Q&A: What Can Red Cross Records Say About History of Humanitarianism & Human Rights?

Cross-posted from http://imperialglobalexeter.com/

15/09/14

An Imperial & Global Forum Interview

Professor Richard Toye (RT) interviews Centre Director Andrew Thompson (AT). Professor Thompson recently returned from an archival visit to the ICRC and would like to thank Jean-Luc Blondel and his colleagues for their assistance and guidance.

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RT: Andrew, you’ve recently come back from Geneva, where you’ve been doing some archival research. What were you looking at and why?

AT: I was looking at two sets of files in the archives of the International Committee of the Red Cross that have not yet been publicly released. The first on the Nigeria-Biafran War – a watershed in the history of the ICRC as well as a conflict that has been aptly described as the “crucible of modern humanitarianism”. I hope to be the first scholar to reconstruct in detail what one of the largest post-war relief operations actually looked and felt like on the ground. Second, I was looking at their files related to Aden as part of a parallel interest in the relationship between humanitarianism and human rights and the ICRC’s work on behalf of political detainees. Aden brought to a head many issues regarding the status of such detainees that had been simmering for several years.

RT: Stephanie Decker has recently suggested that historians need to be more explicit about how and why they use archives in order to help explain their work to people in other disciplines.[1] What are the advantages of this kind of evidence for understanding the problems of humanitarianism? Continue reading

The ICRC Archives is Opening its Records from 1966-1975

Dr. Jean-Luc Blondel, Head of the Archives and Information Management Division, International Committee of the Red Cross

Cross-posted from http://imperialglobalexeter.com/

25/08/14

Biafra ICRCNigeria. Biafra conflict. M’Baise province (team 16). Arrival of relief supplies. Public 1969 © CICR / WITH, R.

Since its founding in 1863, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has been aware of the importance of keeping a record of its work and of its legacy – in the form of paper and audiovisual archives – to preserve the memories and knowledge of its past and to lay the foundation for its current and future work. Over time, the organization has amassed an outstanding and unique collection that encompasses its own history as well as the history of international humanitarian law and humanitarian action in general.

In January 1996, the ICRC decided to open its archives to the public in broad chronological sections at a time. By shortening the protective embargo on its archives, the ICRC was able to open the 1951-1965 records in 2004, thereby adding to the sources in its collection available for consultation by the public. From January 2015, the 1966-1975 archives will also be open to outside researchers. Continue reading

ICRC Exhibition “Humanizing War?”

On the occasion of the founding of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in 1863, and the signing of the first Geneva Convention in 1864, Geneva’s museums of art and history are presenting the exhibition “Humanizing War? ICRC – 150 years of humanitarian action“. The aim of this major exhibition is to show the various challenges the  ICRC has faced at different times and in the light of parallel developments in the nature of conflicts and violence.

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The concept of the exhibition is to focus on humanitarian action by the ICRC over 150 years by showing the development of:

• conflicts and the context of violence;

• the identities of victims and the kinds of violence they suffer;

• the ICRC’s work methods and resources, both technical and human. Continue reading

First Anniversary of hhr-blog

It is exactly one year ago that we have started our blog on the history of humanitarianism and human rights. In our first blog post we wondered where our idea will lead us…

 

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Ever since we have invited academics around the world to join us in creating this kind of online network to articulate ideas, to exchange information, to present perspectives from different backgrounds, and to share the same interest in these prospering fields of historical research.

We have received an overwhelming positive response from our colleagues and thanks to their manifold contribution hhr-blog has attracted so far the interest of more than 22000 people around the world. At the moment over 2500 readers are visiting hhr-blog every month!

On this occasion we would like to say thank you very much to all of your contributions and your interest in reading our blog.

We will keep on posting and hope you will stay with us!

