Conference Program “Humanity – a History of European Concepts in Practice”

Convenors:    Fabian Klose and Mirjam Thulin as well as all members                                      of the Leibniz Institute of European History Research Area II

Venue:            Leibniz Institute of European History in Mainz, Germany

Date:               October 8 to 10, 2015

2015-10-08 -10  Poster Humanity

Conference Program

Thursday, October 8, 2015

16:00: Welcome and Introduction, Johannes Paulmann (Mainz), Fabian Klose (Mainz), Mirjam Thulin (Mainz)

16:30-17:30: Keynote Lecture: Humankind from Division to Recomposition, Francisco Bethencourt (London)

18:00 Dinner


Friday, October 9, 2015

09:00-10:30: Panel I: Morality and Human Dignity, Part I: Early Modern Concepts

  • Humanism and Its Humanitas. The Transition from humanitas Christiana to humanitas politica in the Political Writings of Erasmus, Mihai-D. Grigore (Mainz)
  • All People have Reason and Free Will. The Debate about the Nature of the Indigenous Americans in the 16th Century, Mariano Delgado (Fribourg)
  • Chair: Jorge Luengo (Mainz)
  • Commentary: Wolfgang Schmale (Vienna)

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Call for Applications for Global Humanitarianism Research Academy – Deadline 31 December 2015

Drs Fabian Klose, Johannes Paulmann, and Andrew Thompson are pleased to announce that the Call for Applications for the second Global Humanitarianism Research Academy (GHRA) 2016 is now open, with a deadline of 31 December 2015.


Call for Applications:

Global Humanitarianism | Research Academy

International Research Academy on the History of Global Humanitarianism

Academy Leaders:                    

Fabian Klose (Leibniz Institute of European History Mainz)

Johannes Paulmann (Leibniz Institute of European History Mainz)

Andrew Thompson (University of Exeter)

in co-operation with the International Committee of the Red Cross (Geneva) and with support by the German Historical Institute London


University of Exeter, UK

& Archives of the International Committee of the Red Cross, Geneva

Dates:                                       10-22 July 2016

Deadline:                                  31 December 2015

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Conference “Connecting with the Past – the Fundamental Principles of the International Red Cross Red Crescent Movement in Critical Historical Perspective”

Cross-posted from icrchistory

The International Committee of the Red Cross is hosting a two-day conference, bringing together prominent humanitarians and academics to reflect critically on the history of humanitarian action.

The 16-17 September conference, “Connecting with the Past – the Fundamental Principles of the International Red Cross Red Crescent Movement in Critical Historical Perspective”, will consist of seven panels with around 30 panelists in addition to invited experts.


The first night of the symposium will be a livestreamed public conference entitled “Stubborn Realities, Shared Humanity: History in the Service of Humanitarian Action.” It will feature the ICRC’s president Peter Maurer, along with Jane Cocking (Humanitarian Director, Oxfam UK), Sir Michael Aaronson (formerly Save the Children), academics Irène Herrmann (Associate Professor of Swiss Transnational History, University of Geneva) and Andrew Thompson, (Professor of Modern History, University of Exeter),  moderated by the ICRC’s Vincent Bernard.

At its International Conference in Vienna in 1965, the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement proclaimed the Seven Fundamental Principles – Humanity, Impartiality, Neutrality, Independence, Voluntary service, Unity and Universality – as the basis for its humanitarian approach.

The two-day historical symposium, jointly organized by the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council, the University of Exeter and the ICRC, aims to reflect on the relevance, influence and challenges of the humanitarian principles, from the birth of modern humanitarianism in the 19th century to today.

Michael Geyer’s GHRA Lecture on IEG YouTube

On the occaison of the first Global Humanitarianism Research Academy (GHRA) Prof. Dr. Michael Geyer (University of Chicago) was inivited as guest lecturer and gave a intriguing talk on “Humanitarianism, Humanitarian Law, and Human Rights. A Difficult Relationship”

In order to enable a broader public audience to listen and to watch Michael Geyer’s perceptive lecture on a highly relevant topic, we decided to put it on the new IEG YouTube channel. Enjoy watching Michael Geyer’s talk!

There will more videos coming up soon at IEG YouTube, so keep following it!

Additionally, please note that the Call for Application for the GHRA 2016 will be soon published here on hhr!

