The Movement is independent. The National Societies, while auxiliaries in the humanitarian services of their governments and subject to the laws of their respective countries, must always maintain their autonomy so that they may be able at all times to act in accordance with the principles of the Movement.

Analysis of the Fundamental principle of Independence
The text under the Fundamental principle of Independence includes the following elements:

  • a strong general statement that, as a matter of principle, the Movement is independent;

  • more detailed explanations on the specific case of National Societies regarding independence: this puts the focus on the balance between, on the one hand, their status as auxiliary to public authorities in the humanitarian field and their submission to national law, and on the other hand, the need to maintain their autonomy.

Consequences of the Fundamental Principle of Independence
The consequences of the principle of Independence are:
  • independence is one of the key elements that the Movement wants to maintain, despite the fact that no concrete consequences are explicitly defined by the principle itself. In its broadest sense, the principle of independence is understood as meaning that the Red Cross and Red Crescent must resist any interference, whether political, ideological or economic, capable of diverting it from the course of action laid down by the requirements of humanity, impartiality and neutrality;

  • the need for National Societies to enjoy a status allowing them to act at all times in accordance with the principles of the Movement. This has consequences on the legal status of National Societies in their country, their relations to public authorities, etc. The degree of autonomy necessary to a National Society cannot be defined uniformly and absolutely, since it depends partly on the political, economic and social conditions in the country. It must be free to relinquish certain tasks or to change its priorities in accordance with the material and human resources at its disposal. Its role as auxiliary to the public authorities does not in the least prevent a National Society from freely choosing the activities it carries out completely independently of the State.

  • The violation of the Fundamental Principle of Independence is often perceived as a serious threat to the integrity of a National Society. However, the debate on the independence of the Movement is broader than the question of the relationship between public authorities and a National Society, although that last aspect is a very important one.