Throughout much of human history, war and conflict were not subject to the law, with the notion of ‘all is fair in war’ taking precedence. During this period, prohibited acts or protected parties did not exist. Since its declaration, International Humanitarian Law's (IHL) principle and aim is to retain a measure of humanity in the midst of conflict, emphasizing and establishing limits.
Humanitarian Principles have a basis in IHL as the law not only outlines how parties to an armed conflict should conduct themselves but also highlights the role of humanitarian agencies regarding assistance. Humanity, neutrality, impartiality, and independence act as a compass to guide any action that attempts to provide relief to millions of people affected by conflict. These principles, and the values that they entail, are the foundations and objectives of humanitarian action and undergird its universality.
As a result of the importance humanitarian principles hold in society, the Center for Conflict and Humanitarian Studies in collaboration with the International Committee of the Red Cross and the Embassy of Switzerland in Qatar organised an exhibition at the Fire Station Artist in Residence in Doha, Qatar on Humanitarian Principles Here and Now using artwork curated by the Musée de l’Elysée in Lausanne, Switzerland. The inauguration of the art installation took place last evening, Monday 20 September, for a private audience comprised of the diplomatic community in Qatar. It is opening to the public tomorrow for a month, until 19 October.
The artwork used is a reaction through photography and film to the feelings elicited and associated with the tragedies we see on tv and in photos. Through this exhibition, we aim to generate dialogue where it might not otherwise have been generated. The exhibition aims to give visitors a better understanding and insight into Humanitarian Principles and their importance and to provide them with the opportunity to mindfully engage with art.
For many people across the world, living safely and in a dignified manner, daily life is far removed from thinking of and applying humanitarian principles. Through the universal language of photography and film in this exhibition, CHS, the ICRC and the Swiss Embassy are using this powerful medium to raise awareness and empathy and imbed humanitarian principles into the psyche of a society. These photographs do not only remind us of human experiences but also the power and impact that photographs have in conveying messages.
As we welcome you to this important and distinctive exhibition, we urge you to take a step back, to pause, to think and to feel. We hope that the art in this exhibition can raise dialogue on humanity and the humanitarian sphere.