ICRC policy documents

Policy documents ensure that the ICRC is consistent over time and that we are predictable and credible in our work.

These documents, adopted by the ICRC Assembly, take into account the external environment and are based on:

  • the practice, history and statutes of the ICRC;
  • international humanitarian law;
  • The Fundamental Principles and the statutes and resolutions of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement.

The ICRC: its mission and work (2009)
An overview of the ICRC and its specific identity:

  • Mandate
  • Legal basis
  • Scope of action
  • Approaches and working methods

This document describes our activities, our multidisciplinary approach and how we interact with the other components of the Movement and the humanitarian world.

* * *

The ICRC’s role in situations of violence below the threshold of armed conflict (2014)

  •  Definition of the “other situations of violence” that fall within the ICRC’s field of action: situations in which violence is perpetrated collectively but which are below the threshold of armed conflict.

  • The criteria that must be met for the ICRC to conduct a humanitarian operation in such situations. In an armed conflict, the ICRC is always determined to act, on the basis of its mandate under international humanitarian law. In other situations of violence, however, the ICRC acts on the basis of its right of humanitarian initiative under the Statutes of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. Whether we become involved or not depends on a number of criteria.

 * * *

Action by the ICRC in the event of violations of international humanitarian law or of other fundamental rules protecting persons in situations of violence (2005)
How the ICRC responds to violations of international humanitarian law and other rules protecting people during situations of violence.

When violations occur, the ICRC's preferred mode of action is persuasion, which involves confidential dialogue with the authorities responsible. However, the document also outlines the measures that the ICRC can take when bilateral dialogue is unsuccessful. In particular, the ICRC may resort to mobilization or public denunciation under certain conditions.

* * *

 The ICRC’s confidential approach (2012)
ICRC engages in confidential dialogue with State and non-State authorities, especially those directly responsible for compliance with international humanitarian law and other rules protecting people in situations of violence.

 The confidential approach has been part of the ICRC’s identity for decades. Today, it is under debate in an international environment where openness is demanded.

 This document clarifies what our "confidential approach" means, and where its limits lie.

  See also

* * * 

 ICRC protection policy (2008)
Topics covered:

 Key notions, framework for action
The ICRC’s protection framework and operational guidelines
ICRC protection activities

  •  activities targeting those responsible for violations, with the aim of reducing the threat and improving protection – promotion and development of the law, bilateral dialogue, etc.
  • measures to reduce vulnerability and exposure to violence – detention visits, restoring family links, etc.;
  • specific considerations related to the various categories of beneficiary.

* * *

ICRC assistance policy (2004)
In an acute crisis, the ICRC can act rapidly and effectively, preventing events occurring that would be disastrous in humanitarian terms.

During chronic crises and post-crisis situations, we are able to meet certain essential needs.

 The guidance in this policy aims to:

  •  ensure a professional, coherent and integrated approach;
  • clarify and affirm the position of assistance work;
  • serve as a reference framework for drafting guidelines covering specific areas of assistance.

* * *

ICRC prevention policy (2010)
In line with its mandate, the ICRC endeavours to prevent the suffering caused by armed conflict, notably through the promotion of international humanitarian law.

The prevention policy offers guidelines for carrying out prevention work. It discusses approaches, principles, criteria and strategic considerations regarding prevention activities, together with ‘best practices.’

* * *

Policy on ICRC cooperation with National Societies (2003)
The ICRC views cooperation with National Societies and their International Federation as important to fulfilling its own mandate and essential to accomplishing the Movement's mission.

 The aim of the ICRC’s cooperation with National Societies is to promote greater efficiency in the Movement’s activities by:

  • strengthening in peacetime the National Societies’ capacity to take action and provide services in time of conflict;
  • promoting operational interaction in responding to conflicts, in order to maximize the various strengths of the Movement and benefit those affected.

* * * 

ICRC policy on torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment inflicted on persons deprived of their liberty (2011)
This document presents the measures that the ICRC takes against torture and against cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.

These measures form part of the ICRC’s work in places of detention, and are based on our knowledge and analysis of the factors and detention regimes involved in such practices.

The objective of our responses is to protect, assist and rehabilitate the victims of these wrongful acts.

* * *

Do wars ever end? The work of the International Committee of the Red Cross when the guns fall silent (2003)
The transition period following the end of an armed conflict is often delicate and difficult. This article explores how the ICRC addresses the varied needs of the population during these transition periods.

 * * *

See also:

 Fundamental Principles


Other reference documents