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    HomeNews[Cornelio Sommaruga, President of the ICRC 1987–1999

    [Cornelio Sommaruga, President of the ICRC 1987–1999

    At the end of the Cold War, some questioned the need to maintain neutral, impartial and independent humanitarian action. Cornelio Sommaruga defended respect for these fundamental principles of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and their application. Today, more than ever, these principles remain essential if we are to take action at the heart of conflict and serve as a neutral intermediary.

    Profoundly convinced of the relevance of the ICRC’s role within the Movement, he anchored it in the field, in the midst of conflict, and in dialogue with belligerents.

    In 1992, Cornelio Sommaruga was one of the first leaders to alert the world to the internment camps in Bosnia-Herzegovina and in 1994 he was one of the first to sound the alarm regarding the targeted, systematic attacks on sections of the population in Rwanda.

    He invested much effort in supporting the humanitarian community and the international position of Geneva. Internally, he devoted particular attention to the transformation of the ICRC and the careers of its staff. Their number swelled from 3,500 at the start of his presidency to 10,000 by the end. Where previously all delegates had been Swiss, they now came from increasingly diverse nations and backgrounds.

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