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War and humanitarian aid in the 21st century

New technologies and global threats are transforming the way wars are fought. How are humanitarian organisations and the laws of war facing up to the challenge?

This content was published on January 25, 2022 - 12:00

Henry Dunant witnessed the horrors of the battle of Solferino in 1859. This gave birth to his vision for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the first Geneva Convention. But how relevant is his vision in the 21st century?

Podcast host Imogen Foulkes is joined in this episode by humanitarian and international law experts.

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“Outer space, cyberspace and information space. Warfare is dramatically spreading across three new surfaces,” says Hugo Slim, a senior research fellow at the University of Oxford. He is the author of Solferino 21, a book on the changing face of war and humanitarian work.

“The whole concept of humanitarianism, which was very religious at the time, has got to change, because the world has evolved since then,” says analyst Daniel Warner.

Do the laws of war still work?

“Instead of bringing help because of compassion, I think we should recognise that the victims of war have rights,” says Paola Gaeta, a professor of international law at the Graduate Institute in Geneva.

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