100 years of hope
IFRC’s centenary isn’t a story about the past. It’s about celebrating all the things that make the Red Cross and Red Crescent a vibrant and innovative global network that is ready to face the challenges of the future.
It’s about the life-saving and life-changing work of 13.7 million dedicated volunteers worldwide, and the comfort and support they bring to communities large and small every day. It’s about the power of humanity and how our principles of neutrality, impartiality and independence are every bit as relevant today as they were in 1919.
The story of IFRC is one of solidarity
The five founding National Red Cross Societies – France, Great Britain, Italy, Japan, and the United States – understood the power of partnership and knew that many more lives could be saved and improved by working together, sharing knowledge and resources. We have achieved this milestone together, and we will face and overcome the challenges of the coming years and decades together.
In 2019, we are celebrating 100 years of bringing hope to communities in desperate need, and of bringing the voices of the world’s most vulnerable people to the highest levels of government and international diplomacy. We have advocated for peace and dignity in every country in the world for a century, and will always be there to provide support before, during and after a disaster or crisis.
100 years of service for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies
On 5th May 1919, the League of Red Cross Societies was created in Paris. From the ruins of the First World War, five founding national Red Cross societies – those of France, Great Britain, Italy, Japan and the United States – launched the huge but simple idea that the great body of Red Cross compassion and expertise that had already been shown in war, could be shown in peace-time too.
The League was the brainchild of an American banker, Henry Pomeroy Davison, who had headed the American Red Cross War Committee. It took him less than six months – from the genesis of his idea in December 2018 – to turn it into reality. Today, we celebrate his and all his colleagues’ passion, vision and determination.
Within months, the League had launched a campaign to counter a massive typhus epidemic in Eastern Europe. Soon after, it launched appeals in the wake of the Russian famine of 1921, and the great Kanto earthquake in Japan in 1923.
So began the extraordinary story of the world’s largest humanitarian network, which has launched over 2,300 appeals in its first century.
In 1983, the League of Red Cross Societies became the League of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, and then – in 1991 – the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, the IFRC.
The Federation now numbers 190 National Societies worldwide, operating through some 166,000 branches, and nearly 14 million volunteers. Its sole purpose is to help people in need, without fear or favour. It responds to and prepares for disaster, it brings health services to local communities, it lobbies for best humanitarian practice, it ensures the dignity of people on the move. And much, much more.
A 100-year anniversary is a chance to reflect, and to refresh.
In celebrating the past, it looks to the future in a fast-changing world of unprecedented humanitarian need. Its task is to strengthen its membership, and to empower it – its staff and volunteers – to continue to serve the most vulnerable people. It always seeks to do good better, and is currently debating its Strategy 2030, which will pilot its work over the next decade.
The IFRC is a truly global and yet a truly local organisation, the embodiment of the most durable form of multilateralism, which is local humanitarian action.
It’s there before, during and after crisis. It’s fundamentally a part of the communities it serves. It walks ‘the last mile’, to meet the hardest to reach. It’s everywhere for everyone: preserving their dignity, and living out our collective humanity. It’s 100 years old today.
Secretary General, IFRC
Join the #100YearsChallenge!
We are celebrating 100 years of humanitarian action with our #100YearsChallenge to inspire, encourage, promote and celebrate the Red Cross and Red Crescent. We’ve selected some powerful archive images that show how humanity connects us all, but we can’t tell the full story without you.
Do you have a great photo or video in the archives of your local Red Cross or Red Crescent? Please join the challenge and send us a copy at email@example.com!
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The IFRC celebrates this 100th anniversary, and invites all its members and partners to launch its second century with renewed commitment to reach and serve the most vulnerable, and to strengthen the pride and unity of the membership.
Download below the concept note (.docx) in your preferred language
Calendar of activities
Download below the calendar of activities (.docx) in your preferred language
View the IFRC centenary souvenirs on FedNet.
IFRC Alumni Association
In the year of our 100th anniversary, the IFRC is very pleased to announce the establishment of the IFRC Alumni Association.
Thousands of highly experienced colleagues from the National Societies have given a significant part of their lives to IFRC, at headquarters, on mission or in country. Many have risked their lives in so doing.
With an Alumni Association, former staff will be able to maintain contact with friends and colleagues and retain positive links with the Movement.