The Red Cross and Red Crescent has seven fundamental principles that guide all of our decisions and programs. These principles are humanity, impartiality, neutrality, independence, voluntary service, unity and universality. Today we’re taking a closer look at the principle of independence.

What does independence mean to the Red Cross and Red Crescent?

Red Cross volunteers meet before greeting refugees arriving in CanadaSimply put, it means that while we work with governments when it comes to humanitarian issues, and of course are bound by the laws of the countries we work in, we always keep our autonomy so that we can act according to our principles.  

Why is independence important to the Red Cross and Red Crescent?

The principle of independence is key to upholding our other fundamental principles. Operating independently allows us to provide humanitarian assistance impartially, without political or ideological pressures. It also means that we are able to provide neutral aid without having to pick sides.

But didn’t we just say we work directly with governments?

Yes, the Red Cross and Red Crescent will work with local governments to help deliver humanitarian aid and services. But we do this as an independent organization. That means if a government were to ask us to do something that went against our fundamental principles, as an independent organization we would not carry out that request.

Some examples of our work with government includes projects that are made possible through financial support from the Government of Canada. Programs like the Maternal, Newborn and Child Health project receive support from Global Affairs Canada – but services delivered through this program will always be governed and guided by the fundamental principles.

Without independence, it would very difficult to uphold our other principles and would jeopardize the work of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement around the world.