‘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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JP Daughton on the Dark Roots of Humanitarianism

In a study of the history of the French colonial Congo-Océan Railway, the Stanford historian JP Daughton investigates how modern humanitarianism arose from the brutality of European colonialism.

You will find an interesting article on Daughton’s research @:


Essay: Frieden durch Krieg?

Sandrine Mayoraz, Frithjof Benjamin Schenk, and Ueli Mäder have just published the volume Hundert Jahre Basler Friedenskongress (1912-2012). Die erhoffte „Verbrüderung der Völker”, Basel/Zürich 2015. The edited volume is the result of an international conference held at the University of Basel from November 22 to 24, 2012 on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the 1912 Basel International Socialist Peace Congress. The complete German volume with various contribution on the question of war and peace is now available online @:



In my own contribution „Frieden durch Krieg? Zur Janusköpfigkeit militärischer Interventionspraxis im langen 19. Jahrhundert“ (Peace by War? The Janus-faced character of Military Intervention in the long 19th Century) I am focusing on the practice of humanitarian intervention throughout the long 19th century. The essay examines the question whether humanitarian interventions were able to contribute to international peacekeeping or whether they were not in fact an instrument of imperial power, under the guise of humanitarianism. Its aim is to consider the Janus-faced character of humanitarian intervention and to examine the consequences of this for international relations.

You will find my essay @: http://sozarch7.uzh.ch/daten/Friedenskongress_Klose.pdf

The Future of the Past: Shining the Light of History on the Challenges Facing Principled Humanitarian Action

Cross-Posted from imperialglobalexeter

Andrew Thompson History Department, University of Exeter

Even as Red Cross and Red Crescent societies around the world mark the 50th anniversary of the adoption of the movement’s Fundamental Principles, there is a palpable sense that they are at risk. Threatened not only by the resurgence of state sovereignty and proliferation of non-state armed groups, the very universality of the principles may be in question. As the twenty-first century draws on, are the principles of ‘impartiality’, ‘neutrality’ and ‘independence’ still fit for purpose as Western influence wanes and the nature of conflict itself rapidly evolves?

The Red Cross’ principles have marinated in a century and a half of humanitarian history. That history matters. The past helps us to understand how different types of threat to humanitarian principles have emerged from different types of conflict and geopolitical environments. History also sheds light on how, despite such obstacles, the principles came to acquire the public prominence and moral authority they currently possess.


Food distribution, Pakistan. ICRC / Muhammad, N.

Where did the Fundamental Principles come from?

The principles were first articulated by the Swiss jurist and co-founder of the international Red Cross, Gustave Moynier. His four principles of the 1870s ‒ ‘centralisation’, ‘foresight’, ‘mutuality’ and ‘solidarity’ ‒ were more firmly focused around the role of the national societies and their relation to the ICRC and each other.

Right from the get-go, the idea of giving aid based purely on the needs of the suffering, irrespective of religious, ethnic or political affiliation, was built into the Geneva Conventions. Article 6 of the 1864 Convention stated that wounded or sick combatants would be collected and cared for regardless of nationality.

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Humanitarianism & the Media


At St Antony’s College Oxford, the Richard von Weizsäcker fellow organizes a conference on humanitarianism and aid. The meeting takes place at the European Studies Centre, 70 Woodstock Road, on 19 -20 June 2015. It focuses on the media as an essential feature of the history of humanitarianism. Contributors discuss both the role of the media in humanitarian activities, and the imagery produced in print or on screen. Scholars from history, media studies, and anthropology present recent research with a view on the visual discourse, the meanings and materiality of the images since the beginning of the 20th century. Critically considering the medialisation of the humanitarian, they analyse the interaction between humanitarian agencies and media actors.

