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  • Ethics & International Affairs, Volume 7
  • March 1993, pp. 131-151

Choices More Ethical Than Legal: The International Committee of the Red Cross and Human Rights1


It may come as a surprise to many that the ICRC was the first agency established representing the International Red Cross and Red Crescent network to protect and assist victims of war and victims of politics. This article explores the ineffective consequences of international laws overseeing such victims and argues that proper implementation of these laws requires policy, without which laws can never be executed. ICRC has often coordinated relief for victims in such places as Somalia and Bosnia, in fact more than all the UN agencies combined, when the rest of the world was still ignoring them. When law is silent, and often during war time it is, human rights policies must be built on ethical choice.

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Andre Durand , The International Committee of the Red Cross (Geneva: ICRC, 1981

David P. Forsythe , The Internationalization of Human Rights (New York: Macmillan [The Free Press, Lexington Books], 1991)

David P. Forsythe , “Who Guards the Guardians: Third Parties and the Law of Armed Conflict,” American Journal of International Law 70 (January 1976), 4161

Adam Roberts , “Prolonged Military Occupation: The Israeli-Occupied Territories Since 1967,” American Journal of International Law 84 (January 1990), 44103

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Ethics & International Affairs
  • ISSN: 0892-6794
  • EISSN: 1747-7093
  • URL: /core/journals/ethics-and-international-affairs
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