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A new challenge or a new role? The ICRC in Northern Ireland

31-12-2012 Article, International Review of the Red Cross, No. 888, by Geoff Loane

This article examines the face of modern humanitarianism outside of armed conflict, its dilemmas, and provides analysis as to why the ICRC has a role in the Northern Ireland context.

Abstract

Despite the narrative of success surrounding the Northern Ireland peace process, which culminated in the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, there remain significant humanitarian consequences as a result of the violence. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has opened an office in Belfast after its assessments demonstrated a need for intervention. While a two-year ‘dirty protest’ in Northern Ireland’s main prison has been recently resolved, paramilitary structures execute punishments, from beatings to forced exile and even death, outside of the legal process and in violation of the criminal code. This article examines the face of modern humanitarianism outside of armed conflict, its dilemmas, and provides analysis as to why the ICRC has a role in the Northern Ireland context.

Biography

Geoff Loane is the Head of Mission for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in the United Kingdom and Ireland, where he manages relations with government, the military, and key humanitarian and civil society stakeholders. He was formerly Head of the ICRC’s regional delegation in Washington for five years, and has worked with the ICRC for nearly thirty years.