It makes no discrimination as to nationality, race, religious beliefs, class or political opinions. It endeavours to relieve the suffering of individuals, being guided solely by their needs, and to give priority to the most urgent cases of distress.

Analysis of the Fundamental Principle of Impartiality
The text under the Fundamental Principle of Impartiality includes the following elements:

  • the Movement makes no discrimination - and this does not apply only to people it assists or protects. Non-discrimination is the refusal to apply distinctions of an adverse nature to human beings simply because they belong to a specific category. This does not exclude differences in the treatment given to people placed in different situations on the basis of, for example, sex or age. Five criteria which could lead to discrimination are mentioned: nationality, race, religious beliefs, class or political opinions. However, other factors which may lead to a discrimination are not mentioned. Depending on circumstances, a different treatment based on sex may be a discrimination or not.

  • all those in need shall be helped, yet to treat everyone in the same way without taking into account how much they are suffering, or how urgent their needs are, would not be equitable. Impartiality means that, for the Movement, the only priority that can be set in dealing with those who require help must be based on need, and the order in which available aid is shared out must correspond to the urgency of the distress it is intended to relieve.

Consequences of the Fundamental principle of Impartiality
The consequences of the principle of Impartiality are as follows:
  • it establishes one of its key values: non-discrimination, which is one of the most important elements of all aspects of the protection of the human being: human rights law, humanitarian law, refugee law.
  • although the need to "enjoy the confidence of all" is mentioned about the principle of Neutrality, this also applies to the principle of Impartiality. Only an impartial action can give the image of an organization that can be trusted by people to be assisted or protected. Therefore, systems have to be put in place to ensure that the people benefitting from the action of the Red Cross and Red Crescent are those whose vulnerability is the highest.
  • impartiality in its true sense requires that subjective distinctions be set aside. To illustrate the difference between the two notions: a National Society that refuses to provide its services to a specific group of people, because of their ethnic origin, fails to observe the rule of non-discrimination; whereas a National Society staff member who, in the exercise of his functions, favours a friend by giving him better treatment than that given to others, contravenes the principle of impartiality. Therefore, staff and volunteers should be trained to ensure that correct behaviour becomes almost a reflex.

Related links
Reducing Discrimination Initiative