Jean-Michel Turcotte - Just a Scrap of Paper? Western Military Officers, Humanitarianism and the Shaping of International Humanitarian Law, 1864–1907

Durée : 00:24:11 -Réalisation : 17 septembre 2021 -Mise en ligne : 17 septembre 2021
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This presentation takes alook at my new book project focusing on the history of the Geneva Conventions. The first Convention for the Amelioration of theCondition of the Wounded in Armies in the Field signed in August 1864has defined for first time the concept of international humanitarian law (IHL).The Convention, modified thereafter in 1906 and in the Hague Conventions,addressed humanitarian protection to soldiers and civilians in wartime.Scholars have often presented the development of IHL as the result of effortsmade by lawyers, jurists, diplomates, the International Committee of the RedCross—and other pacifist and internationalist actors in order to bringinghumanity in warfare. Military actors, however, though being directly involvedin international discussion as well as in the practice of IHL in war appear onlyon the margins of scholarship from both fields of humanitarianism and militaryhistory. Existing literature often argued that American and European militaryauthorities had opposed, or at least have been unsympathetic, to the IHL since1864 by advancing militarist arguments such as “military necessity” and the dangerof limiting their action on the battlefield, and by committing numerousviolations of IHL in wartime. My project challenges this argument byquestioning the role played by military experts, and high officers ininternational debates related to IHL. This research interests in the cases of theUnited States, Germany, France and Britain.


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