This e-briefing traces the latest developments in the contemporary debate on the seven Fundamental Principles of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement.

These seven principles are the expression of a set of values and experiences distilled from over a century and a half of protecting the lives and dignity of people affected by conflict and disaster worldwide. Building on the experience of humanitarian professionals, they provide humanitarian actors with a compass to navigate difficult dilemmas such as priority setting in situations where needs exceed limited resources, or the tension between security of humanitarian workers and access to populations.

Officially proclaimed 50 years ago, several principles have been enshrined in United Nations resolutions, in State commitments and in pledges from numerous aid agencies, making them a rallying force in the humanitarian community and beyond. And yet, the concepts as well as the practices of ‘Principled Humanitarian Action’ are being challenged in current conflicts.

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