Dunant’s Dream: War, Switzerland and the History of the Red Cross by Caroline Moorehead - review by Brian Phillips

Brian Phillips

When Neutrality Becomes a Cause for Scandal

Dunant’s Dream: War, Switzerland and the History of the Red Cross


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Fort anyone who has ever worked for an international humanitarian, human rights or development organisation, Caroline Moorehead’s engrossing history of the Red Cross describes familiar problems: the internal political wrangling; the clash of strong-willed personalities; the tensions between international headquarters and local branches; the perpetual disagreements over strategy and message. All these appeared during the Red Cross’s first half-century after the drafting of the initial Geneva Convention of 1864.

Moorehead’s study deftly illustrates that many of the moral and political dilemmas which continue to challenge such giant non-governmental organisations as Oxfam and Amnesty International are precisely those which the stolid, affluent Calvinists who steered the International Committee of the Red Cross for generations were wrestling with more than a

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