Introduction to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)

The ICRC is an independent, neutral organization ensuring humanitarian protection and assistance for victims of armed conflict and other situations of violence. It takes action in response to emergencies and at the same time promotes respect for international humanitarian law and its implementation in national law.

As our cornerstone partner, it is important we all have a good understanding of what the ICRC does and how. This collection contains some good introductory materials to help you learn more  about the incredible work of the ICRC.

1. A story of love: The story of the ICRC

A great short video that will give you a good sense of what the ICRC is about.
(6 mins)

2. Fundamental Principles: International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement


Humanity, impartiality, neutrality, independence, voluntary service, unity and universality: these seven Fundamental Principles sum up the Movement’s ethics and are at the core of its approach to helping people in need during armed conflict, natural disasters and other emergencies.

These principles unite the components of the Movement – the ICRC, the National Societies and the International Federation – and enable them to provide effective, unbiased assistance to people in need. 

This PDF is a brief overview of the fundamental principles and the relationship between the ICRC, the International Federation and the National Societies.
(10 mins)

3. The ICRC: It's mission and Work


This brochure outlines:

  • The ICRC's mission.
  • The organization itself, including its identity, legal foundations and scope of action.
  • The ICRC's varied activities and how they are implemented.

This is a very useful overview and reference text to better understand the ICRC and the work it undertakes.

4. ICRC Strategy, 2015-2018


The purpose of the ICRC’s Institutional Strategy 2015–2018 is to inform and guide the work of the organization over the next four years. It was developed on the basis of consultations with major stakeholders in ICRC action, including National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and major donors, ICRC staff at headquarters and in the field, as well as various professional circles engaged in humanitarian action.

NB: The ICRC are currently (July, 2018) finalising their strategy for 2019-2022.

5. ICRC Governance


Here is an overview of the ICRC's six governing bodies.

  1. The Assembly is the supreme governing body of the ICRC. It oversees all ICRC activities. It is a collegial body comprising between 15 and 25 co-opted Swiss nationals. Its president and vice-president are the president and vice-president of the ICRC. The Assembly formulates policy, defines general objectives and strategy, and approves the budget and accounts. It appoints key management officials, including the director-general, the directors and the head of the Internal Audit Unit.
  2. The Assembly Council is a subsidiary body of the Assembly. It prepares the Assembly's activities and takes decisions, particularly on strategic financial and human resources management issues and communication.
  3. The Office of the President is made up of a president and a vice-president. The president represents the ICRC on the international scene, bears primary responsibility for the ICRC's external relations and conducts ICRC humanitarian diplomacy in close cooperation with the Office of the Director-General. As chair of the Assembly and the Assembly Council, the president ensures that the responsibilities assigned to these two bodies remain under their control and closely monitors the running of the ICRC. The president is responsible for developing the institutional strategy and proposing it to the Assembly.

    The vice-president assists the president in carrying out his duties and substitutes for the president when he is absent or unable to carry out his duties or at his request. She is also responsible for the cohesion, smooth running and development of governance and oversight mechanisms.
  4. The Directorate is the ICRC's executive body, responsible for implementing and overseeing the institutional strategy and general objectives defined by the Assembly and the Assembly Council. The Directorate is also responsible for managing ICRC staff and ensuring the smooth running of the organization as a whole.
  5. The Internal Audit Unit is an internal oversight body, which independently and objectively monitors and assesses the organization's performance and efficiency according to recognized international standards. The Internal Audit Unit, the Directorate and the Assembly are the three components of the internal oversight system. The Assembly, aided by the Audit Commission, has ultimate responsibility for oversight.
  6. The Data Protection Commission (or DPC) is the ICRC body responsible for checking, independently of the other bodies and the Administration, that the ICRC's processing of personal data complies with its Rules on Personal Data Protection and other applicable rules, and for ruling on the rights of individuals when their cases or other data-protection cases are referred to it.


View PDF of Organization Chart


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