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Solferino, Henry Dunant e la fondazione del CICR[modifica | modifica wikitesto]

Fino alla metà del 19esimo secolo non esistevano società di soccorso sanitario ben organizzate od istituzioni per sistemare e curare i feriti in battaglia. Nel giugno del 1859, l'uomo d'affari svizzero Jean Henri Dunant andò in Italia per incontrare l'imperatore francese Napoleone III con l'intenzione di discutere le difficoltà nei suoi affari in Algeria, all'epoca occupata dalla Francia.
All'arrivo nella piccola città di Solferino, la sera del 24 giugno, incorse nella Battaglia di Solferino, un combattimento della Seconda guerra d'indipendenza italiana. In un sol giorno, circa 40'000 soldati di entrambi gli schieramenti perirono o furono lasciati feriti sul campo. Henry Dunant rimase scioccato dal terribile scenario successivo alla battaglia, la sofferenza dei soldati feriti e la praticamente assenza di assistenza e cure di base. Abbandonò completamente il suo intento originale e si impegnò personalmente per diversi giorni ad aiutare i pochi che si prestavano ad occuparsi dei feriti. Riuscì ad avere successo, incitando la popolazione locale ad aiutare senza discriminazione.
Tornato a casa a Ginevra, decise di scrivere un libro intitolato Un ricordo di Solferino, che pubblicò di tasca propria nel 1862. Spedì copie del proprio libro ai leader politici e alle figure militari di tutta Europa. Oltre che a inserire una vivida descrizione delle sue esperienze a Solferino nel 1859, sostenne esplicitamente la creazione di organizzazioni di soccorso formate da volontari per aiutare nelle cure dei soldati feriti in caso di guerra. Inoltre, richiese lo sviluppo di trattati internazionali per garantire la neutralità e la protezione di questi feriti sul campo di battaglia, cosìccome medici e ospedali da campo.

Documento originale della prima Convenzione di Ginevra, del 1864

Il 9 febbraio del 1863, a Ginevra, Henry Dunant fondò il Comitato dei cinque (insieme con 4 rappresentanti delle famiglie ginevrine più conosciute), con il ruolo di commissione investigatoria della Società ginevrina per il benessere pubblico. Il loro scopo era quello di esaminare la fattibilità delle idee di Dunant e di organizzare una conferenza internazionale per una loro possibile implementazione. I membri di questo comitato, oltre allo stesso Dunant, erano Gustave Moynier, avvocato e presidente del comitato; il fisico Louis Appia, che accumulò una notevole esperienza lavorando come chirurgo da campo; l'amico e collega di Appia Théodore Maunoir, della Commissione ginevrina per l'igiene e la salute; e Guillaume Henri Dufour,

On February 9, 1863 in Geneva, Henry Dunant founded the "Committee of the Five" (together with four other leading figures from well-known Geneva families) as an investigatory commission of the Geneva Society for Public Welfare. Their aim was to examine the feasibility of Dunant's ideas and to organize an international conference about their possible implementation. The members of this committee, aside from Dunant himself, were Gustave Moynier, lawyer and chairman of the Geneva Society for Public Welfare; physician Louis Appia, who had significant experience working as a field surgeon; Appia's friend and colleague Théodore Maunoir, from the Geneva Hygiene and Health Commission; and Guillaume-Henri Dufour, a Swiss Army general of great renown. Eight days later, the five men decided to rename the committee to the "International Committee for Relief to the Wounded". In October (26-29) 1863, the international conference organized by the committee was held in Geneva to develop possible measures to improve medical services on the battle field. The conference was attended by 36 individuals: eighteen official delegates from national governments, six delegates from other non-governmental organizations, seven non-official foreign delegates, and the five members of the International Committee. The states and kingdoms represented by official delegates were Baden, Bavaria, France, Britain, Hanover, Hesse, Italy, the Netherlands, Austria, Prussia, Russia, Saxony, Sweden, and Spain. Among the proposals written in the final resolutions of the conference, adopted on October 29, 1863, were:

