Humanitarian diplomacy as moral history

Article published in Peacebuilding

Published in Peacebuilding, this article “Humanitarian diplomacy as moral history” by Costas M. Constantinou interrogates the practice of humanitarian diplomacy by focusing on the history of the Red Cross Movement.

The article “approaches humanitarian diplomacy beyond its technical understanding as a neutral tool for advocating and negotiating on behalf of vulnerable people. It suggests that by flagging high moral purpose, diplomacy can employ the humanitarian logic to also pursue parallel objectives and ethically ambiguous goals. Specifically, the article examines the parallel diplomatic initiatives and business-colonial projects of the founding father of the Red Cross, Henry Dunant. It then assesses the Swiss legacy of neutrality and discreet diplomacy of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) vis-à-vis the advocacy of more vocal humanitarian organisations. It looks at the decolonisation of the Movement and pursuit of national objectives and assesses the shift from humanitarian to human rights diplomacy, and the moral tensions of pursuing one or the other, or approaching them as a continuum.”

Costas M. Constantinou is Professor of International Relations at the University of Cyprus and Visiting Fellow at the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development.

This article forms part of the project on “Humanitarian Diplomacy: Assessing Policies, Practices and Impact of New Forms of Humanitarian Action and Foreign Policy”, funded by the Research Council of Norway and led by  Antonio De Lauri, Research Professor at the Chr. Michelsen Institute.