From the August 2005 Watchdog Report
Your Red Crosses
the International Committee of the Red Cross Disservicing America?
Many people think of the Red Cross as only one
entity. There are actually three major types of Red Cross organizations
included in the Red Cross Movement: the national Red Cross,
the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies,
and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).
The Movement's mission is to "prevent and alleviate human suffering
wherever it may be found, to protect life and health, and ensure
respect for the human being, in particular in times of armed conflict
and other emergencies, to work for the prevention of disease and
the promotion of health and social welfare...."
The American Red Cross, founded in 1881, is
the national Red Cross organization for the United States. In primarily
Islamic countries the national organizations are called Red Crescent
Societies, and in Israel the national organization is the Magen
David Adom Society. The International Federation, founded in
1919 as the League of Red Cross Societies, is an association
of over 180 national Red Cross and Red Crescent organizations.
The ICRC, founded in 1863, directs and coordinates
the emergency relief efforts of the Movement and is the only organization
authorized by the Geneva Convention to visit prisoners of war. The
ICRC also provides emergency food, water and medical help, searches
for missing people, and promotes, monitors, and develops international
humanitarian law. The ICRC's governance is by an Assembly composed
entirely of Swiss nationals. The ICRC has the authority to decide
which national organizations are allowed to join the International
Federation. The U.S. government is ICRC's largest single donor and
has funded twenty percent of its 2004 budget of $650 million.
Because of ICRC's controversial positions on a number
of issues, the Republican Policy Committee of the U.S. Senate issued
a report that questions whether the ICRC is serving American interests.
The report praises the ICRC for providing aid to hundreds of thousands
of suffering people in hot spots around the world but criticizes
it for engaging in activism that deviates from its core founding
principles of neutrality and impartiality. The report accuses the
ICRC of engaging in efforts to "reinterpret and expand international
law so as to afford terrorists and insurgents the same rights and
privileges as military personnel of States Party to the Geneva Conventions;
lobby for arms control issues [including banning anti-personnel
mines and the defensive use of tear gas by U.S. soldiers on the
battlefield] that are not within the organization's mandate; and
inaccurately and unfairly accuse the U.S. of not adhering to the
The American Institute of Philanthropy believes that
the ICRC needs to stick to its founding principles as an independent
and impartial humanitarian organization. Its activism on politically
divisive issues that may alienate some countries could be done by
many other nonprofit organizations that work on these issues, i.e.
Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. Otherwise, ICRC risks
losing the cooperation it needs to coordinate international aid
and fulfill its duties under the Geneva Convention.
The American Red Cross, which is audited annually
by the U.S. Secretary of Defense, is too closely aligned with the
U.S. Government to be viewed as an independent organization by the
rest of the world. America needs a strong and unbiased ICRC that
can provide humanitarian assistance, including the monitoring of
our captured soldiers, in countries that are hostile to U.S. interests.
Note: U.S. taxpayers who donate to the American Red
Cross may receive a charitable gift tax deduction that is not available
for donations to the International Federation or ICRC. AIP only
rates U.S. based groups, such as the American Red Cross, that follow
U.S. financial reporting rules. AIP does not rate the Geneva, Switzerland
based International Federation or ICRC.