be effective), while still maintaining a certain level of autonomy. In other words, they needed to achieve “subordination without absorption”.[16]

German Red Cross anti-gas exercise (1930, ICRC (ARR))

Health worker training was another issue whose importance had become evident during a war that mobilized thousands of such workers. Practices varied widely across different societies depending on their national contexts and level of development. With the wave of new National Societies created following the war, the situation became all the more heterogenous: some societies ran their own nursing schools; others merely provided basic theoretical courses to individuals wishing to join the effort. In Japan, for example, the National Society ran 20 hospitals at which thousands of Red Cross health workers received their training. In the United States, the American Nurses Association – which had been a member of the Red Cross since 1909 – was in charge of training future Red Cross nurses. In other words, when it came to training nurses and ambulance drivers, the National Societies fell into four groups: those that exclusively trained volunteers to be ready in case of war, natural disaster or epidemic; those that trained both professional nurses – capable of working in peacetime as well as in war – and Red Cross volunteer aides at their own schools and training hospitals; those that trained only professional nurses; and those that did provide training at all, instead recruiting into their reserves nurses who had already received training from state-run schools or other institutions.[17]

During the roughly two decades between 1918 and the German invasion of Poland in 1939, the International Red Cross thus expanded both quantitatively and qualitatively. Not only did National Societies begin to crop up across the Atlantic, they also grew increasingly professional in response to the devastation caused by modern warfare. The Movement as a whole sought to consolidate its organization of humanitarian aid; the First World War was also when the first ICRC delegations as we now know them came into being.[18] These efforts were not in vain, as the creation of the Joint Relief Commission during the Second World War would later prove.


Post-war era and decolonization

Once-powerful European nations emerged diminished from the Second World War, and the two main victors, the USSR and the United States, were both hostile to old-fashioned colonialism. The new world order had little tolerance for the imperial power structures that had been in place since the 19th century. In the decades following 1945, struggles for national liberation put an end to the official domination of one part of the globe over the other. The first nations to regain their independence were in Asia, including Syria, Lebanon, Myanmar and Indonesia.

Decolonization in Asia was followed by a string of states gaining independence in Africa in the 1960s. This historic trend was reflected in an expansion of the Movement family – in 1963 alone, ten National Societies were recognized by the ICRC, of which seven were in African countries: Burundi, Cameroon, Madagascar, Tanganyika (now part of Tanzania), Algeria, Senegal and Côte d’Ivoire. In total, no fewer than 41 Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies were recognized by the ICRC between 1950 and 1969. Whereas the Movement only had two African National Societies in 1945 (those of South Africa and Ethiopia), only 20 years later it had more than ten. This trend mirrored the massive influx of new members into the United Nations that would tip the balance of power within the UN General Assembly. The Assembly itself contributed to the increase in new National Societies, as it encouraged its member states to form them in a resolution passed in November 1946.[19]

The ICRC emerged from the Second World War considerably weakened and the subject of much criticism.[20] But the creation of numerous National Societies unquestionably injected the Movement with new energy. Indeed, the Movement did not stop its activities in 1945, as other conflicts sprang up in the wake of Japan’s surrender, including the Korean War, the Greek Civil War, the First Indochina War and the Chinese Civil War. There was thus no shortage of pla

Collaboration between the ICRC and the Lao Red Cross in 1967 (ICRC)

ces requiring humanitarian aid, despite the bloodiest conflict in human history having come to an end.

Decolonization and its upset of the imperial Eurocentric order transformed the role of humanitarian action in general and that of National Societies in particular.[21] National Societies in colonizing countries found themselves in a contradictory position and were often reproached – not without reason – for being biased in favour of the colonizers. In October 1962, the ICRC convened a commission of experts to examine the question of aid to the victims of internal conflicts, during which the National Societies’ principles of independence and impartiality were reaffirmed, particularly with regard to their governments. The ICRC, too, found itself confronted with wars of national liberation that European powers generally sought to paint as simple internal disturbances that did not require humanitarian action; the reality on the ground often became entangled with the ideological battle between East and West.

The rise of Cold War tensions after 1945 would further disrupt the Movement’s activities. At the Nineteenth International Conference, held in New Delhi in 1957, there was a clash between the two Chinese delegations, and eventually several other delegations – who did not believe the government in Taiwan should be represented – left in solidarity with the People’s Republic of China. The question remaining unresolved, no Conference was held in 1963, and it was not until the 1965 Conference in Vienna that the Movement was able to return, more or less, to its usual business. Generally speaking, the East–West divide – and the wars of national liberation associated with it – contributed to a climate that was hostile to international cooperation, and the ICRC was forced to deal with the situation as best it could.[22]

Let us take, for example, the case of Algeria, which had been fighting a war of decolonization since 1954 when the Algerian Red Crescent was founded in 1957. The ICRC nevertheless did not consider the new society to fulfil the necessary conditions for recognition – i.e., carrying out its activities within the territory of a state of which it bore the name. (At the time, Algeria was still considered a department of France.) It was not until Circular No. 446 of 4 July 1963 that the Algerian Red Crescent was finally recognized by the ICRC. Up until 1962, the ICRC considered the French Red Cross to be in charge of activities in Algeria, as noted in the circular: “The work of the Red Crescent in Algeria was carried out with devotion and competence by the French Red Cross until the country gained independence.”

