Young Humanitarian Writers Competition launched to spread power of humanity

23 June 2015

The ICRC and the NPC launched today the Young Humanitarian Writers Competition, in commemoration of the battle of Solferino on 24 June 1859. It was this battle that led to the birth of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and international humanitarian law.

The Young Humanitarian Writers Competition, focusing on the theme Respecting Life and Human Dignity, aims to encourage young people to better understand and discuss issues related to international humanitarian law (IHL), humanitarian action and humanitarian principles. Organised by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and The National Press Club Malaysia, in cooperation with the Malaysian Red Crescent (MRC), the competition aims to raise awareness of the most pressing humanitarian challenges today.

The competition is inspired by Henry Dunant, who many say was the first citizen journalist. Dunant, then a young Swiss businessman, self-published the book A Memory of Solferino in 1862, detailing his personal account of the horrific scenes of the Battle of Solferino. Seeing tens of thousands dead and wounded left behind, Dunant was determined to provide care for injured and dying soldiers. It was this vision that led to the birth of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and Geneva Conventions, the main body of IHL.

The President of The National Press Club Malaysia, Mokhtar Hussain, emphasized that the competition is open to all writers aged between 18 and 30 in Malaysia and not just to journalists. "We would like to see young people getting involved in citizen journalism - so think fast, think sharp and produce quality humanitarian pieces!" said Mokhtar.

"2015 is a significant year for the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. 50 years ago, we adopted our seven Fundamental Principles, the foundation of our humanitarian action," said Jeremy England, head of the ICRC regional delegation in Kuala Lumpur. "Launching the competition this year has a special resonance for us as we commemorate the continuing relevance and importance of the Fundamental Principles in humanitarian service. These principles guide our decisions and work in all situations, allowing us to reach populations most in need and work alongside them."

The MRC secretary-general, Dato Sayed A. Rahman Sayed Mohd, recognized that many young people in Malaysia keep abreast of global current affairs and are passionate about humanitarian issues. "I hope this competition will encourage more young people to research and understand the issues related to IHL as well as humanitarian principles, and embrace the principles of humanity in thoughts and in writing."

Humanity, Impartiality, Neutrality, Independence, Voluntary Service, Unity and Universality – the seven Fundamental Principles of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement adopted in1965, are the pillars of the Movement's work in relieving human suffering, protecting life and health, and upholding human dignity especially during conflicts and other emergencies.

Largest humanitarian network in the world, the Movement is made up of the ICRC, the individual national Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies worldwide including MRC and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).

Contact details

For information on the competition, contact:
For media enquiries, contact: Chin Lili, ICRC Kuala Lumpur, tel: +603 2084 1807