A red balloon listing the principles of the Red Cross on top of each other.

The principles of the Red Cross

Photo: Maria T. Lehtman / Suomen Punainen Risti

The operations of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement are steered by seven fundamental principles: humanity, impartiality, neutrality, independence, voluntary service, universality and unity.

These principles have also steered the work of the Finnish Red Cross for over 50 years.  

The Red Cross promotes mutual understanding, friendship, cooperation and lasting peace amongst all people. 


Preventing and alleviating human suffering in any way possible is the main mission and goal of the operations of the Red Cross. Its purpose is to protect human life and health and to ensure respect for the human being. It promotes mutual understanding, friendship, cooperation and lasting peace amongst all people.


The Red Cross makes no discrimination as to nationality, religious beliefs, race, political opinions, or class. It endeavours 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 Red Cross may not take sides in hostilities or engage at any time in controversies of a political, religious, ethnic or ideological nature.


The Red Cross Movement is independent. The 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 Red Cross.

Voluntary service

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


The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement is worldwide. All its national Societies have equal status and share equal responsibilities and duties in helping each other.


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

The red cross is a symbol that protects
The Red Cross symbol