Monday, August 22, 2011
What international body was created at the first Geneva conference Aug. 22, 1864?
On Aug. 22, 1864, 12 nations sign the first Geneva Convention, also known as the Red Cross Convention, to improve the aid given to sick and wounded in war zones. The convention officially establishes the International Red Cross, and sets as its symbol a red cross on a white background thereafter the internationally recognized emblem for nonpartisan medical care. The convention’s principles mandate that medical workers must provide relief for wounded soldiers without distinguishing nationality, and ensures the neutrality of and protection for, medical workers bearing the Red Cross emblem. The organization that eventually becomes known as the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), is founded by businessman Jean-Henri Dunant in Geneva, Switzerland, a year prior to the signing of the first Geneva Convention. Dunant, who is later awarded the first Nobel Peace Prize for his work, decides to establish the committee after witnessing the aftermath of a bloody battle between French and Austrian armies in northern Italy in 1859.
Today, according to ICRC’s website, the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement is the largest humanitarian network in the world, with a presence in every country and the support of millions of volunteers. Recently, the Red Cross and Red Crescent provided emergency relief and on-the-ground reports in places of international concern, including Somalia, Haiti, and Libya. Last Friday, ICRC officials told Reuters that Syria may soon grant it access to Syrian prisons, a development that comes on the heels of strong international condemnation of the country’s violent crackdown on pro-democracy protests. In other related news, the ICRC’s Council of the Assembly last June, officially adopted a policy on torture to protect victims and help them heal from torture and build social institutions to prevent it.