Andrew Thompson

University of Exeter

Andrew Thompson is Professor of Modern History at the University of Exeter and Director of Exeter’s Centre for Imperial and Global History, a Council Member of the Arts and Humanities Research Council, and an Honorary Professor at the University of South Africa in Pretoria.

  • “Restoring hope where all hope was lost”: Nelson Mandela, the ICRC and the protection of political detainees in apartheid South Africa

    Amidst the violent upheavals of the end of empire and the Cold War, international organizations developed a basic framework for holding State and non-State armed groups to account for their actions when taking prisoners. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) placed itself at the very centre of these developments, making detention visiting a cornerstone of its work. Nowhere was this growing preoccupation with the problem of protecting detainees more evident than apartheid South Africa, where the ICRC undertook more detention visits than in almost any other African country. During these visits the ICRC was drawn into an internationalized human rights dispute that severely tested its leadership and demonstrated the troubled rapport between humanitarianism and human rights. The problems seen in apartheid South Africa reflect today’s dilemmas of how to protect political detainees in situations of extreme violence. We can look to the past to find solutions for today’s political detainees − or “security detainees” as they are now more commonly called.

  • Announcement: Professor Andrew Thompson joins the Editorial Board of the International Review of the Red Cross

    The editorial team of the Review is pleased to announce that Professor Andrew Thompson has joined the journal's Editorial Board. Andrew Thompson is the Chief Executive of the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council and Professor of Modern History at the University of Exeter. He joined the University of Exeter in 2011, having previously held a Chair in Imperial and Global History at the University of Leeds where he was Dean of the Faculty of Arts and then Pro-Vice Chancellor for Research.

  • Humanitarian principles put to the test: Challenges to humanitarian action during decolonization

    This article examines the meaning and purpose of the Fundamental Principles of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement during and after decolonization. This was a period when the character of conflict experienced far-reaching changes, when the limitations of international humanitarian law were sharply exposed, and when humanitarian organizations of all kinds – the International Committee of the Red Cross included – redefined their missions and mandates. The Fundamental Principles were caught up in these processes; subject to a resurgent State sovereignty, they were both animated and constrained by the geopolitical forces of the era. The article pays particular attention to the politicization of the Principles in the contexts of colonial counter-insurgency, political detention and transfers of power.