On February 17, 1863, a group of Geneva citizens founded an International Committee for Relief to the Wounded, which later became known as the International Committee of the Red Cross. One hundred and fifty four years later, the ICRC works in nearly 80 countries around the globe. Since its creation, the ICRC's sole objective has been to ensure protection and assistance for victims of armed conflict and strife. It does so through its direct action around the world, as well as by encouraging the development of international humanitarian law (IHL) and promoting respect for it by governments and all weapon bearers. Its story is about the development of humanitarian action, the Geneva Conventions and the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement.
For this week’s roundup, we’re doing something a little different and taking a look at the ICRC’s long and storied history by delving into our archives. For our full-on history buffs, check out the ICRC website.
The International Conference held in Geneva on 26-29 October 1863 formalized the ideas proposed by Henry Dunant in his book, A Memory of Solferino. In this video, ICRC historian Daniel Palmieri visits the location where the conference was held and explains the significance of this event.
From the Intercross Archives, written by our own Anna Nelson.
At the outbreak of the Great War, the ICRC had already been operating for over 50 years. Although international in name, the ICRC was actually a local philanthropic association, inexperienced and, above all, small in size (only 10 members in August 1914). The First World War and its aftermath were to cause lasting change at the ICRC and begin developing it into what it is today.
Children in war (photo gallery)
Wounded, brutalized, jailed, abducted, raped or killed, recruited to fight, deprived of food, water and shelter, orphaned or separated from their families – in wartime children have always been among the most vulnerable victims, despite their strength and their astonishing ability to adapt. Protecting children in wartime, giving them relief and caring for them has always been a priority for the ICRC. Children benefit from most of our programs, some of which, such as psychological care and restoring family links, are largely designed to meet their needs.
The ICRC archives provides the public with a unique insight into a number of historical events by hosting a vast array of images, videos, documents, audio and more from 1966-1975, including the Vietnam War, the Nigeria-Biafra War, the military junta in Greece, and the coup against President Allende in Chile.
Each episode brings new and interesting stories from the organization's past and present. The team in Geneva is currently in the process of digitizing and cataloging our rich audio archives, which means we too are discovering a few long-forgotten stories.
Are you a writer, videographer, photographer or blogger publishing interesting stuff linked to armed conflict, international humanitarian law (a.k.a. the law of armed conflict), innovation, compassion, history, etc. that you think deserves a shout-out here? Send us a link and we might feature your content next week. Write to: nclark (at) icrc (dot) org