Vincent Bernard

Vincent Bernard


Vincent BERNARD is editor in chief of the International Review of the Red Cross, a leading academic journal on humanitarian law, policy and action published by the ICRC and Cambridge University Press. He is also the head of the Law and Policy Forum, which leads ICRC’s engagement with expert audiences interested in teaching, researching and debating international humanitarian law (IHL). The unit runs the Humanitarium conference center in Geneva, the new Humanitarian Law and Policy blog, the IHL online training center etc. Vincent joined the ICRC in 1998 and worked in the field for 6 years in Dakar, Nairobi and Jerusalem. As head of the ICRC’s field communication set-up from 2006 to 2010 he travelled and worked in most of ICRC’s operational contexts. Prior to joining the organization, Vincent studied political science, law and international relations at the Political Science Institute and Law Faculty in Strasburg, The King’s College, London and the Graduate Institute of International Studies in Geneva, and taught law at the University of Marmara in Istanbul.

  • Editorial: Conflict in Syria: Finding hope amid the ruins

    Humanity has been undergoing a trial of fire and blood in Syria since 2011. What is happening? Over time, this conflict has exhibited all possible guises of war: civil war, proxy war, siege warfare, cyber-warfare and war against terror. All forms of past and present warfare seem to converge in this one conflict. A war against children, against hospitals, against cities, against first-aid workers, against memory, against justice – maybe these are more accurate titles for this war.

  • Editorial: The missing

    Every day, people go missing amidst conflict and violence, or on the paths of exile, displacement or migration. Meanwhile, those whose loved ones went missing in the past continue to live with their pain, unable to heal. Long after the wars or disasters are over, the wounded have been cared for and the new have been homes built upon the ruins of the old ones, the suffering of people whose loved ones are missing lingers on, the last open wound.

  • Editorial: Migration and displacement: Humanity with its back to the wall

    Crowds of people on the move with their bundles of possessions, young men frantically scaling fences, boatloads of women and children pummelled by the waves, bodies washed up the beach, camps with endless rows of tents and chaotic shanty towns stretching as far as the eye can see, transit centres where hopes fade, humiliated workers forced to do jobs nobody else wants, mothers waiting a lifetime in vain for news of daughters or sons who left to seek their fortune elsewhere. These are some of the images that might come to mind when picturing the plight of uprooted people around the world.

  • Editorial: Out of sight, out of mind? Exposing the human cost of detention

    The conditions in which detainees are being held and the way they are treated are worsening in several countries, while the rest of the world turns a blind eye. Life for these detainees is a nightmare. Limited resources, punitive criminal justice policies and malfunctioning judicial systems lead to a host of problems: overcrowded cells or, conversely, solitary confinement in high-security prisons; violence and drugs; torture, ill-treatment and the absence of legal safeguards; a lack of hygiene, food, care and, at the end of the day, dignity.

  • Editorial: War and security at sea - warning shots

    Naval warfare and maritime security may seem a surprising theme to choose for the Review today. As a matter of fact, in the last few years most discussion about humanitarian law and action has centred on other spaces such as the arid reaches of Central Asia and the Sahel, urban areas in the Middle East, or even cyberspace, rather than the seas.

  • Editorial: War in Cities: the Spectre of Total War

    A scene of devastation, blanketed with grey dust, stretches into the distance in eerie silence. Walls riddled with bullets, buildings collapsing in on themselves, external walls blown away to reveal an intimate view of a bedroom or living room, streets blocked by piles of rubble. These sickening images of destruction – filmed from above by drones and shared on social media – probably best symbolize the current resurgence in urban warfare. Other images come to mind: bombed-out hospitals, children being pulled from wreckage, snipers roaming the maze of tunnels and walkways that have been blasted through the walls of now-uninhabited houses.

  • Editorial: The evolution of warfare

    Armed conflict has been defined as “the logical outcome of an attempt of one group to protect or increase its political, social and economic welfare at the expense of another group”. There is no need to be an expert or a prophet to predict that humanity is far from finished with it. For those who want to help limit the effects of violence, understanding and anticipating the evolution of war remains a necessity.

  • Editorial: The human cost of nuclear weapons

    It is estimated that approximately 340,000 people died immediately and within the five years following the bombs being dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki on 6 and 9 August 1945. From the day of the bombing to today, the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement (the Movement) has been responding to the needs of victims and has been consistent in its opposition to the use of nuclear weapons.

  • Editorial: Principles guiding humanitarian action

    On the eve of the 50th anniversary of the adoption of the Fundamental Principles of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement (the Movement) and the 32nd International Conference of the Movement at the end of 2015, as well as the World Humanitarian Summit in early 2016, several initiatives are under way to study the contemporary practice and impact of the Fundamental Principles, and to reaffirm their relevance. The Review decided to contribute to this research and debate, both by soliciting contributions from experts and practitioners in this thematic issue, and in the context of the International Committee of the Red Cross’s (ICRC) Second Research and Debate Cycle on Principles Guiding Humanitarian Action throughout 2015, which has hosted a number of substantive discussions on the Principles.

  • Editorial: Time to take prevention seriously

    The International Review of the Red Cross seeks to address urgent humanitarian issues, with a view to offering solutions: beyond the necessary repressive or remedial measures, it is striking to note how many contributions in our pages actually point to the need to prevent certain patterns of violence and even put a halt to human suffering. These are not only calls for respect of human life and dignity; often, authors include practical suggestions on ways to achieve it. For instance, recent international efforts to address the issues of violence against health care1 and sexual violence in armed conflict have put forward a series of measures that States and non-State actors can put in place to translate the relevant legal provisions into practice, train relevant personnel on that basis, or educate the public at large.