Australian Lefty on Politics, Governance, Science and Info Management

Law of the Red Crystal

Posted by Dave Bath on 2009-02-04

Submissions recently closed for the Senate inquiry into Defence Legislation (Miscellaneous Amendments) Bill 2008, a bill with a few technical amendments, but one very important one that everyone should understand.

Red Crystal, a.k.a the Third Protocol Emblem of the Geneva Convention, a thick-bordered red lozenge (90 degrees) with a white centre and white background

Red Crystal Emblem

It legislates for recognition and use of the Red Crystal, a.k.a. the "Third Protocol Emblem of the Geneva Convention".

The Red Crystal Debate stems from the offence some take from the Red Cross and the Red Crescent, the barely-understood Red Lion, as well as the totally unrecognized Red Star of David that Israel insists upon.

Adopted by the Red Cross in 2007, the Red Crystal, a thick hollow red lozenge on a white background, can have national and international symbols inside it (see bottom of post), be it a red cross, a red crescent, a red lion, a red Star of David (or possibly even a red kangaroo).  This provides a "migration path" for those attached to current partisan symbols, as well as the public.

The adoption of a non-religiously-divisive symbol is a good thing.  You can imagine that the religiously partisan symbols can confuse color-blind soldiers (the incidence is 1 in 20 for males) in the Middle East, who could mistake an ambulance for a military convoy.

Thus the change will save lives as soon as the lozenge is used and the public is educated.  The ICRC wouldn’t even have to change it’s initials or internet domain.

It even has a subliminal significance to the uneducated public because it resembles standard warning signs that are often white lozenges with a red border (like "Give Way").

In an ICRC PDF brochure, there is an explanation of the need for resolution of partisan symbols, and the extraordinary amount of time taken to resolve the debate – Israel being the most recalcitrant, refusing to join the international movement:

In divesting itself of an obstacle that threatened its future and limited its potential, and in finding a balanced solution to a question that had consumed its energy and cast a pall over its deliberations for decades – a solution respectful of its fundamental principles – the Movement has acquired greater freedom of action and a greater capacity to meet the challenges of the future.

Let’s hope that we start seeing the Red Crystal, with or without extra symbols in the centre, everywhere, rather than the current partisan ones.  (Personally, the sooner the cross and crescent, red or otherwise have no meaning to anyone but historians, the better.)

Let’s hope that the government assists this by contributing to a public awareness campaign before this years "Red Crystal" appeal.

That is a government advertising campaign no-one could object to!


While the Red Crystal takes up most of the bill, it also does the following:

  • Includes dentistry services as well as medical services for military person, their families, and cadets (a Good Thing)
  • Puts the geographical area of Pine Gap firmly in legislation as a prohibited area for consistency
  • Does a bit of gender-neutral stuff, replacing "him" with "him and her"

Other symbols that will be recognized because of red inclusions in the Red Crystal, as well as the new "banner logo" for the ICRC with all three major symbols follow:

ICRC Banner Image

ICRC Banner Image

Red Crystal symbol showing how both cross and crescent can be included

Red Crystal with Cross AND Crescent

Red Crystal symbol showing how the Red Cross can be included

Red Crystal with Cross

Red Crystal symbol showing how the Red Crescent can be included

Red Crystal with Crescent

Red Crystal symbol showing how the Lion and Sun can be included

Red Crystal With Lion and Sun

Red Crystal symbol showing how the Star of David can be included

Red Crystal with Star


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