Speakers and topics:
(Detailed Programme Hum & Media 2015)

Johannes Paulmann (Oxford/ Mainz)

I Humanitarian Imagery

Katharina Stornig (Mainz)
Promoting Distant Children in Need: Christian Imagery in the Late Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries

Rose Holmes (Sussex)
‘Make the situation real to us without stressing the horrors': Children, photography and British humanitarianism in the Spanish Civil War

Daniel Palmieri (ICRC, Geneva)
Humanitarianism on the Screen: The ICRC Films from the 1920’s to the 1960’s

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Wolfgang Schmale: Europe and Human Rights in 2015

Cross-posted from Wolfgang Schmale’s new blog “Mein Europa”

Die Europäische Union braucht ein großes Ziel – dieses Ziel soll lauten: „Machen wir Europa zum Kontinent der Menschenrechte!“

[1] Geschichtlich stand hinter den Menschenrechten der Gedanke, Menschen vor denjenigen zu schützen, die Macht besaßen und die diese unter Außerachtlassung der Regeln des guten Regierens ausübten. Diese Auffassung lässt sich in Europa ohne weiteres bis in das Mittelalter zurückverfolgen. Das „gute Regieren“ oder, wie in der frühen Neuzeit, die „gute Policey“ traf als Anspruch nicht nur auf den Herrscher zu, sondern im Prinzip auf alle, die Macht besaßen, also etwa Grundherren, Feudalherren. Die zu respektierenden fundamentalen Regeln fand man im göttlichen Recht, im Naturrecht und in einer Reihe offenkundiger Notwendigkeiten, die sich in der Idee eines Rechts auf Subsistenzsicherung zusammenfassen lassen. Einem Bauern seinen Ochsen und Pflug wegen Schulden zu pfänden, verstieß nicht nur moralisch dagegen, sondern es gab fast überall auch schriftlich fixierte Rechtsnormen, also positives einklagbares Recht, das das verbot.

[2] Den Bevölkerungen war die Durchsetzung dieser Regeln zahllose, oft gewaltsame Konflikte sowie teure Gerichtsprozesse wert. Man konnte darüber „seine Armut verrechten“, wie es in der frühen Neuzeit so treffend formuliert wurde, sprich, selbst Menschen mit geringem Einkommen beteiligten sich am Widerstand gegen Unrecht.


[3] Ab der Mitte des 17. Jahrhunderts wurde die rechtliche Substanz, die gemeint war, gelegentlich als „Menschenrecht“ bezeichnet, doch gängig und häufig wurde diese Bezeichnung erst im Zuge der Französischen Revolution. Sie ging mit einer Kanonbildung der Menschenrechte einher. Außerdem wurden die Regeln des guten Regierens auf die höchste Stufe von Verbindlichkeit und Verpflichtung angehoben – in Gestalt einer schriftlichen Verfassung, wie wir dies aus den nordamerikanischen Staaten, die sich zu den Vereinigten Staaten von Amerika zusammenschlossen, als auch von Frankreich 1789-1791 kennen. Die Kombination all dieser Faktoren, die das moderne Verfassungswesen kennzeichnen, ist erst für das späte und revolutionäre 18. Jahrhundert charakteristisch, auch wenn die Geschichte eine lange Reihe von Fundamentalgesetzen (Magna Charta und viele andere) aufweist, die als ferne Vorläufer schriftlicher Verfassungen gelten können.

[4] Die Erkämpfung und Durchsetzung von Grund- und Menschenrechten war ein blutiger Prozess. In der Französischen Revolution brachte es einmal ein einfacher Soldat (Nationalgardist) auf den Begriff: „Das Blut der Freiheit“ (s. unten Dokumentation).

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Exhibition and Lecture Series: Eine „innertürkische” Verwaltungsangelegenheit?

Eine „innertürkische Verwaltungsangelegenheit“?

