The book traces the history of international humanitarianism from the anti-slavery movement to the end of the Cold War. It is based on an extensive survey of the international literature and is retold in an original narrative that relies on a close examination of the sources. It explains how relief entered both the national and the supranational institutions' agenda, and the programmes of non-governmental organisations, contributing to shape the relationship between the global North and South. The reconstruction of humanitarianism’s long history unfolds around some crucial moments and events: the colonial expansion of European countries, the two World Wars and their aftermaths, the emergence of a new postcolonial order. Salvatici looks especially closely at the major actors of aid operations (such as the Red Cross, Save the Children, the United Nations agencies, Oxfam, Doctors Without Borders) and highlights how the meaning of international humanitarianism has changed over time.
European and American electorates believe that the system and its leaders have let them down. This certainly describes many supporters of Donald Trump and of far-right politicians in Europe as well. Another factor is concern that refugees, driven from their homes by conflicts in the Middle East and elsewhere, will not only bring terrorist threats home to Western states but will also threaten economic well-being, particularly among those who are already suffering the most from unemployment and other residual impacts of the Great Recession.
There is also a perception
and its values. In the time of transatlantic traumas, both threats have worked diligently and with some success. They have, to some degree, already changed the normal way of life in Western countries, ranging from the much more pervasive security measures encountered almost everywhere, to dealing with the overwhelming flow of refugees from the war-torn Middle East, to the destabilizing British plan to leave the EU, and to the election of Donald Trump as a disruptive American president.
From the Taliban regime in Afghanistan blowing up historic artifacts there to
Margins of Chaos: Recollections of Relief Work in and Between Three Wars , published in London in 1944. Francesca was born in Newcastle upon Tyne in 1881, a Quaker, and became a teacher after completing her studies at Newnham College, Cambridge. In 1916 she followed in the footsteps of her brother and two cousins and joined the Friends assisting refugees in France. The following year she left France for Corsica, where she again worked in caring for refugees, this time Serbs, on behalf of the Serbian Relief Fund, a private association of famous British philanthropists
knowledge and experience already gained with post-war relief and ‘rehabilitation’.
Before moving on to the reconstruction of the initiatives undertaken to fight poverty and hunger, it is worth recalling that even though the question of development took on great importance, it did not account for the whole of humanitarianism’s work in the decades that followed the end of the Second World War. The assistance to the refugee population, which was one of the fields in which humanitarianism had historically developed, kept a significant importance and in this very
the relationship between the British Red Cross and the Egyptian Red Crescent. Both societies interpreted their humanitarian mission in close relation to the political commitments to their own national governments and this placed them in conflict on crucial issues, such as services for prisoners of war. 1
The decolonisation process also marked what happened in wars in the next decade and assistance to refugees reasserted itself as one of the preferred areas of intervention for international humanitarianism. The region of the Great Lakes of Africa was where
linchpins in Europe – even if its background details had been altered. In the second half of the 1940s, dealing with the topic of refugees, homeless people and malnourished children meant talking about the European population, but the Euro-centric set-up of the humanitarian programmes would prevail for almost a decade, due to the long post-war period but also because of the Cold War.
A final observation on the post-war programmes and their effects on the history of humanitarianism: UNRRA is usually thought of as the first UN agency. It is worth clarifying the
illiberal history has left such a painful wound on the body politic that extreme temptations in that direction have but limited chances for getting traction. But in virtually all European countries, a combination of circumstances in recent years has increased support for parties, groups and leaders who argue the case for less liberal democracy and more autocratic governance. The Great Recession and the refugee crisis over the past decade created particularly fertile ground in Western Europe for those radical populists who were prepared to turn popular dissatisfaction into
refugees from Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and Africa (3.4 million as of October 2017).
The secular, pro-Western state that dates to Atatürk’s reforms starting with the Constitution of 1924, was substantially modified by an April 2017 national referendum called by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Its popular approval, by a small margin, gives considerably more power to the presidency at the expense of the parliament and judiciary, and this referendum is seen by many as the first step toward the creation of a Putin-style regime under Erdoğan’s control. The question is
philanthropic tradition, the care of infants, for example, was established as having a leading role as a form of humanitarian relief, a prominent position that had been strengthened by the figure of the child as the perfect example of an innocent war victim. The emergence of refugee populations as recipients of aid was significant. So too was the consequent introduction of the criteria and procedures to establish which fleeing civilians could be placed in the category of ‘recipients’ of what the international community was prepared to make available. These two great areas of