Is Neutral Humanitarianism Dead? Red Cross Neutrality: Walking the Tightrope of Neutral Humanitarianism

Document Type


Department or Administrative Unit

Political Science

Publication Date



Some have suggested that neutral humanitarianism is dead in the aftermath of the Cold War and 9/11. This article challenges the critical view called neo-humanitarianism and suggests that organizations such as the ICRC can carefully carve out an image of relative neutrality. This article argues that the difficulties associated with neutrality are not new and the ICRC has been grappling with them for decades. Various examples from history, including the Italian-Ethiopian War, World War II, and the Korean War, suggest the various complexities associated with neutrality. The fundamental focus of this article is how to construct an image and policies that are perceived to be relatively neutral in order to allow access to victims in need of humanitarian assistance and protection.


This article was originally published in Human Rights Quarterly. The full-text article from the publisher can be found here.

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Human Rights Quarterly


© 2009 by The Johns Hopkins University Press