The chapter opens on the Second World War and the impact it had on the actors and the orientations of international humanitarianism. It then focuses on the long-term post-war programmes and it shows how the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA), as well as later UN agencies, aimed to bring about a sea change in the way aid was conceived and administered. In fact, aid for the populations who had been the object of Nazi-Fascist aggression was an integral part of the post-war reconstruction plan and became the symbol of a new beginning in the history of humanitarianism. Feeding and clothing civilians – children in particular – the provision of basic medical care, stopping the spread of epidemics: these remained the main activities of the international programmes, whose intentions, though, were reformulated in the light of humanitarianism’s new aspirations. For example, the conviction – already widely held in the philanthropic tradition – was emphasised that aid and care should go beyond immediate relief and bring a genuine ‘rehabilitation’, physical and moral, to the recipients. The post-Second World War era was a great laboratory for humanitarianism. Within it, old and new convictions, practices and skills interwove themselves and were reformulated, standardised and ratified.
This chapter focuses on the years between the two World Wars, when international humanitarian action was forced to measure itself against the First World War’s dramatic consequences; it became the prerogative of specific institutions and defined certain basic areas of competence. The League of Nations had a crucial role in promoting humanitarianism as a matter of cooperation between different countries. Assistance to refugees, public health and child protection were among the sectors in which this cooperation showed itself to be most profitable. On the initiative of individual governments, humanitarianism came to be included within the sphere of international relations. The most relevant example is certainly that of the American Relief Administration, which contributed to determining the United States’ pre-eminence on the scene of humanitarianism after the First World War. In their turn, the aid programmes were an important part of American international policy. The chapter outlines also the important role of private agencies, such as Near East Relief (a US association) and the Save the Children Fund (a British body).
The interests of the home country’s inhabitants in the populations of the colonies derived most of all from the conviction that acquiring new territories meant taking on certain responsibilities. A now moral public recognised the value in compassion and benevolence. The prevailing idea was that the imperial government had obligations to deal with the c olonised subjects’ living conditions, to understand the reasons for their suffering and to find solutions to end it or at least to relieve it. The crossover between responsibility, compassion and benevolence permeated the whole European colonial experience and contributed to shaping the colonies’ administration. The chapter outlines the emergence of a transnational network of philanthropic activity which developed in close interaction with the relief work carried out at home. This interaction is clear both if we look at the types of initiatives undertaken ‘in the field’ and if we take into consideration the origins and set-up of the associations that were being founded to support the missionaries’ work.
Chapter one presents a cross section of male activists who took up arms with women against their subjection. The chapter deals with the sexual double standard, women’s subordination in marriage and suffragism. It contains analyses of the social mechanisms that keep women in bondage, and pleas for sex equality and emancipation.
The Jacobite movement had a profound impact on the British Isles for seventy years following the Revolution of 1688. It sought to overthrow the new order by armed uprisings on multiple occasions and fostered widespread disaffection and alienation for three generations. In time it failed, but on more than one occasion it had the potential drastically to change the course of English, Irish and Scots history. It was the way not taken, and yet it forced the controllers of the British state to take directions and decisions they might otherwise have avoided. Ironically, the radical threat it came to pose has been airbrushed out of our understanding of the eighteenth century.
The epilogue takes into consideration certain elements of international aid that, since the start of the 1990s, have been seen as forming part of the news. The intention is not so much to understand how radical the change was that took place after the end of the Cold War but to reiterate the usefulness of a long-term view, which may offer important keys to interpreting and then understanding present times.
The failure of the great Jacobite rising of 1715 made it clear the Jacobites could not overthrow the Whig regime without outside support. The Jacobite government-in-exile therefore doggedly pursued every diplomatic opportunity to ally itself with Britain’s enemies for the next forty-three years. As well as the underground struggle in the British Isles there was accordingly a momentous diplomatic struggle between the Stuart court in Rome and the British government. The Jacobite King James and his emissaries sought to persuade the great powers of Europe they could be useful allies in defeating, even potentially destroying, Britain as a great power; the British government attempted by conciliation, intimidation and war to persuade its peers to shun its Jacobite enemies. The British government prevailed most of the time, but in 1719 and 1743–8 it failed and Jacobite risings followed.
This chapter shows how humanitarian agencies acquired a new global reach through the development programmes that from the end of the 1940s were the main activity for international relief. The aim of these programmes was the social and economic advancement of ‘backward’ countries, and went alongside projects for the industrialisation and mechanisation of agriculture, healthcare and education and professional training. The settings in which humanitarianism had grown over time became an essential part of development policies. The humanitarian projects were a vital component of the restatement of the relationships – economic, political, cultural – between the global North and South after the end of the colonial empires. During the 1950s the United Nations defined the agenda, placing at its centre the development programmes that in the following decade also saw the intense involvement of private agencies. The idea of freeing the ‘backward’ countries from poverty and hunger was the stimulus for setting up new associations that, during the 1960s, contributed to increasing the number of programmes carried out in the field.
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.
At the end of the 1960s, in a profoundly altered context, the armed conflicts that shook the fragile and still unstable postcolonial set-up once again brought relief to war victims to the centre of humanitarian action. The conflict immediately following the secession of Biafra from Nigeria (1967–69) was only the first in a series of dramatic events that grabbed the attention of the public and from time to time became new emergencies within which the now complex situation of international relief acted. The secession of Bangladesh and the war between India and Pakistan (1971); the fall of the Pol Pot regime and the Vietnamese occupation of Cambodia (1979); the famine following the dictatorship and internal conflicts in Ethiopia (1984–85): these were the most significant cases through which humanitarianism took on or showed the distinctive features that still characterise it today.