In this interview, we talk with Irène Herrmann about her latest book. Humanitarian action may be considered as one of the most popular phenomena of our time. But what exactly does it cover? Where does it come from? What are its objectives? What obstacles does it encounter? And what does the dominant position it occupies today mean? The history of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) provides answers that are as counter-intuitive as they are enlightening. By recounting four key moments in the history of this institution, it is clear that the humanitarian movement has only recently become very much in vogue. The ideal of compassion is inseparable from nationalism and colonialism. Moreover, it is not totally disinterested, and it is this characteristic that has enabled it to endure. Likewise, it is subject to many limitations, which constitute the very condition of its existence. Finally, the current notoriety of the concept is mainly the result of lexical overuse, which can alter the political game or... scientific research.
About the MWP Multidisciplinary Research Workshop:
What is the ideological background behind the birth of humanitarian interventions? What legal theories have been employed to support it? And how have various political and economic interests interacted with and drawn upon the normatively appealing concepts of humanitarianism? Conversely, how has the notion of humanitarianism been used in resistance to powerful actors?
The aim of the workshop is to explore humanitarian intervention as a key phenomenon in the birth and development of internationalism from diverse disciplinary perspectives. The workshop will critically examine the historical, political, and legal implications of humanitarian interventions from the past to the present.
The workshop is organized as a series of three discussions with renowned speakers who have worked on the topic of humanitarian intervention from different angles with the co-conveners acting as discussants.