The Red Cross was founded by a Swiss, Jean Henri Dunant, after he had witnessed the terrible plight of the wounded at the Battle of Solferino in 1859. Five years later, in 1864, the first Geneva convention was called to establish a code of conduct for nations at war, and Dunant obtained the convention’s agreement that both wounded soldiers and medical services should be treated as neutrals.
The flag chosen to represent the international medical service that grew out of Dunant’s work was a red cross on a white background, this being the reverse colours of the Swiss flag. It also gave the organization its name. In Moslem countries, however, the flag is a red crescent on a white background, to distinguish is clearly from the Christian symbol of a crucifix.