8 May 1828
|Died||30 October 1910 82) (aged|
|Resting place||Friedhof Sihlfeld, Zürich-Wiedikon, Switzerland|
French (from 1859)
|Occupation||Social businessman, writer|
|Known for||Founder of the Red Cross|
|Awards||Nobel Peace Prize (1901)|
Henry Dunant (born Jean-Henri Dunant; 8 May 1828 –30 October 1910), also known as Henri Dunant, was a Swiss Christian, humanitarian, businessman and social activist. He was the visionary, promoter and co-founder and father of the Red Cross. In 1901, he received the first Nobel Peace Prize together with Frédéric Passy, making Dunant the first Swiss Nobel laureate.
During a business trip in 1859, Dunant was witness to the aftermath of the Battle of Solferino in modern-day Italy. He recorded his memories and experiences in the book A Memory of Solferino which inspired the creation of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in 1863. The 1864 Geneva Convention was based on Dunant's idea for an independent organisation to care for wounded soldiers.
Dunant was the founder of the Swiss branch of the Young Men's Christian Association YMCA.
Dunant was born in Geneva, Switzerland, in 1828 as the first son of businessman Jean-Jacques Dunant and Antoinette Dunant-Colladon. His family was devoutly Calvinist and had significant influence in Geneva society. His parents stressed the value of social work, and his father was active helping orphans and parolees, while his mother worked with the sick and the poor.
Dunant grew up during the period of religious awakening known as the Réveil , and at age 18 he joined the Geneva Society for Alms giving. In the following year, together with friends, he founded the so-called "Thursday Association", a loose band of young men that met to study the Bible and help the poor, and he spent much of his free time engaged in prison visits and social work. On 30 November 1852, he founded the Geneva chapter of the YMCA and three years later he took part in the Paris meeting devoted to the founding of its international organization.
In 1849, at age 21, Dunant left the Collège de Genève due to poor grades, and he began an apprenticeship with the money-changing firm Lullin et Sautter. After its successful conclusion, he remained as an employee of the bank.
In 1853, Dunant visited Algeria, Tunisia, and Sicily, on assignment with a company devoted to the "colonies of Setif" (Compagnie genevoise des Colonies de Sétif). Despite little experience, he successfully fulfilled the assignment. Inspired by the trip, he wrote his first book with the title An Account of the Regency in Tunis (Notice sur la Régence de Tunis), published in 1858.
In 1856, he created a business to operate in foreign colonies, and, after being granted a land concession by French-occupied Algeria, a corn-growing and trading company called the Financial and Industrial Company of Mons-Djémila Mills (Société financière et industrielle des Moulins des Mons-Djémila). However, the land and water rights were not clearly assigned, and the colonial authorities were not especially cooperative. As a result, Dunant decided to appeal directly to French emperor Napoléon III, who was with his army in Lombardy at the time. France was fighting on the side of Piedmont-Sardinia against Austria, who had occupied much of today's Italy. Napoleon's headquarters were located in the small city of Solferino. Dunant wrote a flattering book full of praise for Napoleon III with the intention to present it to the emperor, and then traveled to Solferino to meet with him personally.
Dunant arrived in Solferino on the evening of 24 June 1859, on the same day a battle between the two sides had occurred nearby. Twenty-three thousand wounded, dying and dead remained on the battlefield, and there appeared to be little attempt to provide care. Shocked, Dunant himself took the initiative to organize the civilian population, especially the women and girls, to provide assistance to the injured and sick soldiers. They lacked sufficient materials and supplies, and Dunant himself organized the purchase of needed materials and helped erect makeshift hospitals. He convinced the population to service the wounded without regard to their side in the conflict as per the slogan "Tutti fratelli" (All are brothers) coined by the women of nearby city Castiglione delle Stiviere. He also succeeded in gaining the release of Austrian doctors captured by the French.
After returning to Geneva early in July, Dunant decided to write a book about his experiences, which he titled Un Souvenir de Solferino ( A Memory of Solferino ). It was published in 1862 in an edition of 1,600 copies and was printed at Dunant's own expense. In the book, he described the battle, its costs, and the chaotic circumstances afterwards. He also developed the idea that in the future a neutral organization should exist to provide care to wounded soldiers. He distributed the book to many leading political and military figures in Europe.