Osmanisch-deutsche Verflechtungen und die “Armenier-Greuel” im Ersten Weltkrieg

Ausstellung vom 23.04.2015 – 21.05.2015

an der JGU Mainz, Philosophicum,

Durchgangsbereich der Bereichsbibliothek

Öffnungszeiten: Montag – Freitag 08.00 – 22.00 Uhr

“Über die Armeniergreuel ist folgendes zu sagen: Unsere freundschaftlichen Beziehungen zur Türkei dürfen durch diese innertürkische Verwaltungsangelegenheit nicht nur nicht gefährdet, sondern im gegenwärtigen, schwierigen Augenblick nicht einmal geprüft werden. Deshalb ist es einstweilen Pflicht, zu schweigen.” Mit diesen Worten suchte das Kriegspresseamt des deutschen Kaiserreiches im Oktober 1915 eine Berichterstattung über die Massaker an der armenischen Bevölkerung des Osmanischen Reiches seit dem Frühjahr 1915 in deutschen Zeitungen und Zeitschriften zu verhindern.


Im Frühsommer 2015 jährt sich der Völkermord an den Armeniern zum hundertjährigen Gedenken. Die deutsch-osmanische Verflechtungsgeschichte der „Armeniergreuel“ ist jedoch weitgehend in Vergessenheit geraten. Ziel der Ausstellung ist es, die vielfältigen militärischen, ökonomischen und diplomatischen Verstrickungen des Deutschen Reichs in den Völkermord sowohl auf persönlicher wie systematischer Ebene zu rekonstruieren und damit auch eine unbekannte Facette deutsch-osmanischer Geschichte zugänglich zu machen.

Begleitet wird die Ausstellung von einer Vortragsreihe.

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New Book: Anti-liberal Europe

Dieter Gosewinkel (ed.), Anti-liberal Europe. A Neglected Story of Europeanization, Berghahn, New York/Oxford 2015.

“The history of modern Europe is often presented with the hindsight of present-day European integration, which was a genuinely liberal project based on political and economic freedom. Many other visions for Europe developed in the 20th century, however, were based on an idea of community rooted in pre-modern religious ideas, cultural or ethnic homogeneity, or even in coercion and violence. They frequently rejected the idea of modernity or reinterpreted it in an antiliberal manner. Anti-liberal Europe examines these visions, including those of anti-modernist Catholics, conservatives, extreme rightists as well as communists, arguing that antiliberal concepts in 20th-century Europe were not the counterpart to, but instead part of the process of European integration.”




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Conference: Does Human Rights Have a History?

Cross-posted from: https://humanrights.uchicago.edu/HistoryConference2015

About the Conference: Does human rights have a history? As late as 1998 not a single reference to the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights had appeared in any article of the American Historical Review. But by 2006 the field had become prominent enough for the President of the American Historical Association to claim “we are all historians of human rights.” In this recent and very rapid development of the field, the fundamental premises of how we conceive of a history of human rights remain in flux and must be reconsidered:  when were “human rights” invented and what were the major stages of the evolution of their different elements? Rights talk emerged in early modern natural law theory, if not before, and played a famous role in early modern revolutions. But while humanitarian agendas sprouted throughout modern history, the international human rights regime began to take root only in the 1940s, and exploded to public prominence in the 1970s.


Do we then tell the longue durée of human rights history as an evolutionary narrative or one of sharp disjunctures and discontinuities? There are also critical substantive issues that remain unresolved. What counts as human rights history? What rights at particular times and places have been seen as human rights and what has made them visible in those moments? What leads ordinary people to band together to found initiatives to monitor human rights violations? When and under what conditions have states propounded and conformed to crucial cosmopolitan norms? Are human rights a Western discourse or are they rooted in a broader array of geographical, gendered and cultural contexts?

This conference draws together leading historians of human rights working across time and space to address these urgent questions. In doing so it honors the contributions of Michael Geyer, Samuel N. Harper Professor of German and European History and the College and a founder of the Human Rights Program at the University of Chicago, to the field of human rights history and to the development of interdisciplinary studies of human rights thought and practice at the University of Chicago.

Faculty Organizers PFCHR Faculty Director Mark Philip Bradley, Jane Dailey, Emily Osborn, Amy Dru Stanley, and Tara Zahra

Additional Support The University of Chicago Library, Center for East European and Russian/Eurasian Studies (CEERES), Center for International Studies (CIS), Department of Anthropology, and Department of History

Conference Schedule See the presenter biographies here.

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