Post tenebras lux: New perspectives on the foundation of the Red Cross

  • Daniel Palmieri
Part of the Neuere Medizin- und Wissenschaftsgeschichte book series (NMW, volume 20)


The origins of the Red Cross Movement and of the modern international humanitarian law are closely connected to the conclusions of Henry Dunant’s famous book, Un Souvenir de Solférino, edited in 1862. After his traumatic experience among the wounded soldiers abandoned on the battlefield, Dunant suggested that voluntary relief societies should be established to care for the injured people in military operations. Furthermore, he proposed that an international principle be created to serve as the basis for these charitable societies. The success of this work was immediate and gave rise to concrete realisations. New legal regulations were elaborated, discussed in Geneva during two international conferences in 1863 and 18642 and then internationally adopted to limit the impetuousness and the deadly cleverness of the belligerents. A worldwide network of national relief societies was also progressively established under the emblem of the Red Cross in order to bring assistance to the wounded soldiers in wartime. In this double process of humanization of war, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) played an essential role, and became the mainspring of this new «military philanthropy».


International Committee Geneva Convention Double Process Compulsory Military Service Wounded Soldier 
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Copyright information

© Centaurus Verlag & Media UG 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Daniel Palmieri
    • 1
  1. 1.International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)GenèveSwitzerland

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