Ethics & International Affairs Volume 13 (1999): Special Section: The Humanitarian Identity Crisis: Humanity: Our Priority Now and Always: Response to "Principles Politics and Humanitarian Action" [Abstract]

Dec 4, 1999

Thomas Weiss oversimplifies when he identifies the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) with the classicist position of nonconfrontation. The ICRC defines humanitarian action to include advocacy through public and private channels to protect individuals and communities against violations of international humanitarian law. Weiss rightly points out the difficulty of making belligerents, or "unprincipled actors," understand the value of nonpartisan and impartial action. Still, the ICRC remains committed to finding new language for communicating the principles of humanitarian action and new techniques of negotiation. In this regard the ICRC is classicist. But this classicism places the ICRC on the side of the solidarists in defending the interests of individuals and communities in distress, and on the side of the maximalists in its advocacy of international humanitarian law.

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