  • The foundation of national relief societies for wounded soldiers;
  • Neutrality and protection for wounded soldiers;
  • The utilization of volunteer forces for relief assistance on the battlefield;
  • The organization of additional conferences to enact these concepts in legally binding international treaties; and
  • The introduction of a common distinctive protection symbol for medical personnel in the field, namely a white armlet bearing a red cross.
Memorial commemorating the first use of the Red Cross symbol in an armed conflict during the Battle of Dybbøl (Denmark) in 1864; jointly erected in 1989 by the national Red Cross societies of Denmark and Germany.

Only one year later, the Swiss government invited the governments of all European countries, as well as the United States, Brazil, and Mexico, to attend an official diplomatic conference. 16 countries sent a total of 26 delegates to Geneva. On August 22, 1864, the conference adopted the first Geneva Convention "for the Amelioration of the Condition of the Wounded in Armies in the Field". Representatives of 12 states and kingdoms signed the convention: Baden, Belgium, Denmark, France, Hesse, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Prussia, Switzerland, Spain, and Württemberg. The convention contained ten articles, establishing for the first time legally binding rules guaranteeing neutrality and protection for wounded soldiers, field medical personnel, and specific humanitarian institutions in an armed conflict. Furthermore, the convention defined two specific requirements for recognition of a national relief society by the International Committee:

  • The national society must be recognized by its own national government as a relief society according to the convention, and
  • The national government of the respective country must be a state party to the Geneva Convention.

Directly following the establishment of the Geneva Convention, the first national societies were founded in Belgium, Denmark, France, Oldenburg, Prussia, Spain, and Württemberg. Also in 1864, Louis Appia and Charles van de Velde, a captain of the Dutch Army, became the first independent and neutral delegates to work under the symbol of the Red Cross in an armed conflict. Three years later in 1867, the first International Conference of National Aid Societies for the Nursing of the War Wounded was convened.

Also in 1867, Henry Dunant was forced to declare bankruptcy due to business failures in Algeria, partly because he had neglected his business interests during his tireless activities for the International Committee. Controversy surrounding Dunant's business dealings and the resulting negative public opinion combined with an ongoing conflict with Gustave Moynier led to Dunant's expulsion from his position as a member and secretary. He was forced to leave Geneva and never returned to his home city. In the following years, national societies were founded in nearly every country in Europe. In 1876, the committee adopted the name "International Committee of the Red Cross" (ICRC), which is still its official designation today. Five years later, the American Red Cross was founded through the efforts of Clara Barton. More and more countries signed the Geneva Convention and began to respect it in practice during armed conflicts. In a rather short period of time, the Red Cross gained huge momentum as an internationally respected movement, and the national societies became increasingly popular as a venue for volunteer work.

When the first Nobel Peace Prize was awarded in 1901, the Norwegian Nobel Committee opted to give it jointly to Henry Dunant and Frédéric Passy, a leading international pacifist. More significant than the honor of the prize itself, the official congratulation from the International Committee of the Red Cross marked the overdue rehabilitation of Henry Dunant and represented a tribute to his key role in the formation of the Red Cross. Dunant died nine years later in the small Swiss health resort of Heiden. Only two months earlier his long-standing adversary Gustave Moynier had also died, leaving a mark in the history of the Committee as its longest-running president ever.

In 1906, the 1864 Geneva Convention was revised for the first time. One year later, the Hague Convention X, adopted at the Second International Peace Conference in l'Aia, extended the scope of the Geneva Convention to naval warfare. Shortly before the beginning of the First World War in 1914, 50 years after the foundation of the ICRC and the adoption of the first Geneva Convention, there were already 45 national relief societies throughout the world. The movement had extended itself beyond Europe and North America to Central and South America (Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Cuba, Mexico, Perù, El Salvador, Uruguay, Venezuela), Asia (China, Japan, Korea, Siam), and Africa (Republic of South Africa). -->