Expansion, suspicion and the development of the International Committee of the Red Cross : 1939-45
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Australian journal of politics and history, Vol. 56, no. 3, 2010, p. 381-392
The International Committee of the Red Cross has often been maligned for its actions, or lack thereof, during the Second World War. In particular the Committee has been criticised for its apparent inability to compromise its mandate to provide impartial and non-politicised relief. This article discusses some of the problems of this interpretation of ICRC history by showing that, contrary to the image of the ICRC as a "well-meaning amateur", the Committee responded to the challenges of the Second World War with a series of bold initiatives that were crucial to the organisation's long-term development. Not only did these initiatives improve the success of the ICRC's humanitarian mission, but they also stand as testament to an organisation that, though devoid of diplomatic status and political power, was able to conduct its work whilst being restricted by the policies of belligerent governments and the physical dangers of total war.