Only over the last few decades has humanitarian interventions acquired a major, visible role in contexts of armed warfare. International humanitarianism, however, has a much longer history. This book explains how rescue and aid operations have become an important part of national and supranational institutions’ activities and non-governmental organisations’ programmes, thus affecting the relationship between Western countries and the rest of the world. The author’s historical account highlights a set of crucial events ¬– including colonial conquests, two world wars, the rise of the third world – and describes the major actors of rescue and aid operations (Red Cross, Save the Children, United Nations agencies, Doctors Without Borders) and how the meaning of international humanitarianism has changed over time.
Silvia Salvatici teaches Contemporary History at the University of Teramo.