The ICRC, established in 1863, works worldwide to provide humanitarian help for people affected by conflict and armed violence and to promote the laws that protect victims of war. An independent and neutral organization, its mandate stems essentially from the Geneva Conventions of 1949. Based in Geneva, Switzerland, it employs some 12,000 people in 80 countries; it is financed mainly by voluntary donations from governments and from national Red Cross and Red Crescent societies.
During situations of conflict, the ICRC is responsible for directing and coordinating the Movement’s international relief activities. It also promotes the importance of international humanitarian law and draws attention to universal humanitarian principles.
As the custodian of the Geneva Conventions, the ICRC has a permanent mandate under international law to visit prisons, organize relief operations, reunite separated families and undertake other humanitarian activities during armed conflicts. The ICRC also works to meet the needs of internally displaced persons, raise public awareness of the dangers of mines and explosive remnants of war and trace people who have gone missing during conflicts.
The ICRC’s headquarters are in Geneva, Switzerland, and the organization has more than 12,000 staff in 80 countries around the globe. About 30 per cent of the ICRC’s operational activities are carried out in cooperation with National Societies.
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