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An institution standing the test of time? A review of 150 years of the history of the International Committee of the Red Cross

31-12-2012 Article, International Review of the Red Cross, No. 888, by Daniel Palmieri


This article seeks to explain how the ICRC – the oldest international humanitarian organization still in activity – has managed to pass through 150 years of existence. By analysing some key moments in ICRC history and by examining both its inner workings and their interaction with the context within which the organization has functioned over time, this article finds two characteristics that may help explain the ICRC’s continuity: its unique specificity and its innovative capacity.


Daniel Palmieri is the historical research officer at the ICRC. He is the author of numerous works on ICRC history and on the history of war.