Why do some countries use cross and some countries use crescent?

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies uses two globally recognized emblems – red cross and red crescent – set on a white background within a red rectangle. The IFRC's member National Societies use one or other of these emblems – either the cross or the crescent.

These are symbols of assistance in times of conflict or disaster, and have worldwide recognition, and protection, in national and international law under the 1949 Geneva Conventions.

In some conflicts, the cross or the crescent has been interpreted as having a religious significance. Neither emblem has a religious significance, but some countries feel more comfortable using one rather than the other.

In 2006, the red crystal became a third approved emblem that can be used by National Societies if they have difficulty with either the red cross or the red crescent because of perceptions that they may have religious significance.


La Fédération internationale des Sociétés de la Croix-Rouge et du Croissant-Rouge constitue, avec ses 190 Sociétés nationales membres, le plus vaste réseau humanitaire du monde. En tant que membres du Mouvement international de la Croix-Rouge et du Croissant-Rouge, nous sommes guidés dans notre travail par sept Principes fondamentaux: humanité, impartialité, neutralité, indépendance, volontariat, unité et universalité.