Red Cross

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The Red Cross movement consists of the International Committee of the Red Cross, societies of the red cross in countries around the world, and the International Federation of the Red Cross and red crescent societies.

In the United States, the Red Cross society is the American Red Cross.

The Red Cross is also a symbol which under the Geneva conventions is to be placed on humanitarian and medical vehichles and buildings to protect them from military attack. Originally only the Red Cross was to be used, but Muslim nations (primarily the Ottoman Empire, later Turkey) objected to this, and as a result an additional symbol (the Red Crescent) was to be provided for. Later Persia (now Iran) managed to have a red lion and sun (the lion and sun being the symbol of Persia) added to the list of available symbols; though the symbol no longer being used by Iran has fallen into disuse in favour of the Red Crescent, Iran has in the past reserved the right to take it up again at any time.

Israel then requested the addition of a Red Star of David, arguing that since Christian and Muslim symbols were recognized their symbol should be as well. This symbol is the one currently used by the Israeli Red Cross, but it is not recognized under international humanitarian law. The Red Cross movement has rejected this Israeli request, since if the Jews were to be given another symbol, there would be no end to the number of religious or other groups claiming a symbol for themselves. That would detract from the original intention of the Red Cross symbol, which was to be a single symbol to mark vehicles and buildings protected on humanitarian grounds. In response, the Red Cross movement is in the process of developing a new symbol, which will be without any religious connontations and also easily recognizable on the battlefield; once the Red Cross movement has adopted the symbol it will then be presented to the State Parties to the Geneva Conventions for amendment of the treaties.