Henry Dunant, author of “A Memory of Solferino” and founder of the International Committee of the Red Cross.
In June 1859, the Swiss Henry Dunant traveled to Italy with the intention to meet Emperor Napoleon III of France, and discuss the difficulties he had to do business in Algeria, recently invaded by Napoleon III.
As Dunant passed through the small town of Solferino, June 24, he founded the bloody battle fought by the French and Austrian troops. In a single day more than 40,000 soldiers were killed. That was a slaughter perplexed Dunant by the scale of the carnage and the lack of care for the injured. He returned to Geneva and wrote a book titled "A Memory of Solferino", which he published with his own money and distributed to European leaders.
Original document of the first Geneva Convention, 1864.
Together with other four well-to-do swiss entrepreneurial leaders, Henry Dunant founded the "Committee of the Five" on 9 February 1863, in Geneva, Switzerland. Eight days later, the five men decided to rename the committee to the "International Committee for Relief to the Wounded".
The Red Cross in action in 1864
Since its founding in 1863, the only goal of the ICRC has been to provide protection and assistance to victims of conflict and armed confrontations. It does this by direct realization of activities around the world as well as by promoting the development of international humanitarian law (IHL), and promoting respect for this body of law on the part of governments and arms carriers.
The International Committee of the Red Cross and Red Crescent is the first international non-governmental organization with humanitarian and privately funded. Red Crescent was introduced to meet the needs and desires of Islamic countries that have nothing to do with crosses.
Among the proposals written in the final resolutions of the conference, adopted on 29 October 1863, were:
· The foundation of national relief societies for wounded soldiers;
· Neutrality and protection for wounded soldiers;
· The utilization of volunteer forces for relief assistance on the battlefield;
· The organization of additional conferences to enact these concepts in legally binding international treaties; and
· The introduction of a common distinctive protection symbol for medical personnel in the field, namely a white armlet bearing a red cross.