Dunant also began to travel through Europe to promote his ideas. His book was largely positively received, and the President of the Geneva Society for Public Welfare, jurist Gustave Moynier, made the book and its suggestions the topic of the 9 February 1863 meeting of the organization. Dunant's recommendations were examined and positively assessed by the members. They created a five-person Committee to further pursue the possibility of their implementation and made Dunant one of the members. The others were Moynier, the Swiss army general Henri Dufour, and doctors Louis Appia and Théodore Maunoir. Their first meeting on 17 February 1863 is now considered the founding date of the International Committee of the Red Cross.
From early on, Moynier and Dunant had increasing disagreements and conflicts regarding their respective visions and plans. Moynier considered Dunant's idea to establish neutrality protections for care providers unfeasible and advised Dunant not to insist upon this concept. However, Dunant continued to advocate this position in his travels and conversations with high-ranking political and military figures. This intensified the personal conflict between Moynier, who took a rather pragmatic approach to the project, and Dunant, who was the idealist among the five.
In October 1863, 14 states took part in a meeting in Geneva organized by the committee to discuss the improvement of care for wounded soldiers. Dunant was a protocol leader during the meeting. A year later on 22 August 1864, a diplomatic conference organized by the Swiss government led to the signing of the First Geneva Convention by 12 states. Dunant was in charge of organizing accommodation for the attendees.
Dunant's businesses in Algeria had suffered. In April 1867, the bankruptcy of the financial firm Crédit Genevois led to a scandal involving Dunant. He declared bankruptcy. The social outcry in Geneva, a city deeply rooted in Calvinist traditions, also led to calls for him to separate himself from the International Committee. Already on 25 August 1867, he resigned as Secretary and, on 8 September 1867, he was fully removed from the committee. Dunant was condemned by the Geneva Trade Court on 17 August 1868 for deceptive practices in the bankruptcies. Due to their investments in the firm, his family and many of his friends were also heavily affected by the downfall of the company.
In February 1868, Dunant's mother died. Later that year he was expelled from the YMCA.[ why? ] In March 1867, he left his home city Geneva and would not return for the rest of his life. In the following years, Moynier likely used his influence to attempt to ensure that Dunant would not receive assistance and support from his friends. For example, the gold medal prize of Sciences Morales at the Paris World's Fair did not go to Dunant as originally planned but to Moynier, Dufour, and Dunant together so that the prize money would only go to the committee as a whole. Napoléon III's offer to take over half of Dunant's debts if Dunant's friends would secure the other half was also thwarted by Moynier's efforts.
Dunant moved to Paris, where he lived in meagre conditions. However, he continued to pursue his humanitarian ideas and plans. During the Franco-Prussian War (1870–1871), he founded the Common Relief Society (Allgemeine Fürsorgegesellschaft) and soon after the Common Alliance for Order and Civilisation ( Allgemeine Allianz für Ordnung und Zivilisation ). He argued for disarmament negotiations and for the erection of an international court to mediate international conflicts. Later he worked for the creation of a world library, an idea which had echoes in future projects such as UNESCO.
In his continued pursuit and advocacy of his ideas, he further neglected his personal situation and income, falling further in debt and being shunned by his acquaintances. Despite being appointed an honorary member of the national Red Cross societies of Austria, the Netherlands, Sweden, Prussia and Spain, he was nearly forgotten in the official discourse of the Red Cross Movement, even as it was rapidly expanding to new countries. He lived in poverty, moving to various places between 1874 and 1886, including Stuttgart, Rome, Corfu, Basel, and Karlsruhe. In Stuttgart he met the Tübingen University student Rudolf Müller with whom he would have a close friendship. In 1881, together with friends from Stuttgart, he went to the small Swiss resort village Heiden for the first time. In 1887 while living in London, he began to receive some monthly financial support from some distant family members. This enabled him to live a somewhat more secure existence, and he moved to Heiden in July. He spent the rest of his life there, and after 30 April 1892 he lived in a hospital and nursing home led by Dr. Hermann Altherr.
