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Myths, practices, turning points

This book offers new insights into the history of the Red Cross Movement, the world’s oldest humanitarian body originally founded in 1863 in Geneva, Switzerland. Incorporating new research, the book reimagines and re-evaluates the Red Cross as a global institutional network. It is the first book of its kind to focus on the rise of the Red Cross, and analyses the emergence of humanitarianism through a series of turning points, practices and myths. The book explores the three unique elements that make up the Red Cross Movement: the International Committee of the Red Cross; the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent, formerly known as the League of Red Cross Societies (both based in Geneva); and the 191 national societies. It also coincides with the centenary of the founding of the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent, formed in May 1919 in the aftermath of the First World War. The book will be invaluable for students, lecturers, humanitarian workers, and those with a general interest in this highly recognizable and respected humanitarian brand. With seventeen chapters by leading scholars and researchers from Europe, the UK, Australia, New Zealand and America, the book deserves a place on the bookshelves of historians and international relations scholars interested to learn more about this unique, complex and contested organisation.

Continuities, changes and challenges
Neville Wylie, Melanie Oppenheimer, and James Crossland

attempting to clarify ‘customary practice’ in the application of IHL, and updating Pictet’s 1964 commentaries on the four Geneva Conventions of 1949, in the hope, one suspects, of encouraging conformity. 8 The second element of the Red Cross Movement is the IFRC Societies. Created in the wake of the First World War by the national societies of the United States, Britain, France, Italy and Japan, the League of Red Cross Societies was officially formed in May 1919. Despite having a fundamentally different vision from that of the all Swiss ICRC – that of mobilising the

in The Red Cross Movement
Caroline Reeves

On 5 March 1895, word spread through the north Chinese port city of Niuzhuang that the Japanese army was on its way to take the city. 1 The Japanese had already conquered and devastated much of northern Manchuria in the Sino-Japanese war of 1894–5, and the Chinese civilians who had not yet fled Niuzhuang prepared what they could against the looming threat. 2 Scottish medical missionary Dr Dugald Christie, a prominent figure in China’s European-led first wave of the Red Cross Movement described the terror in the city: In the main street we noticed a very

in The Red Cross Movement
The First World War and the expansion of the Canadian Red Cross Society’s humanitarian vision
Sarah Glassford

When the Canadian Red Cross Society (CRCS) was created in 1896 as the first colonial branch of the British Red Cross Society, it held closely to the Red Cross Movement’s founding vision of inactivity in peacetime. While other national Red Cross societies used peacetime, at a minimum, to prepare for war, the Canadian Society did not, and, as a result, failed to gain any lasting traction in its first decade-and-a-half of existence. After this unpromising beginning, the First World War transformed the Society beyond all expectation into a nation-wide patriotic and

in The Red Cross Movement
The United States Sanitary Commission and the development of the Red Cross Movement, 1861–1871
James Crossland

Convention for the Amelioration of the Condition of Wounded in Armies in the Field. The Red Cross Movement grew from that convention, with national societies of volunteers bearing the Red Cross armband being established across Europe, the Ottoman Empire, Persia and Asia in the decades that followed, each with its own interpretation of Dunant’s idea. 2 Potent as the growth of Red Cross Movement was, there was one major power that refused to follow the vision laid out by Dunant – the United States. Rather than joining the list of nations that were steadily signing up to

in The Red Cross Movement
Neville Wylie

the protection of the POW convention of 1929 and were spared the racially motivated excesses of the Nazi regime might also seem indulgent. The significance of the ‘crisis’, for our purposes, though, lies in what it tells us about the modus operandi of the BRCS, and the wider Red Cross Movement, at one of the most testing times of its history. The provision of relief parcels was arguably the most significant wartime activity undertaken by national societies. In the BRCS’s case, relief operations consumed nearly two-thirds of its budget in early 1941; its success in

in The Red Cross Movement
The League of Red Cross Societies, the Australian Red Cross and its Junior Red Cross in the 1920s
Melanie Oppenheimer

During the interwar period, one of the programmes that engendered considerable interest within the Red Cross Movement was the Junior Red Cross. Described as ‘one of the best guarantees for the permanence of the peacetime work of the Red Cross Society’, the Junior Red Cross tapped into a new and prescribed role that children and youth could play within Red Cross into the future. 1 Youth were viewed optimistically by sections of the Red Cross, arguing that they could play a role in leading the world out ‘of the dark jungle of old passions between nation and

in The Red Cross Movement
The New Zealand Red Cross and the international Red Cross Movement
Margaret Tennant

ground. He especially noted the increasing solicitude felt within the Red Cross Movement as a whole for a ‘sister society’ when disaster struck. Whether familial or mechanistic, Galloway’s metaphors emphasised the place of the NZRC in a larger conglomerate, one that transcended national boundaries in the name of humanity. 1 It was this which also made the Red Cross distinctive within the larger assemblage of voluntary organisations in the Dominion. The 1940 conference provided an illuminating moment in the history of the NZRC, attendees looking forward and back

in The Red Cross Movement
The British Order of St John of Jerusalem and the Red Cross in the Spanish civil wars of the 1870s
Jon Arrizabalaga, Guillermo Sánchez-Martínez, and J. Carlos García-Reyes

neutrality adopted in the Geneva Convention. It is, therefore, a remarkable early experience of the involvement of a national society of the Red Cross movement in a civil war. 6 As suggested by Rebecca Gill, the history of humanitarianism and of the Red Cross is complex and needs to ‘take account of intricate blends of motivation and ideals’ of ‘those claiming to be “doing good”’. 7 Intersections between the Order of St John of Jerusalem and the international Red Cross Movement and, more generally, war humanitarianism, have not yet been sufficiently studied. This

in The Red Cross Movement
Humanitarian diplomacy and the cultures of appeasement in Britain
Rebecca Gill

clear from the planning, preparation and hosting of the formal talks, and the whirl of social functions, that the conference was carefully orchestrated by the British Red Cross Society (BRCS) and the British Government to ensure harmony with British foreign policy. In focusing on the 1938 ICRC Conference, this chapter will depart from most histories of the Red Cross Movement, which have documented its response to war and examined its relief work on the ground, to sample a slice of its peacetime activities and dissect the social and cultural milieu of its international

in The Red Cross Movement