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:
Consequences of the Fundamental principle of Neutrality
- 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.
The consequences of the principle of Neutrality are the following:
- 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.