Defining the Civilian: The International Committee of the Red Cross’ Response to Crisis in Bosnia, 1992–1995
This article explores how the International Committee of the Red Cross defined non-combatants during the Bosnian War (1992–1995) and how those definitions contributed to a counter-narrative that disrupts familiar conceptualizations of the war as exclusively ethnic. Through an examination of Red Cross press releases, I argue that the Red Cross defined identity primarily based on individual experiences with violence and/or transnational constructions of vulnerability in war based on age and gender. This is largely in contrast to Western politicians and journalists who repeated the language of ultranationalist leaders and relied on ethno-nationalist categories to describe non-combatants. By examining the discursive practices of the Red Cross, historians have an opportunity to further understand why some communities and individuals experienced violence, and participated in the war, in ways counter-intuitive to the nationalist discourse.
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