The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is a neutral, impartial and independent humanitarian organization. Its mandate to protect and assist the victims of armed conflict has been conferred on it by States through the four Geneva Conventions of 1949 and their Additional Protocols of 1977 and 2005, worthy successors to the First Geneva Convention of 1864.
The ICRC’s mandate and legal status set it apart both from intergovernmental agencies, such as United Nations organizations, and from non-governmental organizations (NGOs). In most of the countries in which it works, the ICRC has concluded headquarters agreements with the authorities. Through these agreements, which are subject to international law, the ICRC enjoys the privileges and immunities usually only granted to intergovernmental organizations.
ICRC in Israel and the Occupied Territories
In Israel and the occupied territories, the International Committee of the Red Cross focuses on the protection of civilians, the welfare of detainees held in Israeli and Palestinian jails, and help for the most needy. We support both the Palestine Red Crescent Society and the Magen David Adom (the Israeli National Society).
How the ICRC is financed:
The ICRC is funded by contributions from:
– The States party to the Geneva Conventions (governments);
– National Societies;
– Supranational organizations (such as the European Union);
– Public and private sources.
A little History in a Nutshell
Despite efforts to achieve world peace in the wake of two world wars, armed conflict remains a prominent feature of our human landscape. The resort to arms continues to be a means of settling differences between nations, peoples and ethnic groups, with the accompanying toll of death and suffering.
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) was founded nearly a century and a half ago in recognition of this sad reality. It seeks to preserve a measure of humanity in the midst of war. Its guiding principle is that even in war there are limits: limits on how warfare is conducted and limits on how combatants behave. The set of rules that were established with this in mind and endorsed by nearly every nation in the world is known as international humanitarian law, of which the Geneva Conventions are the bedrock.
The ICRC’s special role was assigned to it by States through the various instruments of humanitarian law. However, while it maintains a constant dialogue with States, it insists at all times on its independence. For, only if it is free to act independently of any government or other authority, can the ICRC serve the true interests of the victims of conflict, which lie at the heart of its humanitarian mission.