ICRC databases on international humanitarian law
Treaties and Documents
1949 Conventions and Additional Protocols, and their Commentaries
Historical Treaties and Documents
Protocol additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949, and relating to the Adoption of an Additional Distinctive Emblem (Protocol III), 8 December 2005
International Committee of the Red Cross and International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies
Article 4 - International Committee of the Red Cross and International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies
, paragraph 3, of the First Geneva Convention permits the international Red Cross organizations and their duly authorized personnel to make use, at all times, of the emblem of the red cross. A similarly worded previous draft of Additional Protocol III authorized the international components of the Movement to avail themselves of the third Protocol emblem whenever it seemed necessary.
However, Article 4
as it now stands follows a different logic. It must be read in conjunction with the last paragraph of the preamble (which did not appear in previous versions) expressing the determination of the ICRC, the International Federation and the Movement to retain their current names and distinctive emblems. In this context, Article 4
nevertheless authorizes these components to use the red crystal subject to two of the cumulative conditions already spelled out in Article 3
, paragraph 3, namely that the circumstances must be exceptional and that such use must facilitate their work.
There are, however, differences in the conditions for the exceptional use of the Third Protocol emblem by National Societies (in Article 3
, paragraph 3) and by the ICRC and the International Federation (in Article 4). Indeed, Article 3
, paragraph 3, refers to a "temporary use" by National Societies, a condition which the ICRC and the Federation do not have to meet, according to Article 4. In addition, Article 4
does not stipulate the obligation to respect the national legislation.