The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement
The mission of the movement is to protect human life and health and to alleviate suffering, regardless the nationality, race, religion or political beliefs. The movement has several parts: the ICRC (International Committee of the Red Cross), National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (for example Polish Red Cross founded in 1919) and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. The International Committee was founded by the Swiss businesman Henry Dunant who, while travelling on business, whitnessed the Battle of Solferino in June 1859. In one day about 40.000 soldiers were either killed in the battle or were wounded and left in the field. He was shocked by the suffering of the soldiers and lack of basic care. He abandonded his original business goals and devoted himself to the organization. The movement had a great role in the World War One and Two. The Red Cross nurses helped the wounded patients, letters and messages, parcels and money were transferred with the help of volunteers from the organization. Prisoners were exchanged and lots of people returned home because of the help of Red Cross. The organization protested against new weapons (when chemical weapons appeared for the first time). Nowadays there is no conflict without the presence of the Red Cross volunteers. Many of them have died. The Red Cross also works in the time of peace – one of its missions is health prevention. Henry Dunant was awarded Peaceful Nobel price in 1901, Red Cross as organization was awarded three times.
Greenpeace is an international environmental organization. It was founded in Vancouver, Canada, in 1971. The origins of Greenpeace lie in the Don’t Make a Wave Committee which was organized by peace activists in Vancouver in 1970. The Committee (it took a name from the slogan used during protests against United States nuclear testing the previous year) aimed at stopping a second underground nuclear bomb testing beneath the island of Amchitka, Alaska. Two ship exhibitions were sent by the Committee: the Greenpeace I and II. Then the names of these exhibitions were chosen for the name of the organization inspired by the protests. Since that time Greenpeace has often protested agains nuclear testing. The second kind of activity often asociated with Greenpeace are actions against whaling. A great success of Greenpeace is a permanent moratorium on commercial whaling. Other actions included a campaign against the Kimberly-Clark Corporation – because such products as Kleenex (popular tissues) have been linked to the desctruction of boreal forest. There have been also campaigns against deforestation, genetically modified crops and global warming.
United Nations is an international organization with 192 member states. The stated aims of the organization are to facilitate co-operation in international law, security, economic development, human rights and social progress. It was founded after the end of the World War II by the victorious countries and it hoped to avoid war in the future. Now these countries are still the most important members (for example the have veto power on UN resolutions). They are People’s Republic of China, the French Republic, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom and the USA. Such organizations as UNICEF or WHO are System agencies of the UN. The most visible figure is the Secretary-General. The current Secretary-General is Ban Ki-moon of South Korea (since 1 January 2007). The headquarters are in New York.
UNICEF was created in 1946, first with the name of United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund, then the name was shortened to Children’s Fund, but still the acronym from the original name is used more often. The major aim of UNICEF is to provide help to children and mothers in developing countries. It concentrates on the poorest areas in Africa, but it has helped chidren all over the world. One of the areas where UNICEF acts very actively is education. It wants to ensure each kid has access to education and basic tools. It affects especially girls who are gaining bigger and bigger access to education in the recent years. The second area is health, especially prevention. Vaccines can save thousands of life every year. They are inexpensive and very efficient – so the program of immunization has appeared to be a great success of UNICEF. The organization also helps to fight violence, children’s exploitation and abuse, which includes trafficking, sexual exploitation, children pornography and child labour.
WHO – World Health Organization
It is a specialized agency of the United Nations. Established in 1948, as its main goal has to fight with key infectious diseases and to promote health generally. It monitors outbreaks of such diseases as malaria, SARS and AIDS. It was WHO who declared in 1979, after years of fighting with smallpox, that the disease has been eradicated. Developing vaccines against some diseases – like malaria – is one of its major goals. WHO also conducts its own research, for example on the influence of mobile phones on health. It also works on clasification of diseases and on the list of essential medicines that shuld be found in every country.
WWF – World Wide Fund for Nature
It is an international, non-governmental organisation, whose main goal is conservation, research and restoration of the natural environment. Now it concentrates on the conservation of the three biomes: forests, freshwater ecosystems and oceans and coasts. It also tries to protect endangered species, fights pollution and climate change. The organization was founded in 1961, in Switzerland under the name of World Wildlife Fund. Apart from its international goals, in every country the organization has some specific aims.