The 1960s were named the Decade of Development by the United Nations; it was also during this period that financial and organizational disparities among National Societies became impossible to ignore.[23] This would lead to a paradigm shift in what it meant for National Societies to be recognized by the ICRC. Up until then, ICRC recognition constituted a sort of culminating achievement for a society, which might exist for years or even decades before being recognized. Following the aforementioned shift, however, recognition came to be seen as a  necessary step for the society’s further growth. The ICRC therefore adapted its requirements to take into account the situation of societies created under unstable conditions or in newly independent countries.[24] In July 1962, the ICRC even opened a delegation with the aim of fostering new National Societies in Africa and facilitating their recognition.

In that regard, Resolution 35  of the 1965 Conference in Vienna was on the “Development of National Societies in the Fields of Health, Social Welfare and Education” and specifically recommended that “National Societies establish and/or extend health, education and welfare programmes for youths and adults alike in collaboration with governmental and other non-governmental voluntary agencies to meet specific needs in developing areas.”

Sometimes such collaboration took unexpected forms, as when the Swedish, Netherlands and West German National Societies teamed up with the Brazilian Red Cross in 1970 on a reconnaissance mission to identify the medical needs of indigenous populations in the Brazilian Amazon. [25] The ICRC was also an integral part of the project and continued to provide support until 1973, when it passed the torch to the League of Red Cross Societies.

Meeting between Marcel Naville, president of the ICRC, and the ladies of the Cameroon Red Cross (1971, ICRC (ARR))

The ICRC and National Societies also collaborated in the area of international humanitarian law. In Circular No. 478, the ICRC invited National Societies to submit suggestions as to how international humanitarian law could be strengthened and developed. The basis of the project had begun to take shape at the International Conference of 1969, and it was eventually formalized in the Additional Protocols of 1977. In March 1971, experts from the National Societies that had expressed interest were invited to The Hague for the first session of the Conference of Red Cross Experts on the Reaffirmation and Development of International Humanitarian Law Applicable in Armed Conflicts. There, representatives of 34 National Societies (most of them European or American) debated such issues as guerrilla warfare and the application of international humanitarian law to such conflicts.

It was not the first time National Societies had been consulted in this way. The ICRC had systematically requested their input any time changes were made to international humanitarian law. For example, in 1946, the ICRC convened a preliminary conference of Red Cross societies that constituted an important step in the drafting of the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949. And even earlier, in 1918, Circular No. 172 had announced a “conference of Red Cross societies from all belligerent countries, as well as the neutral countries of Europe” with the aim of deciding the status of prisoners of war. The conference was never held, but it was a step in the direction of what would become the Geneva Convention of 27 July 1929 Relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War.

The Additional Protocols of 1977 can be seen as a product of the 1960s in that they owe much to the emergence of what was then known as the “Third World”. Newly independent former colonies felt a certain resentment at being bound by an international legal order that had been established in the late 1940s without their participation.[26] A partial revision of the Geneva Conventions was therefore considered necessary, leading to the development of the Additional Protocols.

To the present day

As Yves Sandoz observed in the late 1980s: “Originally created to act as auxiliaries to armed forces medical services in wartime […] the National Societies today find themselves playing their original role as only a small and relatively minor part of their activities. One reason for this is that the armed forces medical services have been greatly expanded in many countries and thus have less need of the National Societies’ support. Another reason is the above-mentioned change of emphasis following the First World War.”[27] Sandoz goes on to describe this change as a desirable development, for without it, the societies may not have survived.

From the start, the ICRC encouraged the National Societies to be relatively autonomous; the goal was to foster the creation of National Societies in as many countries as possible, not to lead them or dictate their activities. The ICRC therefore opposed a Russian initiative in the 1880s aimed at further centralizing what would become the Movement. The ICRC’s position was driven by the Federalist views of its founders but also by pragmatism: the organization recognized the importance of states and their relationships with their National Societies.[28]

Thus, much as the ICRC’s mandate has expanded from assisting wounded soldiers to eventually cover prisoners of war and civilians, National Societies’ role has also evolved considerably over time. In the face of harrowing historical events, National Societies gradually took on more and more different tasks, until they had become central players when it came to providing aid to people suffering from illness and poverty in their countries. Their expansion across the globe has likewise forced each of them to confront the very different realities faced by their fellow societies.

The number of National Societies continued to grow through the end of the 20th century, particularly following the break-up of the Soviet bloc. The 1990s were yet another record decade in terms of societies recognized by the ICRC: no less than 27. The contribution of these new National Societies to the history of the ICRC and the Movement still remains to be written.



[1] The terms “societies”, “relief societies”, “relief organizations” and “national committees” were all used at different points in history to designate the National Societies. They should be considered synonyms for the purposes of this text.

