IRRC No. 271

The Geneva Conference of August 1864 as seen by the Geneva press

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The Geneva Conference of August 1864 was held behind closed doors. A drawing published in the satirical paper the Carillon de Saint-Gervais is indicative of the reaction of journalists to this decision. It depicts three characters, symbolizing three Geneva newspapers, the Journal de Genève, La Démocratic suisse and the Carillon de Saint-Gervais, locked out of the International Congress whose door bears a sign saying “no entry”. The caption translates as follows: Tribune open to the press, courtesy of the International Congress”. This was probably the first manifestation of a certain reserve which has been apparent on occasion in relations between the humanitarian agencies and the media. Happily, times have changed. Nowadays, information and dissemination have become essential components of the policy of the International Committee of the Red Cross, and it may safely be assumed that a cartoonist illustrating an International Conference would now show the doors wide open.

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