Fabian Klose        Johannes Paulmann      Andrew Thompson

CfP: Empire and Humanitarianism, 13 and 14 June 2016, University of Exeter

Cross-posted from:

Following the success of the Network’s first conference in June 2014, we’re delighted to announce details of our second conference, which will take place at the University of Exeter in June 2016. The next conference will be on the theme of ‘Empire and Humanitarianism’ and the call for papers can be found below. As with our first conference, we’re particularly keen to have submissions from PhD students and early career researchers but proposals from more established historians are welcome too. A selection of papers from the first conference are scheduled to appear in the Journal of World History later this year and we anticipate that our second conference will result in a special issue or edited collection.

The ‘global turn’ has invigorated the study of humanitarianism, development and human rights. Within the context of Imperial history, historians have pointed to the complex and often contradictory relationship between humanitarianism and empire. Although humanitarianism emerged in response to the worst excesses of imperialism, such as the slave trade and the atrocities associated with the Boer War, it was nonetheless shaped by the ‘moral and political frameworks of empire’.[1] In other words, empire and humanitarianism were not necessarily incompatible and could in fact be mutually reinforcing, whether this was through the paternal rhetoric of the ‘civilising mission’ or the development of international regulatory agencies during the inter-war period. Although these discourses and mechanisms were often more concerned with consolidating the authority of the imperial powers than they were in protecting the rights of colonial subject populations, humanitarianism could have emancipatory effects. As the legitimacy of empire came under increasing scrutiny after 1945, metropolitan activists shifted from abstract expressions of sympathy for colonial peoples to forms of participatory activism that involved the outright rejection of empire and the channelling of political and material support to nationalist movements For anti-colonial nationalists the emerging discourses associated with human rights, self-determination, and development provided a global context for their local struggles, enabling them to forge transnational links with other anti-colonial groups and providing the language and the means with which to undermine the moral authority of the imperial state.

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New Blog on the Helsinki Accords and Human Rights

Ned Richardson-Little (University of Exeter) has just started a new blog on the Helsinki Accords and Human Rights @:


US President Gerald Ford and Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev

As Associate Research Fellow Ned is currently working on “1989 after 1989: The Fall of State-Socialism in a Global Perspective,” a Leverhulme Trust supported project led by Prof. James Mark.

Ned’s research projects focus on the politics of human rights in the Eastern Bloc and the history of oil in East Germany.

Enjoy reading and exploring Ned’s new blog!

ICRC Report on the Effects of the Atomic Bomb at Hiroshima 1945

Cross-posted from icrchistory

Rapport rédigé en octobre 1945 par Fritz Bilfinger, délégué du CICR au Japon à cette époque, concernant les effets du bombardement atomique sur la population d’Hiroshima.

This report on the effects of the atomic bomb at Hiroshima was written on October 1945 by Fritz Bilfinger, ICRC delegate in Japan


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Interdisciplinary Conference “Humanity – a History of European Concepts in Practice”

Convenors:    Fabian Klose and Mirjam Thulin as well as all members                                      of the Leibniz Institute of European History Research Area II

Venue:            Leibniz Institute of European History in Mainz, Germany

Date:               October 8 to 10, 2015

The aim of the interdisciplinary conference “Humanity” – a History of European Concepts in Practice is to analyze the varieties and shifting meanings of the term “Humanity” within the European context as well as in the context of Europe’s relations to other world regions from the 16th to the 20th centuries. The term defined in an English dictionary of 1755 as “1) The nature of a man, 2) Humankind; the collective body of mankind, 3) Benevolence; tenderness, 4) Philology; grammatical studies”, offers a wide range of starting points in research. Thus, references to “Humanity” can be found in ever increasing numbers on the research agenda of different disciplines.

2015-10-08 -10  Poster Humanity

In our interdisciplinary conference we seek to investigate the intertwined theoretical debates about “Humanity” on the one hand, and their diverse consequences in practice on the other hand. Having religious, colonial, social, and gender perspectives in mind, theologians, philosophers, legal and literary scholars as well as historians will discuss the issue of “Humanity” in a broader dialogue in order to connect their research agendas. In doing so, we will focus on the following issues:

  • Morality and Human Dignity
  • Violence and International Law
  • Philanthropy
  • Social Inequalities

By taking a comparative approach and exploring the intersections of religious studies, international law, philosophy, and literature as well as the history of humanitarianism and human rights the conference will be organized along four leading key questions:

  1. Is the term “Humanity” used as a central point of reference in your sources? If this is the case, to what extend is the term connected to the emergence of normative concepts, implying moral and religious commandments, humanitarian obligations, international law, and human rights?
  2. Which differences and similarities can be identified in the context of various linguistic, cultural and political backgrounds? Are there any equivalent or alternative terms used?
  3. Which historical actors explicitly refer to the term “Humanity”? What was the purpose of doing so? Did it significantly contribute to overcome existing divisions, or did it rather foster the emergence of new differences?
  4. Finally, what transformations of the definition and meaning of “Humanity” can be identified within the period of these 400 years that the conference focuses on?

