The Legal Status of the Red Cross

Red Cross is a term well known in the world at large; so is the heraldic emblem of the red cross on a white background. Many people in many lands use them to indicate and symbolize a variety of humanitarian purposes, principles and services. When the term is used as a proper name, generally it identifies an organization which is lawfully authorized to carry out those purposes and services under that name. Organizations by that name have been accorded exclusive authority to carry out the given humanitarian programs, exclusive authority to use the words, whether as a proper name or otherwise, and exclusive authority to use the emblem consisting of the red cross on the white ground. These delegations of exclusive authority and attending obligations derive from national legislation in the several countries and from international conventions to which nearly all of the governments of the civilized world are parties.