An elderly pastoralist listens to exchanges between villagers and a Red Cross assessment team in a drought-stricken area of Oromiya region in Ethiopia.Ethiopian Red Cross Society via IFRC/Yonas Mekonnen

The IFRC’s non-discrimination programme fulfils part of its mandate to help vulnerable people. The IFRC does this by helping communities fight discrimination, stigma and xenophobia, and by promoting greater social inclusion and respect for diversity.

Discrimination comes in many forms. Negative prejudicial treatment against a person or a group of people can be based on a range of characteristics, including race, religion, age, sex, caste, health and disability.

The need to fight racism, xenophobia and intolerance is all the more important today as better technology and transportation bring people into closer contact. It is often the most vulnerable – young people, the elderly, or disabled – who suffer the most discrimination.

Some may suffer lifelong discrimination because they are born into marginalized groups, for example, excluded ethnic groups or castes, or those with disabilities. Social exclusion can also be sudden – as a result of migration, illness, disaster or sudden poverty. Whatever form it takes, discrimination reduces the resilience of communities.

Our work in non-discrimination

The IFRC is the largest humanitarian network in the world and is most known for its work in saving lives in disasters and in responding to health emergencies. It also acts as an agent of social change, working both with and within communities to build bridges among different groups of people.
The IFRC principles and values department works with member National Societies, governing bodies and other partners to put our organization’s founding principles and humanitarian values into practice.

Translating our beliefs into action means:

  • cultivating mutual respect and understanding 
  • increasing access to services for vulnerable people
  • building National Societies’ abilities to inspire a shift in attitudes in communities



  • Non-discrimination and respect for diversity: a pledge by the IFRC
  • Promoting a culture of tolerance- Presentation by Dr. Katrien Beeckman, head of IFRC principles and values department, for the International Cooperation and Peace Dissemination Workshop on Psycho-social support, June 2008, Italy 
  • World Disaster Report 2007, Focus on discrimination
  • The Federation of the Future
  • Strategy 2020
  • Combating Discrimination: What role for the Red Cross? An exploratory study prepared for the IFRC principles and values department by Sobhi Tawil and Bouthaïna Azami-Tawil
  • Le rôle de la Fédération internationale des Sociétés de la Croix-Rouge et du Croissant-Rouge dans le cadre de la lutte contre le racisme, la discrimination raciale, la xénophobie et l’intolérance qui y est associée
  • Promoting respect for diversity and non-discrimination: a contribution to peace and friendship between peoples

Case studies: (versions in four languages)

  • Promoting tolerance through community-based development in Bangladesh (Document name- Case study Bangladesh)
  • Taxi drivers in San Salvador: Transporting awareness and respect for people living with HIV (Document name- Case study El Salvador)
  • Humanitarian values and reducing discrimination against people living with HIV/AIDS in Mombassa, Kenya (Document name- Case study Kenya)
  • Reducing discrimination through community-based development in Nepal (Document name- Case study Nepal)
  • Humanitarian values and reducing discrimination against people living with HIV and AIDS in Uganda (Document name- Case study Uganda)

External resources:
Human rights organizations
United Nations

Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCHR)
Discrimination Against Women
Nationality, Statelessness, Asylum and Refugees
Religious Belief
Other forms of Discrimination

Council of Europe
Human Rights Section
National minorities
Combating racism
Equality between women and men

Amnesty International
Human Rights Watch:

International Center for Human Rights and Democratic Development

• Related Links - Racial discrimination
United Nations
United Nations High Commission for Human Rights (UNHCHR) main page on racism

United Nations World Conference Against Racism- Many resources and reference texts concerning racism, racial discrimination and related intolerance
Council of Europe
European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI)  - A committee composed of independent members active in the fight against racism and intolerance from the Council of Europe bodies together with NGOs.

American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee

Related sites, in French
Ligue Internationale Contre le Racisme et l'Antisémitisme (LICRA)
SOS Racisme

• Related links: Discrimination against women

United Nations

International Labour Office (ILO) Gender Equality Pages
UNIFEM - United Nations Development Fund for Women

Council of Europe
Gender Equality

Human Rights Watch page on women's rights

• Related links: refugees, internally displaced persons and asylum-seekers

United Nations
UN High Commissioner for Refugees

Council of Europe

Main page on population and social cohesion


European Council on Refugees and Exiles - ECRE is an umbrella organization of 72 refugee-assisting agencies in 28 countries working towards fair and humane policies for the treatment of asylum-seekers and refugees
Refugees International
Human Rights Watch page on Refugees, Migrants, Internally Displaced People
International Rescue Committee

• Related links: minorities
United Nations

UNHCHR main page on minorities
Council of Europe
Main page on minorities

• Related links: Health and HIV and AIDS
International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies

Global action against HIV and AIDS-related stigma and discrimination

United Nations

Advocacy and meetings

• World Conference on Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related intolerance, in Geneva. Statement by Dr. Katrien Beeckman, head of IFRC principles and values department. 
For more information on the Durban review conference see:
• Promoting a culture of Tolerance
Statement by Dr Katrien Beeckman, head of the IFRC’s principles and values department at the International Cooperation and Peace Dissemination Workshop on Psychosocial support, June 2008, Italy (Document name- Tolerance ItRCJunefinalforposting.doc)
• Racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related forms of intolerance: follow up to and implementation of the Durban Declaration
Statement by Katherine Bundra, IFRC research associate, at the United Nations Human Rights Council, in Geneva

• International March against Stigma, Discrimination and Homophobia
Speech by Dr Raymond Forde, IFRC vice-president, at the First International March against Stigma, Discrimination and Homophobia, in Mexico City, August 2008

• Rights of Persons with Disabilities
Statement by Michael Schulz, IFRC Deputy Permanent Observer to the United Nations, in the Third Committee of the UN General Assembly, in New York

• Inter-religious and intercultural understanding
Statement by Michael Schulz, IFRC Deputy Permanent Observer to the United Nations, in the UN General Assembly High Level Dialogue on inter-religious and intercultural understanding and cooperation for peace, in New York

• Culture of Peace: Respect for Diversity
Speech by Mr Michael Schulz, IFRC Deputy Permanent Observer to the United Nations, in the Plenary of the UN General Assembly, in New York

National Society activities
• Australian Red Cross

o Asylum Seeker Assistance Scheme (ASAS)

• British Red Cross
o Refugee Emergency Response
o Positive Images

• Finnish Red Cross
o Alongside with immigrants

• French Red Cross
o Foreign population assistance

• Spanish Red Cross
• Exposición “Aprende a mirar de cerca” (Exhibition - Learn to look closely)

• Red Interlabor@ - labour actions for migrant people

• CRE - Annual report on social vulnerability, 2006

• Eneas-2-Equal project for asylum seekers,12079476&_dad=portal30&_schema=PORTAL30

• Buenas prácticas de inclusion social (Good practices of social inclusion)

• Investigación en inclusion social (Researching in social inclusion),12331799&_dad=portal30&_schema=PORTAL30
• Red Cross Youth – La Diversidad Nuestra Mejor Opción,12689166&_dad=portal30&_schema=PORTAL30

• Swedish Red Cross
o Quick response

• Swiss Red Cross
o Refugee services

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is the world's largest humanitarian organization, with 189 member National Societies. As part of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, our work is guided by seven fundamental principles; humanity, impartiality, neutrality, independence, voluntary service, unity and universality. About this site & copyright