The conference will be taking place at the Leibniz Institute of European History in Mainz, Germany. For further information please contact Fabian Klose or Mirjam Thulin at or

‘Archival work and meetings at ICRC vital aspect of the Academy’ – Second Week of GHRA 2015 in Geneva

After the first week of academic training at the Leibniz Institute of European History in Mainz, the Global Humanitarianism Research Academy (GHRA) 2015 travelled for a week of research training and discussion with ICRC members to the Archives of the International Committee of the Red Cross in Geneva.

DSCN5071GHRA participants in the ICRC Archives

The First Day at Geneva started with an introduction to the public archives and library resources by ICRC staff. Jean-Luc Blondel, former Delegate, Head of Division, and currently Adviser to the Department of Communication and Information Management welcomed the group. Daniel Palmieri, the Historical Research Officer at the ICRC, and
Fabrizio Bensi, Archivist, explained the development of the holdings, particularly of the recently opened records from 1966-1975. The Librarian Veronique Ziegenhagen introduced the library with its encompassing publications on International Humanitarian Law, Human Rights, Humanitarian Action, international conflicts and crises. The ICRC also possesses a superb collection of photographs and films which Fania Khan Mohammad, Photo archivist, and Marina Meier, Film archivist explained.

In the afternoon, the GHRA group had the chance to discuss with Jacques Moreillon, Director General of the ICRC between 1984 and 1988. He gave a presentation on his long experience with special insights into Red Cross prison visits with political detainees. Dr Moreillon was one of the ICRC delegates to visit Nelson Mandela on Robben Island and shared his vivid memories with the participants.

GHRA 2015_110Jacques Moreillon, Honorary Member of the ICRC, at the GHRA 2015

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New Cooperation with icrchistory

New developments! On the occaison of our second week of the Global Humanitarianism Research Academy (GHRA) 2015 at the ICRC Archives in Geneva we agreed on a cooperation with the ICRC History blog. Thus, in the future you will find essential and topical information on our blog about one of the oldest humanitarian organizations.

DSCN5116Armband worn by Dr. Louis Appia on various battlefields, 1864,

International Red Cross and Red Crescent Museum Geneva

The aim of icrchistory is to present:

“The ICRC’s collections of books, sound recordings, films, videos and photos illustrate and document the activities of the ICRC from the end of the 19th century up to the present day, in all operational contexts. These archives and library have been continually expanded over more than 150 years and today represent a significant heritage in the field of humanitarian law and action. They preserve the memory of victims of armed conflicts and other situations of violence to which the ICRC has responded throughout its history.”

Additionally we would like point to these links which provide further information on the ICRC history.





Enjoy discovering the multiple aspects of the rich history of the ICRC!

First Week of the GHRA 2015

After the first part the Global Humanitarianism Research Academy (GHRA) 2015 at the Leibniz Institute of European History in Mainz the next week of academic training will take place at the Archives of International Committee of the Red Cross in Geneva.


Participants of the GHRA 2015

On Day One recent research and fundamental concepts of global humanitarianism were critically reviewed. Participants discussed crucial texts on the historiography of humanitarianism and human rights. Themes included the historical emergence of humanitarianism since the eighteenth century and the troubled relationship between humanitarianism, human rights, and humanitarian intervention. Further, twentieth century conjunctures of humanitarian aid and the colonial entanglements of human rights were discussed. Finally, recent scholarship on the genealogies of the politics of humanitarian protection and human rights since the 1970s was assessed, also with a view on the challenges for the 21st century.

During Day Two, participants presented their own Ph.D. and Postdoc projects while getting constructive collective Feedback. These projects showcased the richness and variety of research currently undertaken by a new generation of academics who are set to make a critical contribution to the field.

Day Three was reserved for the guest lecture by Professor Michael Geyer from the University of Chicago, who was talking on the Topic:  “Humanitarianism, Humanitarian Law, and Human Rights: A Difficult Relationship”. The ensuing lively discussion was enriched by the former Head of the ICRC Archives Jean-Luc Blondel who has been an ICRC delegate since 1982 and is a former regional delegate in Buenos Aires and special advisor to the previous ICRC president. During the afternoon, there was also the opportunity for individual tutorials by the GHRA leaders and free study time.


