Movement roles project/Peer organizations/Models/RedCross
This page is kept for historical interest. Any policies mentioned may be obsolete.
Related to now concluded Wikimedia movement roles project.
The Red Cross and Red Crescent movement is a hybrid with:
- a highly-centralized International Committee of the Red Cross
- a decentralized International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, which brings together 186 autonomous member national members societies, while some Red Cross or Red Crescent societies are not members. Some national members, such as the American Red Cross, are themselves federations of societies. The General Assembly of the IFRCRCS meets every two years.
The Geneva Convention ties the movement together, and gives the right to use the symbol of the red cross, enforced by the Swiss diplomatic corps.
Switzerland itself has all of the elements of the movement: the Swiss Red Cross, headquartered in Bern, is a federation of 24 cantonal associations employing 2,000 people. One Swiss canton is Geneva, which is also the headquarters of the ICRC (where it employs 800) and the IFRCRC.
Transfer of resources among different parts of the Red Cross movement can be complex, governed by treaty, pooling arrangements, and bilateral arrangements.
Some argue that the Red Cross Red Crescent movement is not a network of NGOs, but a class of organization all on its own: "sui generis" to use the legal Latin. The statutory basis of many of its parts gives it almost a governmental status. The ICRC could be seen as a "multilateral organization", along with organizations such as the UN or the World Bank.
Three reasons why users like this model
- Established and protected by law and international treaty (Geneva Convention)
- Global body to act in crisis (ICRC)
- Large range of local organizations, often well-supported by volunteers
Three concerns of users about this model
- Slow response to scandals
- Complexity, with plethora of bodies, inflexible laws and networks
- Expense, due to overhead required to support multiple bodies and complex network
Examples of responses to a crisis
While respected, the Red Cross movement has faced a number of controversies, facing criticism for not only the initial problem, but the tardiness of its response.
- Blood supply: The American Red Cross, which supplies 44% of blood for transfusions in the US, was criticized in the 1980s for responding slowly to the HIV crisis, resulting in infections, particularly among hemophiliacs. The FDA took the Red Cross to court, resulting in millions of dollars of fines and a consent decree. The Red Cross installed new computerized tracking systems, but issues persist, with the FDA applying pressure and fines, most recently $1.7 million in June 2008.
- September 11 controversy: After the attacks on New York on September 11, 2001 the American Red Cross appealed for blood and donations to help victims of the disaster. The generosity of the public exceeded the needs of the Red Cross: donated blood was discarded and cash donations were kept for other purposes, such as "improved telecommunications. After this was questioned, in February 2002 The New Yorker magazine carried a column saying American Red Cross representatives were visiting upscale apartment buildings in wealthy Manhattan neighborhoods and distributing donated money (up to three months' rent or mortgage payments) to New Yorkers who had been "displaced, traumatized, or merely inconvenienced" by the terrorist attacks, without any regard to whether the recipients were actually in financial need. This led to the resignation of the President of the ARC after a severance payment of $1,569,630.
- Echoing the September 11 controversy, the Australian Red Cross faced similar questions after it's successful appeal for victims of the Indian Ocean Tsunami of 26th December 2004 raised more money than could be spent immediately.
- Randy Shilts "And The Band Played On", St Martins Press, 1987
- American Red Cross report