Best regards,

Fabian Klose and Johannes Paulmann

United Nations History Project and Human Rights

The United Nations and international organizations in general are a growing field of historical interest and research. The United Nations History Project coordinated by Heidi J. S. Tworek, Lecturer on History and Assistant Director of Undergraduate Studies at Harvard University, provides a great starting point for every scholar who wants to research in UN archives and seeks to find online materials related to the United Nations. The website collates various research guides concerning the United Nations, offers syllabi and teaching material on UN topics as well as timelines, bibliographies and various sources on thirteen major UN history themes. The project seeks to connect scholars and archivists as well as to list existing academic networks for those working on similar topics. Thus, the project explicitly welcomes “contributions relating to archives, scholarly networks, and syllabi in English and other UN languages.”

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Continue reading

Imperial & Global Forum, University of Exeter

You may have already noticed that from time to time we cross-post contributions of the Imperial & Global Forum. This is the excellent blog of the Centre for Imperial and Global History at the History Department of the University of Exeter, which comprises of one of the largest groups of imperial and global historians currently working in the UK. Edited by Marc-William Palen the blog connects in a significant way historians working in this research field and offers a dynamic exploration of imperial history.

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Continue reading

Project on the School of Salamanca at the Academy of Sciences and Literature in Mainz

This promising new project has been launched recently http://salamanca.adwmainz.de/index.php?id=1756&L=1 at the Academy of Sciences and Literature in Mainz. Apart from a digital edition of key texts the project is develloping a historical dictionary of the School of Salamanca’s juridical and political language, which will be very useful for scholars working on the history of humanitarianism and human rights.

Another blog on issues of humanitarianism

In one of my last entries I have referred to the interesting blog of the journal humanity (http://www.humanityjournal.org/blog) with its manifold contributions on the issue of human rights and humanitarianism.

Today I would like to recommend the blog:

Displacement Activity

The history & historiography of forced migration, humanitarianism, and sometimes even human rights

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The blog is run by Jared Manasek, a PhD candidate in the department of history at Columbia University. Launched in 2012 Displacement Activity provides various useful information about articles, books, call for papers, conferences, fellowships and reviews concerning the issues of refugees and humanitarian history. Enjoy discovering Jared Manasek’s blog!

Berlin Research Network “Recht im Kontext”

Since October 2009 exists the research network Recht im Kontext at the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin (Institute for Advanced Study), funded by the state of Berlin. Recht im Kontext aims at a better re-contextualization of the law among its neighboring disciplines. It seeks to initiate new forms of dialogue and to create discursive structures between the law, the humanities and social sciences. This will confront the law and legal scholarship with other disciplines’ concept(s) and perception(s) of law. The research network also launches a blog entitled Verfassungsblog. On Matters Constitutional.

The spokesman of Recht im Kontext is Christoph Möllers, Professor of Public Law and Jurisprudence, Faculty of Law, Humboldt-University Berlin. The academic coordination of the research network is in the hands of Alexandra Kemmerer.

One essential topic of Recht im Kontext is the question of human dignity and rights. Between June 20 and 21, there will be a conference on “The Concept of Human Dignity in a Comparative Perspective – Cases and Developments”. As soon as there is more information about the event, we shall post the program. For now please have a look at the schedule of the research network.

Welcome to the hhr-blog

While participating in the conference “Rezensieren, Kommentieren, Bloggen” (http://rkb.hypotheses.org/) in February 2013 at the Siemens Stiftung in Munich we got the idea that it might be worth to start our own academic blog on the two entangled and prospering research fields of humanitarianism and human rights. After discussing the issue with colleagues of the Leibniz Institute of European History (IEG) in Mainz, we recently decided together to start this blog as an experiment without knowing exactly where it will lead us.

At present, many young international scholars, including several colleagues here at the IEG, conduct research on their own which extends or differentiates the debate on the sources and trajectories of humanitarian norms and human rights. By creating this blog we want to give them a forum to get closer in contact with each other, to articulate their ideas, to exchange information and knowledge, to present perspectives from different backgrounds, and to share the same interest on the history of humanitarianism and human rights. Therefore, we would like to invite all academics around the world to participate in creating this kind of online network following the good tradition of scholarly correspondence and collegial cooperation. Let’s see where it will lead us…

 

Fabian Klose                           Johannes Paulmann