Old and new challenges to humanitarian action in armed conflicts

A lecture by Martin Dahinden, Director General of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation and designated Swiss Ambassador to the USA. Join us on September 25th!

Event Details


The Fletcher School / Tufts University
Cabot Intercultural Center, 160 Packard Avenue, Medford, Massachusetts 02155 United States


September 25, 2014 from 4:00 pm to 7:00 pm Pacific/Easter (UTC-05:00)


Free Admission

Foto_Jean_Mohr3On September 25th we invite you to join us for a lecture by Martin Dahinden, Director General of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, and designated Swiss Ambassador to the U.S., on Old and new challenges to humanitarian action in armed conflicts.

This event will take place during the course of the exhibition War from the Victims Perspective composed by the work of acclaimed Swiss photographer Jean Mohr, commemorating the 150th anniversary of the ICRC and thus Swiss human aid.  The traveling exhibition will be on display at Tufts University Fletcher School from September 14th trough October 5th, free and open to the public.

Visit the exhibition’s website




5 PM


Doors open, time to visit the exhibition


6 PM


Words of Welcome by Dean James Stavridis, The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy and by Andreas Rufer, Deputy Consul, swissnex Boston


followed by    


Lecture by Martin Dahinden, Director-General at the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation

Location: ASEAN Auditorium


7 PM




8 PM


Doors close


Practical Information


Parking: Dowling Hall Garage, 419 Boston Ave., Medford, MA 02155

Martin Dahinden

Ambassador Martin Dahinden (*1955) took over the position of Director-General at the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation in 2008.

Prior to this, Martin Dahinden headed the FDFA’s Directorate of Corporate Management (from 2004), after having worked as Director of the Geneva International Centre for Humanitarian Demining (from 2000 to 2004).

Martin Dahinden entered the diplomatic service in 1987. During his career, he held assignments in Geneva as member of the Swiss Delegation to GATT, at the Swiss Embassy in Paris, as Deputy to the Swiss ambassador in Nigeria, and was temporarily posted at the Swiss Mission to the UN in New York. At the Head Office in Bern, he worked at the FDFA’s Service for Disarmament Policy and Nuclear Issues, as Head of the OSCE Service of Political Affairs Division I, and held the post of Deputy Head of the OSCE Coordination Unit during the Swiss Chairmanship of the OSCE in 1996. The following year, he was sent abroad as Deputy Head of the Swiss Mission to NATO in Brussels.

Before entering the diplomatic service, Dr. Martin Dahinden studied Economics (Business Administration) at the University of Zurich. He worked as a post-graduate assistant at the University, and subsequently was employed with a bank and later with a publishing house.



War from the Victims’ Perspective

Photographs by Jean Mohr


Jean_MohrEarly on, Jean Mohr sought to understand and explain the drama of civilians trapped in belligerent situations. His reportages are the result of decades of experience, which saw a ICRC and UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East) delegate transform himself into a full-time photographer, after a spell at an academy of painting.

More than 80 exhibitions worldwide have been dedicated to his work, including two at the Musée de l’Elysée in Lausanne that holds his collection. In 1978, at Photokina (Frankfurt’s major Photography Fair), Jean Mohr was awarded the prize for the photographer who had most consistently served the cause of human rights. He is one of the best representatives of humanist photography, masterfully balancing sensitivity and rigor, emotion and reflection, art and documentary evidence.
Foto_Jean_Mohr2The exhibition addresses the issues of victims of conflicts, refugees and communities suffering from war and still under potential threat. It focuses on the emblematic cases of Palestine, Cyprus, and Africa. Other examples illustrate the universal problems of populations directly or indirectly enduring repercussions of war (in Iran, Pakistan, Nicaragua…).

Palestine, its refugee camps, precarious sanitary conditions, and the Gaza stalemate, whilst being the subject of major media attention, is a case worthy of reconsideration. It needs to be regularly re-explained and repositioned in the context of the Israeli-Arab conflict. The case of Cyprus serves as a reminder that the refugee problem still remains an issue for certain members of the European Union. Several hundreds of thousands of people were forced into exile. Africa too needed to be addressed, as the post-colonial conflicts forced millions into displacement. The fragility of these States, outlined as they are by inherited colonial borders, regularly fuels turmoil which leads to humanitarian crises. The refugee problem is present throughout the continent.

Focussing upon these three geographical regions presents the problem of war victims in an historical setting classified by theme: “Portraits of Exile”, “The Children’s Diaspora”, “Temporary Landscapes”, and “Life Goes On”. These photographs render a face to the casualties and retrace the steps of their displacement, from their settlement in the precariousness of the camps and reception centres to their attempts to adapt to an enduring situation. After Geneva, the exhibition War from the Victims’ Perspective, Photographs by Jean Mohr will travel around the world until 2016.


150 years of Swiss Humanitarian Aid


Switzerland’s position is established at the forefront of the international stage – more prominently than its geographical size implies. In the humanitarian field in particular, it played a decisive role in the founding of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the most important beneficiary of the Confederation’s humanitarian aid today. Depositary of the Geneva Conventions, it is actively committed to the respect of international humanitarian law.

Its active stand in the protection of victims of armed conflicts and in the aid to those of forgotten conflicts is internationally recognised. Switzerland’s place and role can today be further highlighted through photography. This medium contributes to this promotional task as it occupies a prominent position at the crossroad of mass media and artistic creativity. Furthermore, photography is a universal language. It represents a very rich heritage that is today the focus of major efforts by public authorities eager to promote it and make it accessible.
Particularly timely on this, the 150th anniversary of the ICRC and of the First Geneva Convention, the issue of victims of armed conflicts is crucial in the international debate. Swiss photographer Jean Mohr (1925) appears today to be one of those best placed to address this subject. His images are known not only for their graphic qualities but also for their great sensitivity, respecting the victims’ dignity.