The ICRC, established in 1863, works worldwide to provide help for people affected by conflict and armed violence. An independent and neutral organization, its mandate stems from the Geneva Conventions of 1949. Based in Geneva, Switzerland, it employs some 12,000 people in eighty countries; it is financed mainly by voluntary donations from governments and from national Red Cross and Red Crescent societies. Since its foundation, the ICRC has played a humanitarian role in most of the conflicts that have taken place around the world. It has continuously worked to persuade States to expand the legal protection of war victims to limit suffering. In situations of armed conflict the ICRC coordinates the response by its Movement partners.
More than 1,400 specialized staff and generalists are currently on field missions for the ICRC across the globe. They work with some 11,000 local employees, supported and coordinated by around 800 staff at its Geneva headquarters. There are 186 National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies around the world, forming a network of volunteers and staff who provide humanitarian services worldwide. The Red Crescent is used in place of the Red Cross in many Islamic countries, and all societies provide assistance without discrimination as to nationality, race, religious beliefs, class, or political opinions.