In Heiden, he met the young teacher Wilhelm Sonderegger and his wife Susanna; they encouraged him to record his life experiences. Sonderegger's wife founded a branch of the Red Cross in Heiden and in 1890 Dunant became its honorary president. With Sonderegger, Dunant hoped to further promote his ideas, including publishing a new edition of his book. However, their friendship later was strained by Dunant's unjustified accusations that Sonderegger, with Moynier in Geneva, was somehow conspiring against Dunant. Sonderegger died in 1904 at age 42. Despite their strained relationship, Dunant was deeply moved by the unexpected death. Wilhelm and Susanna Sonderegger's admiration for Dunant, felt by both even after Dunant's allegations, was passed on to their children. In 1935, their son René published a compilation of letters from Dunant to his father.
In September 1895, Georg Baumberger, the chief editor of the St. Gall newspaper Die Ostschweiz , wrote an article about the Red Cross founder, whom he had met and conversed with during a walk in Heiden a month earlier. The article entitled "Henri Dunant, the founder of the Red Cross", appeared in the German Illustrated Magazine Über Land und Meer, and the article was soon reprinted in other publications throughout Europe. The article struck a chord, and he received renewed attention and support. He received the Swiss Binet-Fendt Prize and a note from Pope Leo XIII. Because of support from Russian tsarist widow Maria Feodorovna and other donations, his financial situation improved remarkably.
In 1897, Rudolf Müller, who was now working as a teacher in Stuttgart, wrote a book about the origins of the Red Cross, altering the official history to stress Dunant's role. The book also contained the text of A Memory of Solferino . Dunant began an exchange of correspondence with Bertha von Suttner and wrote numerous articles and writings. He was especially active in writing about women's rights, and in 1897 facilitated the founding of a "Green Cross" women's organization whose only section was briefly active in Brussels.
In 1901, Dunant was awarded the first-ever Nobel Peace Prize for his role in founding the International Red Cross Movement and initiating the Geneva Convention. By public and private means, Müller, and later Norwegian military physician Hans Daae (who had received a copy of Müller's book), advocated Dunant's case to the Nobel committee over the course of 4 years.The award was jointly given to French pacifist Frédéric Passy, founder of the Peace League and active with Dunant in the Alliance for Order and Civilization. The official congratulations which he received from the International Committee finally represented the rehabilitation of Dunant's reputation:
"There is no man who more deserves this honour, for it was you, forty years ago, who set on foot the international organization for the relief of the wounded on the battlefield. Without you, the Red Cross, the supreme humanitarian achievement of the nineteenth century would probably have never been undertaken."
Moynier and the International Committee as a whole had also been nominated for the prize. Although Dunant was supported by a broad spectrum in the selection process, he was still a controversial candidate. Some argued that the Red Cross and the Geneva Convention had made war more attractive and imaginable by eliminating some of its suffering. Therefore, Müller, in a letter to the committee, argued that the prize should be divided between Dunant and Passy, who for some time in the debate had been the leading candidate to be the sole recipient of the prize. Müller also suggested that if a prize were to be warranted for Dunant, it should be given immediately because of his advanced age and ill health.
By dividing the prize between Passy, a pacifist, and Dunant, a humanitarian, the Nobel Committee set a precedent for the conditions of the Nobel Peace Prize selection which would have significant consequences in later years. A section of Nobel's will had indicated that the prize should go to an individual who had worked to reduce or eliminate standing armies, or directly to promote peace conferences, which made Passy a natural choice for his peace work. On the other hand, the arguably distinct bestowal for humanitarian effort alone was seen by some as a wide interpretation of Nobel's will. However, another part of Nobel's testament marked the prize for the individual who had best enhanced the "brotherhood of people," which could be interpreted more generally as seeing humanitarian work like Dunant's as connected to peacemaking as well. Many recipients of the Nobel Peace Prize in later years can be assigned to either of these two categories first roughly established by the Nobel committee's decision in 1901.
