The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, in which all Societies have equal status and share equal responsibilities and duties in helping each other, is worldwide.
Analysis of the Fundamental principle of Universality
The text under the Fundamental principle of Universality includes the following elements:
- the Movement is worldwide;
- all Societies have equal status in the Movement;
- all Societies share equal responsibilities and duties in helping each other.
Consequences of the Fundamental principle of Universality
The consequences of the principle of Universality are threefold:
- one of the objectives of the Movement is to become universal, since it is one of the Movement’s strengths that it has a National Society in almost every country of the world. There are a number of States which so far do not have a recognised National Society. However, this is to be seen as a temporary situation: once obstacles preventing Societies of those States to be recognised are lifted, the Movement will become truly global;
- solidarity between National Societies, which is the basis for cooperation between Societies;
- with regard to decision-making, all Societies carry one vote at the Federation’s General Assembly, the Council of Delegates and the International Conference, irrelevant of their size or wealth.
There can be only one Red Cross or one Red Crescent Society in any one country. It must be open to all. It must carry on its humanitarian work throughout its territory.
Analysis of the Fundamental principle of Unity
The text under the Fundamental principle of Unity are threefold – each aspect directly matches each sentence of that principle’s text; these aspects are also included in the conditions for recognition of National Societies by the ICRC:
- there can be only one Red Cross or one Red Crescent Society in any one country;
- a National Society must be open to all;
- a National Society must carry on its humanitarian work throughout its territory.
Consequences of the Fundamental principle of Unity
The consequences of the principle of Unity are quite easy to analyse from the text:
- a National Society could oppose to the creation of another Red Cross of Red Crescent Society in its country. As States have agreed to Fundamental Principles, they have an obligation to ensure that no other Society can be created on their territory if they have already recognised a National Society;
- a National Society has to open its membership to a broad base in the population. It has to recruit its members from all the ethnic, social and other groups in the country to ensure better efficiency of its action. In any case, any discrimination in the recruitment of members would be a violation of the principle of Unity;.
- a National Society has to be active in all parts of the country. This does not necessarily mean that the level of activities has to be the same country-wide: the principle of Impartiality may well justify that more activities are undertaken in the parts of a country where the needs are the largest. But what it prohibits is that a region is excluded from the activities of a National Society in a discriminatory manner (e.g. for reasons related with religion, ethnicity, etc.).
It is a voluntary relief movement not prompted in any manner by desire for gain.
Analysis of the Fundamental principle of Voluntary service
The text under the Fundamental principle of Voluntary service includes the following elements:
- the Movement is a voluntary relief movement;
- the Movement is not prompted in any manner by desire for gain.
Consequences of the Fundamental principle of Voluntary service
The consequences of the principle of Voluntary service are as follows:
- the Movement is a volunteer-based organisation;
- if the Movement fails to recognize the value of voluntary it is in danger of becoming bureaucratic, losing touch with a vital source of motivation, inspiration and initiative, and of cutting off the roots which maintain its contact with human needs and enable it to meet them;
- Voluntary service, a source of economy. Imagine how much suffering would have to be neglected, for lack of means, if all the work done by volunteers had to be paid for. It is sometimes sufficient to have a relatively small but motivated support staff, with the necessary minimum of financial resources, to enable volunteers to render community services whose cost could never be borne either by the National Society or by the State.
The Movement is independent. The National Societies, while auxiliaries in the humanitarian services of their governments and subject to the laws of their respective countries, must always maintain their autonomy so that they may be able at all times to act in accordance with the principles of the Movement.
Analysis of the Fundamental principle of Independence
The text under the Fundamental principle of Independence includes the following elements:
- a strong general statement that, as a matter of principle, the Movement is independent;
- more detailed explanations on the specific case of National Societies regarding independence: this puts the focus on the balance between, on the one hand, their status as auxiliary to public authorities in the humanitarian field and their submission to national law, and on the other hand, the need to maintain their autonomy.
Consequences of the Fundamental Principle of Independence
The consequences of the principle of Independence are
- independence is one of the key elements that the Movement wants to maintain, despite the fact that no concrete consequences are explicitly defined by the principle itself. In its broadest sense, the principle of independence is understood as meaning that the Red Cross and Red Crescent must resist any interference, whether political, ideological or economic, capable of diverting it from the course of action laid down by the requirements of humanity, impartiality and neutrality;
- the need for National Societies to enjoy a status allowing them to act at all times in accordance with the principles of the Movement. This has consequences on the legal status of National Societies in their country, their relations to public authorities, etc. The degree of autonomy necessary to a National Society cannot be defined uniformly and absolutely, since it depends partly on the political, economic and social conditions in the country. It must be free to relinquish certain tasks or to change its priorities in accordance with the material and human resources at its disposal. Its role as auxiliary to the public authorities does not in the least prevent a National Society from freely choosing the activities it carries out completely independently of the State.
- The violation of the Fundamental Principle of Independence is often perceived as a serious threat to the integrity of a National Society. However, the debate on the independence of the Movement is broader than the question of the relationship between public authorities and a National Society, although that last aspect is a very important one.
In order to continue to enjoy the confidence of all, the Movement may not take sides in hostilities or engage at any time in controversies of a political, racial, religious or ideological nature.
Analysis of the Fundamental Principle of Neutrality
The text under the Fundamental principle of Neutrality includes three elements:
- the purpose of complying with the principle of Neutrality is to enjoy the confidence of all. Implicitly, this compliance with the principle of Neutrality is also a condition for operational efficiency, which requires confidence of all in many contexts, i.e. not only in armed conflicts contexts;
- the principle of Neutrality prohibits a component of the Movement from taking part in hostilities;
- the principle of Neutrality prohibits the Movement from engaging at any time in controversies of a political, racial, religious or ideological nature.
Consequences of the Fundamental principle of Neutrality
The consequences of the principle of Neutrality are the following:Sumer
- neutrality implies not acting in a way that could facilitate the conduct of hostilities by any of the parties involved. The role of National Societies as auxiliaries to public authorities in the humanitarian field when they assist medical services of armed forces – i.e. when they fulfill the initial function of National Societies – should not be seen as taking part in hostilities;
- the neutrality includes many dimensions. Only the day-to-day acts and words of a National Society can constitute an evidence of its respect of the principle of Neutrality. For instance, if a National Society branch expresses sympathy for a movement, a cause or a political figure, for example by permitting the latter to take advantage of Red Cross or Red Crescent membership for electoral purposes, many volunteers may cancel their membership. If a dispensary run by a National Society also displays a religious affiliation in a country in which there is tension between the members of different faiths, many patients will no longer wish or dare to come for treatment. In other words, neutrality is a state of mind, an attitude which must guide every step taken by the Movement’s components;
- due to the character of communication today, the violation of the principle of Neutrality by a component of the Movement can easily affect the image of other components and, thus, their ability to work in a given context. Therefore, the principle of Neutrality is to be seen in a global perspective.