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Historical research: ICRC and University of Basel sign cooperation agreement

08-05-2014 News Release 14/77

Geneva/Basel (ICRC) – Christine Beerli, vice-president of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), and Antonio Loprieno, rector of the University of Basel, signed an agreement today to strengthen scientific cooperation between the two institutions in the fields of history and humanitarian affairs.

The agreement establishes a framework that will facilitate the consultation of and access to ICRC archives for researchers from the university. The Institute for European Global Studies, which is affiliated with the university, and the ICRC's archives division will be in charge of implementing the accord. "One of the greatest challenges for a modern university is to develop ties with civil society," said Prof. Loprieno. "For the University of Basel it is a privilege to have been selected by the ICRC to develop joint scientific projects."

In January 2015, the ICRC will open its records from the period 1966-1975 to the public. This is therefore a particularly opportune time to strengthen cooperation with the academic world by facilitating access for students preparing masters' degrees or doctorates to archived material being made available by the ICRC on its activities and on the contexts in which it carried out, and in some cases still is carrying out, its work.

"The ICRC intends to pay greater attention to research conducted on the basis of its archives by historians, political scientists and other investigators who focus at least in part on our organization as an object of study," said Ms Beerli.

Under the rules governing access to the ICRC archives, the organization imposes a closure period of 40 years on internal documents and general files, and of 60 years on files containing personal or medical information and on card files, lists and general documents from the ICRC's Central Tracing Agency.

Today's signing of a cooperation agreement – taking place on World Red Cross and Red Crescent Day – holds out the promise of exchanges that could lead to the publication of new work using the study of the past to achieve a better understanding of present-day conflicts.

For further information, please contact:
David-Pierre Marquet, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 22 730 25 02 or +41 79 536 92 48