The International Committee of the Red Cross
The International Committee of the Red Cross was founded in 1863 on the initiative of the Swiss Henry Dunant, Peace Prize Laureate in 1901. It consisted - and still consists - exclusively of Swiss nationals. In the following year, the first Geneva Convention was adopted, "for the Amelioration of the Condition of the Wounded and Sick in Armed Forces in the Field". The organization's symbol, the red cross on a white background, was to protect both friend and enemy. In the years that followed, more and more states joined and set up national committees. The leadership exercised by the Swiss Red Cross committee won broad recognition, although it had no international mandate. In 1906 the Geneva Convention was extended to apply also to war at sea.
When World War I broke out in 1914, the International Committee of the Red Cross faced a huge task. It not only upheld the principles of the Geneva Convention, but also undertook to protect the interests of prisoners of war.