For over 150 years, the Red Cross emblem has received universal recognition as a symbol of giving help, protection and relief to people in crises. The use of the emblem is legally protected. Internationally, the Geneva Conventions signed by 196 countries have enabled the use of the emblem to be protected under law. In Hong Kong, the Hong Kong Red Cross Ordinance (Chapter 1129) authorizes that only the Hong Kong Red Cross (HKRC), or persons or parties authorized or agreed by the HKRC, can use the Red Cross emblem, designs, characters or the words "Red Cross”.
The Red Cross emblem has indicative use in peace time to show that the parties, people and activites concerned are acting or operating in accordance with the Fundamental Principles and the mission of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. It can also be used on items of the Red Cross Societies for decorative purposes. In times of conflicts, the emblem has protective use to indicate to the warring partes that the people and objects are under the protection of the Geneva Conventions. This covers medical personnel, units and transports.