“You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty.” - Mahatma Gandhi
World Red Cross, Red Crescent and Red Crystal Day is an annual celebration of the principles of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. World Red Cross, Red Crescent and Red Crystal Day is celebrated on the 8th of May each year. This date is the anniversary of the birth of Henry Dunant (born 8 May 1828), the founder of International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the recipient of the first Nobel Peace Prize.
In 1922, soon after World War I, throughout the world there was a great yearning for peace. In Czechoslovakia, the National Society proclaimed a three-day truce at Easter to promote peace. An eminent government leader of the time summed up the underlying aspirations of that initiative as follows: “Our Red Cross wants to prevent disease so that it will not be obliged to give care; it also wants to encourage our society to prevent wars rather than having to bear the serious consequences involved. We all know the importance of the moral potential it brings into being and extends to all sections of the community. If its annual action could take hold in the whole world, this would certainly be a major contribution to peace.”
This was a presage of what was to become World Red Cross and Red Crescent Day. The Czechoslovak initiative, known as the “Red Cross Truce”, had a big impact on the public, but met with some scepticism among National Society leaders. As a result the 14th International Conference of the Red Cross set up an International Commission to study the Red Cross Truce. Its report, presented to the 15th International Conference in Tokyo in 1934, stated that it approved the principle of the Truce and considered it advisable that its application be made more general, from the point of view of methodology, taking into account the various cultural and social characteristics of different regions of the world.
It was only after World War II, in 1946, that the Tokyo proposal was put into effect. During the XIVth Session of the Board of Governors of the League of Red Cross Societies, later called the General Assembly of the International Federation of Red Cross Societies, the League was requested to study the possibility of adopting an international Red Cross Day, to be celebrated on the same date by all National Societies. Two years later, following approval by the Federation’s Executive Committee, Red Cross Day was celebrated for the first time throughout the world on 8 May 1948, the anniversary of the birth of Henry Dunant, the founder of the Red Cross. It subsequently changed names several times and in 1984 became “World Red Cross and Red Crescent Day”.
Despite the red cross and red crescent being intended only as neutral humanitarian emblems, on occasion, over decades, they were wrongly perceived as having religious, cultural and political connotations. Sadly this diminished the protection they offered to vulnerable people in conflict zones. The solution, endorsed by governments and the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, was the creation of a third emblem, known as the red crystal. In December 2005, at a Diplomatic Conference, the nations party to the Geneva Conventions adopted a Third Additional Protocol to the Geneva Conventions, establishing the red crystal as an emblem of protection equal in status to the cross and crescent. This resolution of the issue offers enhanced protection in regions where neither the red cross nor the red crescent emblem is accepted - and allows all nations to choose the emblem with which they are comfortable.
The Australian Red Cross harnesses the power of humanity, providing relief in times of crisis, care when it’s needed most and commitment when others turn away. Red Cross is there for people in need, no matter who these people are, no matter where they live. Tens of millions of people around the world each year and care for local communities in Australia and Asia Pacific are cared for by the Australian Red Cross. Much of the valuable work of the Red Cross is carried out by millions of volunteers worldwide and thousands of members, volunteers and supporters across Australia we can reach people and places like nobody else.