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The Réveil and the Founding of the Red Cross

The Réveil and the Founding of the Red Cross

Chapter:
(p.35) Two The Réveil and the Founding of the Red Cross
Source:
Above the Fray
Author(s):
Shai M. Dromi
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226680385.003.0002

The early Red Cross movement promoted a controversial idea: establishing a sector of nongovernmental and impartial volunteer societies, which would be considered neutral parties on the battlefield. What convinced the Red Cross founders that this is an appropriate model for relief work? This chapter delves into the early genesis of the Red Cross in the 1860s and presents the theological origins of its proposal to organize a humanitarian sector. It focuses on the nineteenth-century Reformed Protestant Réveil movement and the social conditions in Geneva that led to the establishment and success of the movement there. The chapter shows that the principles the Red Cross espoused – impartiality, neutrality, permanence – were rooted in the religious convictions of its founding members about the nature of war, the agency of humankind in alleviating its effects, and the proper relationship between the state and civil associations. The chapter demonstrates how those principles became embedded in the legal and organizational structures of the humanitarian field.

Keywords:   International Committee of the Red Cross, Geneva Convention, Réveil, Calvinism, impartiality, neutrality, humanitarianism, Gustave Moynier, social fields, institutional emergence

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