Hans Daae succeeded in placing Dunant's part of the prize money, 104,000 Swiss Francs, in a Norwegian Bank and preventing access by his creditors. Dunant himself never spent any of the money during his lifetime, continuing to live simply and reserving it for bequests in his will to those who cared for him and charitable causes.
Among several other awards in the following years, in 1903 Dunant was given an honorary doctorate by the medical faculty of the University of Heidelberg. He lived in the nursing home in Heiden until his death. In the final years of his life, he suffered from depression and paranoia about pursuit by his creditors and Moynier. There were even days when Dunant insisted that the cook of the nursing home first taste his food before his eyes to protect him against possible poisoning. In his final years, he spurned and attacked Calvinism and organized religion generally. He was said to be agnostic.
According to his nurses, the final act of his life was to send a copy of Müller's book to the Italian queen with a personal dedication. He died on 30 October 1910, and his final words were "Where has humanity gone?"
According to his wishes, he was buried without ceremony in the Sihlfeld Cemetery in Zurich. In his will, he donated funds to secure a "free bed" in the Heiden nursing home always to be available for a poor citizen of the region and deeded some money to friends and charitable organizations in Norway and Switzerland. The remaining funds went to his creditors partially relieving his debt; his inability to fully erase his debts was a major burden to him until his death.
His birthday, 8 May, is celebrated as the World Red Cross and Red Crescent Day. The former nursing home in Heiden now houses the Henry Dunant Museum. In Geneva and other places there are numerous streets, squares, and schools named after him. The Henry Dunant Medal, awarded every two years by the standing commission of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement is its highest decoration.
His life is represented, with some fictional elements, in the film D'homme à hommes (1948), starring Jean-Louis Barrault, and the period of his life when the Red Cross was founded in the international film coproduction Henry Dunant: Red on the Cross (2006). In 2010 the Takarazuka Revue staged a musical based on his time in Solferino and the founding of the Red Cross entitled Dawn at Solferino, or Where has Humanity Gone?.
The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement is an international humanitarian movement with approximately 97 million volunteers, members and staff worldwide, which was founded to protect human life and health, to ensure respect for all human beings, and to prevent and alleviate human suffering. Within it there are three distinct organizations that are legally independent from each other, but are united within the movement through common basic principles, objectives, symbols, statutes and governing organisations.
The Battle of Solferino on 24 June 1859 resulted in the victory of the allied French Army under Napoleon III and Piedmont-Sardinian Army under Victor Emmanuel II against the Austrian Army under Emperor Franz Joseph I. It was the last major battle in world history where all the armies were under the personal command of their monarchs. Perhaps 300,000 soldiers fought in the important battle, the largest since the Battle of Leipzig in 1813. There were about 130,000 Austrian troops and a combined total of 140,000 French and allied Piedmontese troops. After the battle, the Austrian Emperor refrained from further direct command of the army.
The First Geneva Convention for the Amelioration of the Condition of the Wounded in Armies in the Field, held on 22 August 1864, is the first of four treaties of the Geneva Conventions. It defines "the basis on which rest the rules of international law for the protection of the victims of armed conflicts." After the first treaty was adopted in 1864, it was significantly revised and replaced in 1906, 1929, and finally 1949. It is inextricably linked to the International Committee of the Red Cross, which is both the instigator for the inception and enforcer of the articles in these conventions.
Solferino is a small town and municipality in the province of Mantua, Lombardy, northern Italy, approximately 10 kilometres (6.2 mi) south of Lake Garda.
Marcel Junod was a Swiss doctor and one of the most accomplished field delegates in the history of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). After medical school and a short position as a surgeon in Mulhouse, France, he became an ICRC delegate and was deployed in Ethiopia during the Second Italo-Abyssinian War, in Spain during the Spanish Civil War, and in Europe as well as in Japan during World War II. In 1947, he wrote a book with the title Warrior without Weapons about his experiences. After the war, he worked for the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) as chief representative in China, and settled back in Europe in 1950. He founded the anaesthesiology department of the Cantonal Hospital in Geneva and became the first professor in this discipline at the University of Geneva. In 1952, he was appointed a member of the ICRC and, after many more missions for this institution, was Vice-President from 1959 until his death in 1961.
