Navigating the profits and pitfalls of governmental partnerships: the ICRC and intergovernmental relief, 1918-23.

Disasters

PubMedID: 26395109

Lowe KA. Navigating the profits and pitfalls of governmental partnerships: the ICRC and intergovernmental relief, 1918-23. Disasters. 2015;39 Suppl 2s204-18.
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is today a staunch proponent of the need for humanitarian organisations to remain independent of state interests, yet it deliberately solicited intergovernmental intervention in international relief after the First World War of 1914-18. This paper examines why an organisation committed to upholding the independence and impartiality of humanitarian action might still choose to partner with governmental bodies. It also highlights the historical beginnings of a linkage between international aid and geopolitics. To secure governmental funding for refugee relief during the 1920s, the ICRC argued that the humanitarian crises of the post-war years were a threat to the political and social stability of Europe. While this has become axiomatic, the interwar history of the ICRC demonstrates that the perceived connection between relief and geopolitical stability is historically constructed, and that it must continue to be asserted persuasively to be effective.