The ICRC has a legal mandate from the international community. That mandate has two sources:
the Geneva Conventions, which task the ICRC with visiting prisoners, organizing relief operations, re-uniting separated families and similar humanitarian activities during armed conflicts;
the ICRC's Statutes, which encourage it to undertake similar work in situations of internal violence, where the Geneva Conventions do not apply.
The Geneva Conventions are binding instruments of international law, applicable worldwide. The ICRC Statutes are adopted at the International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent, which takes place every four years, and at which States that are party to the Geneva Conventions take part, thereby conferring a quasi-legal or soft law status on the Statutes.