Abstract

This article examines the role of the Red Cross network in the inter-war years of 1919 to 1939 in Europe and the Middle East, as that network responded to civilian distress, particularly in the form of refugees and internally displaced persons. The article suggests that while the founding Red Cross agency, the International Committee of the Red Cross, has become known especially for its prisoner visits in war and other situations of violence, its protective efforts for civilians in the inter-war years has been important but largely unrecognized. ICRC efforts laid the foundation for expanded law and diplomacy for refugees and IDPs in the UN era. Protection of refugees is usually seen as part of modern human rights affairs. To be sure, one cannot comprehend assistance to civilians after the Great War without attention to a wide variety of actors, including the League of Nations, American Red Cross, Save the Children, etc. But, as the article argues (and documents), the ICRC was central to developments, utilizing its reputation and diplomatic contacts to expand the first organized international response to civilian distress on a large scale. This was especially evident in Eastern Europe and the declining Ottoman Empire, where Russian and Armenian civilians were the main beneficiaries of much activity. The author utilizes a number of primary sources, some in French, to develop the article.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1085-794X
Print ISSN
0275-0392
Pages
pp. 61-90
Launched on MUSE
2018-02-09
Open Access
No
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