Since the first Conference in 1863, 192 National Societies have joined the family of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. Over the course of their history, they have produced extensive documentation that reports on their day-to-day activities, whether through journals or annual reports.
The ICRC library holds a significant number of these documents, which this research guide arranges according to the context of their publication.
This world map provides information on each of the 192 National Societies recognised by the ICRC. It shows their foundation dates, dates of recognition and the number of the corresponding circular. Finally, a link redirects to the documents held by the library concerning each of them.
As stated in the article published in parallel, the very first National Societies created following the first International Conference were not subject to a recognition circular.
In addition, the National Society directory of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) provides useful contact information and the websites for all 192 Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies around the world.
Many National Societies have, from their inception, published a public newsletter reporting on their day-to-day activities. The library has a number of these, from some 50 organizations. Dating for some of them from the second half of the 19th century, these journals are a unique testimony to the spread of the Movement’s ideals throughout the world.
South Africa, Albania, Germany, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Czechoslovakia, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Finland, France, Greece, Guatemala, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Iran, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Lebanon, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Norway, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Turkey, United Kingdom, United States, USSR, Venezuela, Yugoslavia.
Some National societies publish commemorative works on the occasion of a particular anniversary or event. In addition to tracing their history, they provide a unique source for understanding the perspective these organisations have on their own past. The library holds a number of them in physical format:
Reports submitted to International Conferences
Together with the ICRC and the Federation, National Societies form the third component of the Movement. In this respect, they participate in statutory meetings and in particular in international conferences, where they can present their reports on their activities. These reports, which are usually concise, provide a very good summary of the work of the National Societies during the year in question.
The ICRC’s audiovisual archives hold a large collection of photos, films/videos and sound recordings, a number of which are a perfect illustration of the work of National Societies. From 1867 to the present day, several thousand audiovisual documents give a more concrete idea of the activities of the various Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies around the world.
In the absence of books specifically tracing the history of National Societies as a whole, the reader will have to turn to monographs and articles dealing with the Movement. For more specific documentation, the commemorative works cited above are obviously a valuable source.
Above the fray : the Red Cross and the making of the humanitarian NGO sector / Shai M. Dromi. Chicago : University of Chicago Press, 2020
Champions of charity : war and the rise of the Red Cross / John F. Hutchinson. Boulder : Westview Press, 1996
Humanité pour tous : le Mouvement international de la Croix-Rouge et du Croissant-Rouge / Hans Haug ; avec la collab. de Hans-Peter Gasser, Jean Pascalis, Françoise Perret et Jean-Pierre Robert-Tissot. Berne : Institut Henry Dunant, 1993.
Humanitarian principles put to the test : challenges to humanitarian action during decolonization / Andrew Thompson. International Review of the Red Cross, no. 897/898, 2016. Available in french.
The International conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent : challenges, key issues and achievements / François Bugnion. International Review of the Red Cross, Vol. 91, 2009. Available in french.
The five volumes on the history of the ICRC are always useful, as the Committee’s work often benefited from the collaboration with the various Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies around the world.