[2] Gustave Moynier, “Rappel succinct de l’activité déployée par le Comité international de la Croix-Rouge à Genève pendant les quarante premières années de son existence (1863 à 1904) présenté à ce Comité le 17 octobre 1904, par son président”, 1904, Geneva, p. 25.

[3] Gustave Moynier, La Croix-Rouge, son passé et son avenir, ICRC, Geneva, 1882, p. 16.

[4] The red crescent would not be officially recognized as a protective emblem until the International Conference of 1929. See François Bugnion, Red Cross, Red Crescent, Red Crystal, ICRC, Geneva, 2007, pp. 12–13.

[5] It should be noted that Gustave Moynier was a close associate of King Leopold II at the time, and even went on to serve as consul for the Congo in Switzerland from 1890 to 1904. See Moynier’s entry in Le Dictionnaire historique de la Suisse [available in French, German and Italian].

[6] Gustave Moynier, La Croix-Rouge, son passé et son avenir, ICRC, Geneva, 1882.

[7] Bulletin international des Sociétés de secours aux militaires blessés, No. 3, April 1870.

[8] Shai M. Dromi, Above the Fray: The Red Cross and the Making of the Humanitarian NGO Sector, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 2020, p. 77.

[9] For a more critical interpretation of the ways in which National Societies aligned themselves with their countries’ hawkish tendencies at the time, see John F. Hutchinson, Champions of Charity: War and the Rise of the Red Cross, Westview Press, Boulder, 1996. On page 155, Hutchinson cites Jules Lacointa, who, at the opening of the 1884 International Conference, praised relief societies for allying a passion for humanity with patriotism without making the one subordinate to the other.

[10] See the relevant sub-chapter in Cédric Cotter, (S’)aider pour survivre : action humanitaire et neutralité suisse pendant la Première Guerre Mondiale, Georg, Chêne-Bourg, 2017, pp. 42–47.

[11] Irène Herrmann, “Décrypter la concurrence humanitaire : le conflit entre Croix-Rouge(s) après 1918”, Relations internationales, No. 151, 2012.

[12] Report of the Twelfth International Conference of the Red Cross [in French], p. 52.

[13] For an overview of the ICRC’s rather quaint attitude towards these newly created National Societies and their environment, see: Suzanne Ferrière, “Les Croix-Rouge de l’Amérique du sud”, Revue Internationale de la Croix-Rouge et Bulletin International Des Sociétés de la Croix-Rouge, Vol. 6, No. 71, 1924. Cited in Palmieri, “Mission humanitaire ou voyage d’étude ? : le CICR et la guerre du Chaco” in Les guerres du Paraguay aux XIXe et XXe siècles, CoLibris, Paris, 2007, p. 57.

[14] Colombian Red Cross, Memoria presentada por la Cruz Roja Colombiana, 1925.

[15] In 1986, the Movement prohibited delegations from representing both the state and the National Society. See David P. Forsythe, The Humanitarians: The International Committee of the Red Cross, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2005, p. 22.

[16] ICRC, Relations des Services de santé militaires et des Sociétés nationales de la Croix-Rouge, 1925, p. 6.

[17] ICRC, Recrutement et formation des infirmières de la Croix-Rouge, 1928, p. 3.

[18] Daniel Palmieri, “An institution standing the test of time?: A review of 150 years of the history of the International Committee of the Red Cross”, International Review of the Red Cross, Vol. 94, No. 888, 2012, pp. 1273–1298.

[19] Hans Haug, Humanity for All: The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, Henry Dunant Institute, Bern, 1993, p. 159.

[20] Daniel Palmieri, “Savoir et se taire ? Le Comité international de la Croix-Rouge et la Shoah”, Revue d’histoire de la Shoah, Vol. 1, No. 210, 2019.

[21] Andrew Thompson, “Humanitarian principles put to the test: Challenges to humanitarian action during decolonization”, International Review of the Red Cross, No. 897/898, February 2016.

[22] François Bugnion, “The International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent: Challenges, key issues and achievements”, International Review of the Red Cross, Vol. 91, 2009.

[23] “The decolonization process begun after the Second World War and accelerated by the Suez Crisis was increasing the number of National Societies. Making contact with newly formed Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and accompanying them through the process leading to their recognition, and entry into the International Red Cross, would be one of the ICRC’s main challenges in the period from 1956 to 1965.” Françoise Perret and François Bugnion, History of the International Red Cross, Vol. 4: From Budapest to Saigon: 1956–1965, ICRC, Geneva, 2018, p. 18.

[24] Ibid., p. 286

[25] ICRC, Draft programme of Red Cross medical assistance to the Indian population of the Brazilian Amazon region, 1972. For a more personal account, see Serge Nessi, Autrefois… l’humanitaire, Slatkine, Geneva, 2019, pp. 159–180.

[26] François Bugnion, The International Committee of the Red Cross and the Protection of War Victims, ICRC/Macmillan, Geneva/Oxford, 2003, p. 320.

[27] Yves Sandoz, “Developing National Societies: An ongoing challenge”, International Review of the Red Cross, No. 264, 1988, pp. 251–256.

[28] David Forsythe, The Humanitarians: The International Committee of the Red Cross, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2005, pp. 25–26.