Digitalizing the Red Cross, Red Crescent and Red Crystal Emblems
As societies digitalize, cyber operations are becoming a reality of armed conflict. A growing number of states are developing military cyber capabilities, and their use during armed conflicts is likely to increase. The ICRC has warned against the potential human cost of cyber operations, and in particular, the vulnerability of the medical sector and humanitarian organizations to cyber operations. Both having been targeted in recent years.
Against this background, the ICRC decided to investigate the idea of reflecting the internationally recognized distinctive red cross, red crescent and red crystal emblems in the information and communication technology (ICT), i.e. 'digital emblem'. Since 2020, the ICRC has partnered with research institutions to explore the technological feasibility of developing a 'digital emblem' and convened a global group of experts to assess its potential, benefits and risks.
The idea and objective of a 'digital emblem' are straightforward: for over 150 years, the distinctive emblems have been used to convey a simple message: in times of armed conflict, those who wear them, or facilities and objects marked with them, must be protected against harm.
Based on this 2-year research and consultation process, the report presents the main benefits, risks and challenges associated with a 'digital emblem', an initial assessment of different technical solutions and possible ways forward.
The publication of this new report is the first step in a series of conversations and consultations that the ICRC plans to conduct with States and other stakeholders on developing a possible 'digital emblem'.