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The International Committee of the Red Cross and its Development Since 1945

  • Hans-Peter Gasser

Abstract

The history of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is closely tied to that of Switzerland, and as a consequence of two world wars the relation became especially intimate. To this day the ICRC president is generally a former Swiss diplomat, and the 20 individuals constituting the actual Committee are still exclusively Swiss. Times are changing, however. During the Cold War, and particularly since the fall of the Berlin Wall, the world outside and inside the ICRC has evolved. The ICRC was created to function in classical wars among state actors. Today, such wars are rare and the ICRC is experiencing the difficulties encountered by all agencies engaged in international conflict management. The internal ICRC dynamics are also changing and, most particularly, the ICRC is increasingly becoming an actor in its own right. The purpose of this article is to look more closely at the evolution of the ICRC’s mission and, most particulary, to trace the changing nature of its relation to Swiss foreign policy.

Keywords

International Criminal Court International Committee Rome Statute Geneva Convention Occupied Territory 
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Notes

  1. 1.
    On the history of the ICRC see in particular François Bugnion, Le Comité international de la Croix-Rouge et la protection des victimes de la guerre (Genève: CICR, 1994). An English version of this book will be published in 2003: The International Committee of the Red Cross and the Protection of War Victims (Houndmills, Basingstoke: ICRC and Macmillan, forthcoming)Google Scholar
  2. See also Caroline Moorehead, Dunant’s Dream: War, Switzerland and the History of the Red Cross ( London: HarperCollins, 1998 )Google Scholar
  3. John F. Hutchinson, Champions of Charity: War and the Rise of the Red Cross ( Boulder: Westview Press, 1996 )Google Scholar
  4. David P. Forsythe, ‘The International Committee of the Red Cross and humanitarian assistance: A policy analysis’, International Review of the Red Cross, No. 314 (1996), pp. 512–31CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. David P. Forsythe, Humanitarian Politics: The International Committee of the Red Cross ( Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1977 ).Google Scholar
  6. 7.
    See Christophe Girod, Tempête sur le désert: le Comité international de la Croix-Rouge et la guerre du Golfe 1990–1991 ( Bruxelles: Emile Bruylant, 1995 ).Google Scholar
  7. 12.
    See Jacques Freymond, Guerres, révolutions, Croix-Rouge ( Geneva: Graduate Institute of International Studies, 1976 ).Google Scholar
  8. 13.
    See Thierry Hentsch, Face au blocus: La Croix-Rouge internationale dans le Nigéria en guerre (1967–1970) ( Geneva: Graduate Institute of International Studies, 1973 ).Google Scholar
  9. 14.
    Thomas Fischer, ‘The ICRC and the Cuban missile crisis’, IRRC, No. 842 (June 2001), pp. 287–309. Opinions differ as to whether U Thant was the first to ask the ICRC to accept such a task or whether the ICRC spontaneously offered its services to the Secretary-General.Google Scholar
  10. 19.
    See Simone Delorenzi, Contending with the Impasse in International Humanitarian Action: ICRC Policy since the End of the Cold War ( Geneva: ICRC, 1999 )Google Scholar
  11. Michèle Mercier, Crimes without Punishment: Humanitarian Action in former Yugoslavia ( London: Pluto Press, 1995 ).Google Scholar
  12. 21.
    ICC Rules of Procedure and Evidence. On the ICRC’s position, see in general: Gabor Rona, ‘The ICRC’s privilege not to testify: Confidentiality in action’, IRRC, No. 854 (March 2002), pp. 207–19.Google Scholar
  13. 24.
    Jean-Claude Favez, The Red Cross and the Holocaust (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999); and Bugnion, Le Comité international de la Croix-Rouge et la protection des victimes de la guerre, p. 1172.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hans-Peter Gasser

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