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In 2009, we will be marking the 150th anniversary of the battle of Solferino, the moment when the world’s largest humanitarian movement, the Red Cross and Red Crescent, was born. Founded originally to alleviate the suffering of soldiers wounded on the battlefield, the Red Cross Red Crescent has worked tirelessly ever since to extend its humanitarian work to other categories of victims, in particular civilians.

In parallel, as international humanitarian law, which aims at mitigating the effects of armed conflicts, has developed over time, so has the relationship between the Movement and the armed forces. The more recent involvement of the military in the management of crises — in war zones and after natural disasters — has added a new, sometimes problematic, dimension to this relationship.

With the benefit of hindsight, we thought it useful to take a look at how this relationship has evolved and to examine more closely some of the current challenges, notably through the lens of the conflict in Afghanistan, where the stakes are perhaps the highest of all.

It is 20 years since the first issue of Red Cross Red Crescent magazine appeared, as the back cover of this issue attests. What better moment to thank all our readers across the globe for their loyalty and interest over the years? It is also time for Jean-François Berger, ICRC editor, to move on after ten years at the helm.

Jean-François Berger
ICRC editor

Rosemarie North
International Federation editor

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