The International Committee of the Red Cross: A Neutral Humanitarian Actor

2nd Edition

David P. Forsythe, Barbara Ann Rieffer-Flanagan

Published February 29, 2016
Reference - 154 Pages
ISBN 9781138185548 - CAT# Y220831
Series: Global Institutions

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The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has a complex position in international relations, being the guardian of international humanitarian law but often acting discretely to advance human dignity. Treated by most governments as if it were an inter-governmental organization, the ICRC is a non-governmental organization, all-Swiss at the top, and it is given rights and duties in the 1949 Geneva Conventions for Victims of War.

Written by two formidable experts in the field, this book analyzes international humanitarian action as practiced by the International Red Cross, explaining its history and structure as well as examining contemporary field experience and broad diplomatic initiatives related to its principal tasks. Such tasks include:

  • ensuring that detention conditions are humane for those imprisoned by reason of political conflict or war
  • providing material and moral relief in conflict
  • promoting development of the humanitarian part of the laws of war
  • improving the unity and effectiveness of the movement

Fully updated throughout, the new edition will also include brand new material on:

  • armed actors who do not accept humanitarian restrictions on their actions, including expanded coverage of the Islamic State (ISIL, ISIS), Al Shabab, and Boko Haram, among others
  • Syrian internationalized civil war
  • issue of drone strikes and targeted killings, and the continuing push for regulation of what is called cyber war
  • the question of the field of application of international humanitarian law (what is the battlefield?). Particularly when states declare "war" on "terrorist groups" operating inside other states
  • regulation of new weapons and new uses of old weapons


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