Michael Geyer, University of Chicago

During Day Four & Five the GHRA worked on the Online Atlas of Humanitarianism. This is an open access publication by the GHRA participants from successive years. The Online Atlas of Humanitarianism will consist of an interactive world map displaying ca. 50 locations in Africa, America, Asia, Australia and Europe, where significant events took place and shaped the development of humanitarianism and human rights in a crucial way. It will define key terms of both research fields and will display the worldwide entanglement of various places across geographical borders and historical epochs.The Online Atlas addresses a broader public. It is a valuable resource for those engaged in the field of humanitarian action and human rights as well as students and academics.

The GHRA 2015 is now travelling to Geneva to continue with archival research at the ICRC Archives.

Fabian Klose       Johannes Paulmann      Andrew Thompson


GHRA 2015: Michael Geyer’s Guest Lecture on “Humanitarianism, Humanitarian Law, and Human Rights”

The first Global Humanitarianism Research Academy (GHRA) will start tomorrow with one week of academic training at the Leibniz Institute of European History in Mainz before continuing with archival research at the ICRC Archives in Geneva.

On this occaison the GHRA has invited Prof. Dr. Michael Geyer (University of Chicago) to give a guest lecture on the Topic:

“Humanitarianism, Humanitarian Law, and Human Rights. A Difficult Relationship”


Michael Geyer is Samuel N. Harper Professor of German and European History and a founder of the Human Rights Program at the University of Chicago. His research interests fall into two parts: an inquiry of the place of human rights in early constitutionalism and the contemporary conundrum of a surfeit of human rights and humanitarian law vs. an actual lack of rights for individuals and people as well as the proliferation of humanitarian activism vs. the proliferation of misery and the inability to provide succor.

Prof. Geyer’s guest lecture will take place on Wednesday, July 15, 2015, from 09:00 – 10:00 a.m. at the Leibniz Institute of European History Mainz.

Exeter  IEG  ICRC  ghil

CfP: War, Peace and International Order? The Legacies of The Hague Conferences of 1899 and 1907

Interdisciplinary Conference: 19 April 2016 University of Auckland, New Zealand

Hosted By: The Faculty of Arts at the University of Auckland and the New Zealand Centre for Human Rights Law, Policy and Practice

Keynote Speakers: Professor Randall Lesaffer (Catholic University of Leuven), Dr William Mulligan (University College Dublin), Professor Neville Wylie (University of Nottingham)

Description: Between the various strands of scholarship there is a wide range of understandings of the two Hague Peace Conferences (1899 and 1907). Experts in international law posit that The Hague’s foremost legacy lies in the manner in which it progressed the law of war and international justice. Historians of peace and pacifism view the conferences as seminal moments that legitimated and gave a greater degree of relevance to international political activism. Cultural scholars tend to focus on the symbolic significance of The Hague and the Peace Palace as places for explaining the meaning of peace while diplomatic and military historians tend to dismiss the events of 1899 and 1907 as insignificant ‘footnotes en route to the First World War’ (N.J. Brailey).

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Tweeting the Foundation of the United Nations

On June 26, 1945, fifty nations signed the United Nations Charter in San Francisco. A delegate from each nation gave a short speech before signing the Charter. China signed first with its delegate, Dr. V. Wellington Koo, declaring that the world needed “trust & collaboration to make this greatest of international experiments a success.” The ceremony on June 26 represented the culmination of two months of work at the United Nations Conference on International Organization. But it also marked the start of years of work to create other UN agencies and to find a permanent home for the UN General Assembly.

The United Nations History Project has created a Twitter account to trace the founding of the United Nations in real time, seventy years later. The project started in late April with the opening of the San Francisco conference. On June 26, it will tweet the speeches of all fifty delegates. The project will continue over the next few years. Among other events, the Twitter feed will record the debates over the creation of the UN Declaration of Human Rights, the UN moving to New York, and the accession of new member states such as Poland.

The Twitter account aims to give a sense of the UN’s creation in real time. The UN did not just spring into being on June 26 when delegates signed the Charter. Its creation took years of negotiation and compromise. Follow the account (@UN_History) to see the UN’s development unfold!

First GHRA, 13-24 July 2015

In about four weeks the first Global Humanitarianism Research Academy (GHRA) will meet for one week of academic training at the Leibniz Institute of European History in Mainz before continuing with archival research at the ICRC Archives in Geneva.The Research Academy addresses early career researchers who are working in the related fields of humanitarianism, international humanitarian law, peace and conflict studies as well as human rights covering the period from the 18th to the 20th century. It supports scholarship on the ideas and practices of humanitarianism in the context of international, imperial and global history thus advancing our understanding of global governance in humanitarian crises of the present.

Poster GHRA

The GHRA received a huge amount of applications from an extremely talented group of scholars from more than fifteen different countries around the world. The selection committee considered each proposal very carefully and has selected these participants for the GHRA 2015:

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