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Impartiality at the heart of Red Cross humanitarian action 

15 April 2024

Since its foundation, the Red Cross has embodied a universal humanitarian ideal, where every individual, whatever their nationality, religion or social condition, can find assistance and comfort. At the heart of this mission is the unshakeable principle of impartiality.   

Helping and supporting everyone equally 

This principle, which has been included in the preamble to the Statutes of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement since 1986, embodies the essential idea that humanitarian aid must be provided without distinction as to nationality, race, religion, social condition or political affiliation. At the heart of this principle is the ethical conviction that all people, whatever their background, have equal rights and deserve fair assistance.   

The principle of impartiality in practice

For example, it would be contrary to this principle to design relief programmes exclusively for women because of their gender. However, if certain women find themselves in situations of heightened vulnerability, such as lack of access to education or specific care, special attention must be paid to them. In this way, impartiality guides humanitarian action not only towards equity in the distribution of aid, but also towards a fair adaptation to the individual circumstances of those who need it most. 

Impartiality at the Heart of Humanitarian Action   

In putting the principle of impartiality into practice, the Red Cross is committed to providing humanitarian assistance without distinction, whether in times of peace, conflict or unrest. This impartiality ensures that aid is allocated on the basis of the real needs of individuals and communities, thereby helping to relieve suffering and promote human dignity. This can also lead the Red Cross to provide humanitarian aid (care, food, etc.) to the wounded and vulnerable on opposing sides of a conflict. In a world where there are many confrontations, impartiality remains an essential pillar of humanitarian action, testifying to the Red Cross’s unwavering commitment to the principles of humanity and universal justice.   

Would you like to find out more about the values of the Red Cross? Discover the principle of Humanity