La guerre et la charité
in A history of humanitarianism, 1755–1989
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Following recent historiography, the chapter calls into question the overlapping of the foundation of the Red Cross and the origins of humanitarianism. At the same time it explains why the birth of the ICRC marked a turning point: it led to the completion of acts that were already in progress, it catalysed the different forces in action and it intercepted shared opinions and feelings. In the first instance the new organisation directed aid and treatment work towards war victims, marking for a long time the main boundaries of humanitarian action. As well as this, the initiatives promoted by the Genevan committee as early as the beginning of the 1860s for soldiers struck down by enemy fire or illness encouraged an interpenetration between humanitarianism and warfare. This took a leap forward in the Franco-Prussian War and then again in the First World War. At the same time, Europe became the centre-stage for humanitarian operations.

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