Timeline of the ICRC


Founded, 1863

February 9, 1863

"International Committee for Relief to the Wounded" founded by Henry Dunant and Gustave Moynier, the start of the International Committee of the Red Cross.
Public Welfare Committee of Geneva convened for first time, the start of the ICRC.

Adopted Name "International Committee of the Red Cross", 1876


Adoption of Red Crescent Symbol, 1929


Peace Conventions and Edits to Original Conventions

First Geneva Convention (Protection for Wounded Soldiers), 1864

February 26, 1864 - February 29, 1864

Official Name: Amelioration of the Condition of the Wounded in Armies in the Field

The Geneva Convention is a peace treaty which proposed to make signatories provide medical attention to any wounded soldiers, regardless of which side they were on. Delegates from many independent countries attended the meeting. The meeting also agreed to use the red cross symbol to identify medical personnel on the battlefield.

Hague Convention, 1899

July 29, 1899

Contained laws for warfare, which banned certain types of weapons such as poison, poison gas, and bullets. It also created the Permanent Court of Arbitration, which resolves disputes involving large powers.

Second Geneva Convention (Extension to Sea Warfare), 1906


Official Name: Amelioration of the Condition of Wounded, Sick and Shipwrecked Members of Armed Forces at Sea

It extended the rules of the Geneva Convention to naval combat.

Second Hague Convention, 1907

October 18, 1907

Made some minor modifications to the decisions made to the Hague Convention of 1899.

Third Geneva Convention (Protection of POWs), 1929

July 27, 1929

Official Name: Convention relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War

It defined humanitarian protections for Prisoners of War.

Fourth Geneva Convention (Protection of Civilians in War), 1949

April 21, 1949 - August 12, 1949

Official Name: Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War

It defined the humanitarian protections for civilians in a war zone, and banned signatories from devoting all its resources to war.

Protocols I and II of the Geneva Conventions, 1977

June 8, 1977

Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949, and relating to the Protection of Victims of International Armed Conflicts (Protocol I), 8 June 1977. Protocol 2 relates to the protection of victims of non-international armed conflicts.

Protocol III of the Geneva Conventions, 2005


Adoption of an Additional Distinctive Emblem.
Adopted the Red Crystal Emblem as a symbol to protect medical and humanitarian personnel, along the Red Cross and Red Crescent.

Nobel Peace Prizes

Nobel Peace Prize Awarded for Outstanding Wartime Work, 1917


Nobel Peace Prize Awarded for Services to POW's, 1944


Another Nobel Peace Prize Awarded, 1963


Notable Wars and Events

World War 1, ICRC sets up POW information Agency 1914-1918

July 28, 1914 - November 11, 1918

Spanish Civil War, 1936-1939

1936 - 1939

It provided supplies and relief to victims on both sides of the Spanish Civil War.

World War 2, 1939-1945

1939 - 1945

Worked to help civilians cope with life during wartime, but was powerless to stop the German Holocaust.

Korean War 1950-1953

1950 - 1953

Since most of the countries participating in the war had not signed the Geneva Conventions, the ICRC couldn't do as much to help. The ICRC was also denied access to POW camps in this war.

Algerian Civil War, 1954-1962

1954 - 1962

Was successful at carrying out humanitarian activities in the field during and after this war.

Yemeni Civil War 1962-1968

1962 - 1968

Carried out operations in extreme and precarious conditions and treated the wounded at a field hospital.

SOS Biafra 1968-1970

1968 - 1970

Delivered vast amounts of relief goods to members of the civilian population following a Nigerian civil war.

Helping in Authoritarian Regimes, 1970-1980

1970 - 1980

Acted as a neutral intermediary between two conflicting parties. Made visits to jails, detention camps, etc. in these countries. ICRC was not always granted access to all victims.

Iran-Iraq War, 1980-1988

1980 - 1988

Helped provide clean water and basic sanitation to civilians during the war.

Made appeals to both sides to respect international humanitarian law such as the Geneva Conventions.

Helped repatriate civilians and POW's after the war.

Rwandan Massacre, 1994

April 6, 1994 - July 1994

Helped groups threatened by the genocide and people displaced by the genocide. After the conflict, ICRC helped reunite children with their families. It also provided food, essential items, drinking water, and medical care.

War on Terror, starting with 9/11

September 11, 2001 - Present

What consists of "terrorist acts" are usually banned under international humanitarian law. The ICRC had to continually step in to defend humanitarian laws, in particular, ones relating to the protection of captured civilians and soldiers. The U.S. still occupies Afghanistan to this date.