The International Red Cross was founded in October 1863 when representatives from sixteen nations met in Geneva, Switzerland, to discuss creating "in all civilized countries permanent societies of volunteers who in time of war would give help to the wounded without regard for nationality." During the conference the delegates agreed that a red cross on a white background would symbolize the organization to be called the International Red Cross (the flag is the reverse of the Swiss flag, which is a white cross on a red background). In Muslim countries, the Red Cross is called the Red Crescent. The Red Cross was originally the idea of Swiss philanthropist Jean Henri Dunant (1828–1910). In 1859 he had organized a group of volunteers to aid the wounded during a battle in Lombardy, Italy, when French and Italian troops under French emperor Napoleon III (1808-1873) fought Austrians under Emperor Francis Joseph I (1830-1916).
Further Information: American Red Cross. History of the American Red Cross. [Online] Available http://www.redcross.org/hec/index.html, November 6, 2000; Burger, Leslie, and Debra L. Rahm. Red Cross/Red Cresent. Minneapolis, Minn.: Lerner, 1996; Pollard, Michael. The Red Cross and the Red Cresent. Parsippany, N.J.: Silver Burdett, 1994.