Gustave Moynier was a Swiss Jurist who was active in many charitable organizations in Geneva.
The emblems of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, under the Geneva Conventions, are to be placed on humanitarian and medical vehicles and buildings, and to be worn by medical personnel and others carrying out humanitarian work, to protect them from military attack on the battlefield. There are four such emblems, three of which are in use: the Red Cross, the Red Crescent, and the Red Crystal. The Red Lion and Sun is also a recognized emblem, but is no longer in use.
Louis Paul Amédée Appia was a Swiss surgeon with special merit in the area of military medicine. In 1863 he became a member of the Geneva "Committee of Five", which was the precursor to the International Committee of the Red Cross. Six years later he met Clara Barton, an encounter which had significant influence on Clara Barton's subsequent endeavours to found a Red Cross society in the United States and her campaign for an accession of the US to the Geneva Convention of 1864.
Dr. Théodore Maunoir was a Swiss surgeon and co-founder of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).
Culoz is a commune in the Ain department in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region of France.
The International Committee of the Red Cross is a humanitarian organization based in Geneva, Switzerland. State parties (signatories) to the Geneva Convention of 1949 and its Additional Protocols of 1977 and 2005 have given the ICRC a mandate to protect victims of international and internal armed conflicts. Such victims include war wounded persons, prisoners, refugees, civilians, and other non-combatants.
The Geneva Conventions are four treaties, and three additional protocols, that establish international legal standards for humanitarian treatment in war. The singular term Geneva Convention usually denotes the agreements of 1949, negotiated in the aftermath of the Second World War (1939–1945), which updated the terms of the two 1929 treaties and added two new conventions. The Geneva Conventions extensively define the basic rights of wartime prisoners, established protections for the wounded and sick, and provided protections for the civilians in and around a war-zone; moreover, the Geneva Convention also defines the rights and protections afforded to non-combatants. The treaties of 1949 were ratified, in their entirety or with reservations, by 196 countries. The Geneva Conventions concern only combatants in war; they do not address the use of weapons of war, which are instead addressed by the Hague Conventions of 1899 and 1907, which concern conventional weapons, and the Geneva Protocol, which concerns biological and chemical warfare.
The Standing Commission of the Red Cross and Red Crescent is the permanent statutory body of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and the highest deliberative body of the Movement between the meetings of the Council of Delegates and the International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent. It was originally set up to coordinate cooperation between the International Committee of the Red Cross and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.
A Memory of Solferino is a book of the Swiss humanitarian Henry Dunant published in 1862. It proved decisive in the founding of the International Committee of the Red Cross.
Marguerite "Meggy"Frick-Cramer, born Renée-Marguerite Cramer, was a Swiss legal scholar, historian, and humanitarian activist. She was the first woman to sit on the governing body of an international organization, when she was made a member of the board of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in 1918.
Johan Hendrik Christiaan Basting was a Dutch army surgeon and friend of Red Cross founder Henri Dunant. He played an important role during the establishment in 1863 of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), and from that year on he was an advocate for the establishment of a national voluntary aid organization in the Netherlands, the Netherlands Red Cross established in 1867.
The archives of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) are based in Geneva and were founded in 1863 at the time of the ICRC's inception. It has the dual function to manage both current records and historical archives. The general historical archives are openly accessible to the general public up to 1975.
The library of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) – in French: la bibliothèque du Comité international de la Croix-Rouge (CICR) – is a public library based at the headquarter of the international organization in Geneva, Switzerland. It was apparently founded around the time of the ICRC's inception in 1863.
Jacques-Louis-Edmond Chenevière, commonly known as Jacques Chenevière, was a Swiss poet, librettist and novelist from a Patrician family in Geneva. For more than sixty years, he also served as a humanitarian official in top-positions of management and organisation at the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).
The first Nobel Peace Prize went, in 1901, to Henri Dunant. Dunant was the founder of the Red Cross, but he could not become its first elective head–so it is widely believed–because of his agnostic views.
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