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Red Cross may adopt new 'crystal' emblem

Signatories to the Geneva Convention are meeting to adopt new Red Cross emblem

  • Agencies
  • Published: 00:00 December 5, 2005
  • Gulf News

Geneva: The 192 countries who are signatories to Geneva Conventions on the conduct of warfare will consider whether to adopt a new Red Cross emblem at a two-day meeting, possibly paving the way for Israel's entry into the movement.

The meeting will begin on Monday.

Red Cross partner organisations of Israel and the Palestinian Authority have already signed an agreement of mutual recognition, foreseeing acceptance of the "red crystal" at the Swiss-hosted diplomatic conference in Geneva.

The crystal is a new emblem that the international Red Cross is considering recognising alongside the red cross and red crescent.

The red cross was first adopted in 1863, when Swiss humanitarians founded the movement to care for war victims. It simply reverses the colours of the neutral Swiss flag, without any religious intent.

But most Muslim countries, reminded of the crusader's cross from centuries earlier, refused to use it.

Instead, the Ottoman empire used the red crescent to protect its medical workers in the 1876 Russo-Turkish war. The red crescent was enshrined with the red cross in the 1929 version of the Geneva conventions on warfare.

Israel has been denied membership in the humanitarian movement for nearly six decades because it rejects both emblems.

"This is a very respectable movement, this is about saving lives and that is too important to be polarized," said Masood Khan, Pakistan's ambassador to the United Nations, who also chairs the Organisation of the Islamic Conference in Geneva.

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