Responsible Politics of the Neutral: Rethinking International Humanitarianism in the Red Cross Movement via the Philosophy of Roland Barthes


Abstract
The International Committee of the Red Cross offers a dilemma for international political theory. ICRC's success as a humanitarian actor in international conflict is credited to its neutral stance. However, ICRC neutrality is vulnerable to serious challenges regarding its supposed avoidance of the political. ICRC neutrality is commonly dismissed as either illusory or impossible. The problem is not grounded in the principle of neutrality itself, though, but rather in the lack of critical engagement with what it means to be neutral on a humanitarian register. ICRC misreads the demands of neutrality in such ways as to permit both partiality and irresponsibility to its mission. Drawing from Roland Barthes’ address of the neutral, I argue that international humanitarianism is possible as a neutral movement but that this neutrality can only be such through vigorous and fundamentally political movement responsible to the goals of human well-being and dignity as questions
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DOI 10.3366/jipt.2010.0003
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Leviathan.Thomas Hobbes - 1651 - Harmondsworth, Penguin.
Kant: Political Writings.Immanuel Kant - 1991 - Cambridge University Press.
What is a Paradigm?Giorgio Agamben - 2009 - Filozofski Vestnik 30 (1):107-125.
Principles, Politics, and Humanitarian Action.Thomas G. Weiss - 1999 - Ethics and International Affairs 13:1–22.

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U9 Roland Barthes.Roland Barthes - 2007 - In Diarmuid Costello & Jonathan Vickery (eds.), Art: Key Contemporary Thinkers. Berg. pp. 149.

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