IFRC


Q&A

Who could modify the text of the Fundamental Principles? 

The text of the Fundamental Principles is included in the Statutes of the Movement. Therefore, if the text of the Fundamental Principles were to be modified, a modification of the Statutes of the Movement would be necessary. As a consequence, the International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent would have to decide on this matter, because the Statutes of the Movement are adopted by the Conference. 

What are the factors on which discrimination could be based? 

There are many possible factors for discrimination: gender, age, race, colour, language, religion or belief, political or other opinion, national, ethnic or social origin, wealth, birth, etc. The fact that the Principle of Impartiality does not include all of these criteria does not mean that a difference of treatment based on any of these criteria is justified: it would indeed be discrimination and therefore a violation of the Principle of Impartiality. 

When a National society is acting as auxiliary to the medical services of armed forces, is it a violation of the Principle of Neutrality? 

If the acts are only of a medical nature it is not a violation. However, it does raise the issue of the image of the National Society in such a case, especially in the context of a civil war. By undertaking those functions, a National Society may not be seen as being neutral, therefore putting its volunteers and staff at risk. This is why it is of the utmost importance that all parties in a conflict understand and respect the humanitarian role of a National Society. 

Is the question of Red Cross Red Crescent 'independance' only related to the relationship between its components and States? 

No, this is a much broader issue. The independence of the Red Cross Red Crescent is also related to its independence vis-à-vis other forms of power, whether religious, political, economic, etc. So the Red Cross Red Crescent needs to be independent from religions, political parties, companies and so on. 

Does the Principle of Voluntary Service mean that no Red Cross Red Crescent person should be paid for their work? 

No, it does not. The word "volunteer" refers to someone who works of his or her own free will, without external compulsion – and not necessarily someone who is not paid. Whether it is done without pay or with some form of acknowledgement or even modest remuneration, the main thing is that it is not inspired by the desire for financial gain but by individual commitment and devotion to the humanitarian purpose, freely chosen or accepted as part of the service that the Red Cross and Red Crescent render to the community. 

Why is there only one National Society in a given country? 

There are several reasons for this:

  • Efficiency of work - this could be diminished if two or more Societies were to co-exist in a given country; 
  • Focus - two or more Societies may focus in a disorganised manner on the same priorities, while forgetting other fields, and have different modes of operation;
  • Risk of confusion in the public mind - difficulties could arise when attempting to decide which Society would be the one to be represented at the international level; 
  • Representation - there could be a risk that each of these Societies would come to represent different communities within the country, thus not building bridges between communities.


The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is the world's largest humanitarian organization, with 190 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