Dunant arrived in Solferino on the evening of June 24, 1859, on the same day a battle between the two sides had occurred nearby. Nearly 30,000 were killed or wounded in the Battle of Solferino and many of them lay wounded, dying and dead on the battlefield. Shocked, the Christian-influenced businessman himself took the initiative to organize a group of volunteers to help them.
|Henry Dunant at Solferino|
In 1862 Dunant published a book, Memory of Solferino, in which he suggested an international association of volunteers be raised to help care for the wounded and imprisoned in wartime.
Arising from Dunant’s suggestion, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) was created on October 29, 1863 in Geneva. Its job, under international law, was to protect the life and dignity of the victims of war.
A year later, the Swiss government invited the governments of all European countries, as well as a few others to attend an official diplomatic conference. Sixteen countries sent a total of twenty-six delegates to Geneva.
The Red Cross movement led by Henry Dunant officially began when twelve nations signed the First Geneva Convention, establishing the International Committee of the Red Cross on August 22, 1864.
|Original document of the First Geneva Convention, 1864|
Within three years, the Geneva Convention had been ratified by all the major European powers. Today’s international Red Cross movement is the result of that 1864 conference.
Thanks to his bold venture, Dunant became the first person ever to win the Nobel Peace Prize in 1901.
|Ernest Hemingway in uniform as a Red Cross ambulance driver|
The ARC supplies nearly half of the donated blood in the US.