About the emblem
The red cross, the red crescent, and the red crystal emblems are the basis of humanitarian activities, which serve to protect both victims and the ones providing help.
The protective role of the emblem has to be established in peacetime since it would be too late to prevent their misuse after the outbreak of war. By preventing imitation and unauthorized use of the emblems in peacetime, we can ensure that the victims of conflicts are not left to their fate and that those who come to their aid have the safety guarantees they need for their work. We can all contribute to the strengthening of the emblem’s protective value. It is also our responsibility to ensure the protective force of the emblem, which might save our lives tomorrow.
The question arises why organisations with ambulance service or other health related activities can’t use the red cross logo? For them, other logos exist that have been used by health care for a long time.
Who can use the emblem?
The use of emblems of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies is regulated by national and international law. In accordance with national and international law, it is specified what / who is eligible to use the red cross, the red crescent, and the red crystal. Peacetime and wartime have a different set of rules.
Indicative use (small-size emblem)
First and foremost, the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies are authorised to make an indicative use of the emblem, but only in accordance with their national legislation on the indicative use of the emblem, and with the Movement’s 1991 Regulations on the Use of the Emblem by the National Societies.
National Societies may use the emblem only for activities consistent with the Principles, that is, when they exclusively serve the purpose of giving voluntary and impartial help to every person in need.
In accordance with the Regulations, National Societies may also use the emblem at their own events and fundraising campaigns. Third parties (e.g. commercial companies or other organisations) can join these events and campaigns, but only if they are in accordance with the Regulations.
Emergency vehicles and first aid stations not operated by the Red Cross may also display the emblem for signalling purposes only in peacetime, provided it is used in accordance with the laws of the country, expressly authorised by the national company, and first aid centres provide only free assistance.
Protective use (large-size emblem)
Only those Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies may use it, which are recognised by their governments, and are authorised to help the medical services of armed forces. In armed conflicts, they may display the emblem as a protective symbol only on those parts of their medical personnel and equipment that are meant to help official military medical services, exclusively serve the same purpose as these military forces, and are subject to military laws and regulations.
Only those civilian hospitals may use the emblem which are recognised by the state, and are authorised to display the emblem with a protective purpose. Only those civilian medical units (hospitals, aid stations, etc.) may use the emblem which are recognised and authorised by the relevant authorities (only regarding states mentioned in Protocol I).
Other voluntary aid societies may use the emblem under the same conditions as the National Societies do: they shall be recognised and enabled by their governments, they may display the emblem only on those parts of their medical personnel and equipment that are assigned to the medical services of armed forces, and are subject to military laws and regulations.
The tasks, activities and rules related to the legal status of the Hungarian Red Cross and the protection of the emblem are specified in several laws currently in force. The most important sources of law are the international conventions signed in Geneva on August 12, 1949 and the laws that make it part of the Hungarian legal system (laws, statutory regulations, other subordinate decrees).
These Geneva Conventions were first included in the 32nd Legislative Decree of 1954, which entered into force on 3 February 1955. However, the original Hungarian text of the Convention was only published in the 2000/17 edition of the Hungarian Official Gazette.
There are three types of abuse:
- imitation, which means the use of a mark which is likely to be confused with the emblem because of its shape and / or colour;
- usurpation, which means the use of the logo by unauthorised persons or bodies (commercial firms, pharmacists, private doctors, NGOs and the general public, etc.);
- and camouflage, that is, the use the emblem during conflicts to protect soldiers or military equipment; disguised use of the emblem is a “serious violation” of international humanitarian law, in other words a war crime.