Over 190 States have adopted the red cross or the red crescent but, unfortunately, these emblems can be perceived as having religious or political significance in certain contexts. Lengthy discussions within the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement led to the development of an additional emblem, known as the red crystal.
A diplomatic conference, held in Geneva from 5 to 7 December 2005, adopted Protocol III additional to the Geneva Conventions, thereby recognizing the additional emblem. From now on, the medical services of armies and all National Societies may use the red crystal on its own for protective purposes. If they so wish, National Societies may incorporate within the red crystal, for indicative use only, a cross or a crescent, the two side by side, or any other sign that is in use and has been communicated to the depositary State of the Geneva Conventions (Switzerland) and the ICRC, for instance the red shield of David.
In addition, the medical services of armies and National Societies may make temporary use of the red crystal alone, if they believe this will enhance their protection. Studies have shown that the red crystal has no religious, political or ethnic connotations, which should guarantee respect for those who adopt it.