Our Fundamental Principles

Humanity, impartiality, neutrality, independence, voluntary service, unity and universality: these are the Fundamental Principles that guide and define our work.  

In Tovuz, the ICRC and the Red Crescent Society of Azerbaijan organize sessions to teach people about risk awareness and safe behaviour

The seven Fundamental Principles guiding our work

Humanity, impartiality, neutrality, independence, voluntary service, unity and universality: these seven Fundamental Principles are an ethical, operational and institutional framework that underpin the work of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. They are at the heart of the Movement’s humanitarian activities to help people in need during armed conflict, natural disasters and other emergencies.

These principles unite the components of the Movement – the ICRC, National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and the IFRC – and are key to our distinct identity. Adhering to these principles ensures the exclusively humanitarian nature of the Movement’s work and brings consistency to the broad range of activities it undertakes around the world.


The Movement, born of a desire to bring assistance without discrimination to the wounded on the battlefield, endeavours – in its international and national capacities – to prevent and alleviate human suffering wherever it may be found. Our purpose is to protect life and health, and to ensure respect for the human being. We promote mutual understanding, friendship, cooperation and lasting peace among all peoples.


The Movement makes no discrimination as to nationality, race, religious beliefs, class or political opinions. We endeavour to relieve the suffering of individuals, being guided solely by their needs, and to give priority to the most urgent cases of distress.


In order to continue to enjoy the confidence of all, the Movement may not take sides in hostilities or engage at any time in controversies of a political, racial, religious or ideological nature.


The Movement is independent. National Societies, while auxiliaries in the humanitarian services of their governments and subject to the laws of their respective countries, must always maintain their autonomy so that they may be able at all times to act in accordance with the principles of the Movement.

Voluntary service

The Movement is a voluntary relief movement not prompted in any manner by desire for gain.


There can be only one Red Cross or one Red Crescent Society in any one country. It must be open to all. It must carry on its humanitarian work throughout its territory.


The Movement, in which all National Societies have equal status and share equal responsibilities and duties in helping each other, is worldwide.

Frequently asked questions

  • Our mission is to protect the lives and dignity of those affected by armed conflict and to provide them with assistance, such as food and clean water, health care and shelter. We also work to prevent and alleviate the suffering of those affected by other situations of violence, such as internal disturbances and tensions.

  • We promote humanitarian values and principles through our advocacy and awareness-raising efforts. We work to raise awareness about the impact of armed conflicts on civilians, advocate for the rights and protection of vulnerable people, and foster respect for international humanitarian law among states, armed groups and other relevant actors. We also engage in dialogue and cooperation with governments and non-state actors to promote the integration of humanitarian principles into policy and practice.

  • Neutrality is a fundamental principle that guides our work. It means that the ICRC maintains a neutral stance and that we do not take sides in armed conflicts or political disputes. This is how we are able to provide humanitarian assistance to people who need help at the front line.