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10 February, 2006

Heard of the Red Crystal?

I've just learned, via an aside at BoingBoing, that in December the states party to the Geneva Conventions on international law agreed on a new symbol, the 'third Protocol emblem' or 'Red Crystal' to denote neutral humanitarian aid organisations.  It serves the same purpose as the existing Red Cross or Red Crescent, as an internationally recognised symbol of mercy, but has the huge advantage of being politically and religiously neutral.

The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement treats the Red Crystal as a third emblem, rather than a replacement for their existing ones, but I hope that it does replace them in the long term.
In the mean time, the two earlier official symbols can still be used alone, or can be displayed within the hollow centre of the Red Crystal. This also offers a useful 'loophole' whereby national aid groups, whose culture-specific logos aren't recognised by the Geneva Conventions (such as Israel's 'Red Star of David'), can subsume their emblems into the Red Crystal for wider applicability, without the Geneva Conventions endorsing their individual legitimacy.

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