Double-Red-CrossedIssue: Spring 2005
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is an impressive edifice--both physically and morally. Its Swiss headquarters, once a Belle Epoch luxury hotel, is perched on a commanding height overlooking Lake Geneva. Just below is the Palais des Nations, formerly home to President Woodrow Wilson's ill-fated League, and now occupied by the United Nations. The whole area exudes a comfortable, faded-paint kind of civility--complete with peacocks roaming free on the UN lawns below. It is, of course, home to the world's oldest non-religious organization dedicated to humanitarian relief--an organization with a unique place in international law, identified by the four 1949 Geneva Conventions as an "impartial humanitarian body."