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The humanitarian diplomacy of the International Committee of the Red Cross

01-01-2006 Article, by Marion Harroff-Tavel

This article was first published in (2006) African Yearbook on International Humanitarian Law, pp 1 – 16 and reproduced with the kind authorization of the editors.


The ICRC’s humanitarian diplomacy is a strategy for influencing the parties to armed conflicts and others - States, non-State actors and members of civil society. Its purpose is purely humanitarian and it is carried out through a network of sustained relationships - bilateral and multilateral, official and informal. The author begins by describing the ICRC’s specific features as a subject of international law and what is different about its humanitarian diplomacy (and the manner in which its delegates conduct it) when compared with the diplomacy of States. She then depicts the challenges with which our changing world is presenting the ICRC - the shifting roles and conduct of the various actors on the international stage; the decision by some States to adopt an integrated approach in the political, military and humanitarian spheres; the information technology revolution - and what the organization is doing to meet those challenges.


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 Note : The original of this article was published in French in Relations internationales , No. 121, Spring (January-March) 2005, pp. 72-89.