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 the creation of another Red Cross or 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.).