150 years of humanitarian reflection

The International Review of the Red Cross will observe its 150th anniversary in 2019, and the ICRC has decided to commemorate the occasion by making more than 30,000 archives from 1869 to the present day freely accessible to the public on a newly updated website.


“The International Review of the Red Cross is considered a real reflector of change in humanitarian communication.”

The International Review of the Red Cross, which was founded in 1869, is an academic journal published three times a year by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). Government officials, international organizations, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), humanitarian workers, academics, and others interested in humanitarian concerns read the journal. 

"The publisher we work with gave us the entire archive. 3 years ago, we wondered how we could make best use of this content. And particularly because it was clear that expectations were high among researchers and historians, among others, who wanted to be able to access this information", explains Nicole Martins-Maag, Acting Head of Unit, ICRC. 

Originally intended to give operational information, the journal has evolved into a forum for scholarly debate. The Red Cross International Review is regarded as a true reflection of change in humanitarian communication. 

Nicole Martins-idea Maag's for revamping the site began to grow in 2017. 

The goal was to fully redesign the site, giving it a new and more modern interface, making it easier to navigate, and adding multi-language and right-to-left functionality. 

“SQLI's proposal ticked all the boxes. The suggested design was just what we wanted and the teams understood our business needs and requirements perfectly. What was particularly pleasing was that SQLI got straight down to business: the experts carried out a data import simulation to demonstrate the feasibility of the project. They really got stuck in, although we were still only at the tender response stage. And that was very reassuring”, stresses Alexis de Roquemaurel, ICT Project Manager, ICRC. 

Hundred-year-old archives on a modern web platform

The project began in January of this year. The new platform is being developed by SQLI's expertise using Drupal 8, a content management system that considerably simplifies content production and maintenance. 

"We had scheduled the launch for summer 2019, but the website was actually delivered in October. With the benefit of hindsight, I think we perhaps focused too much on navigation, the search tool and the design. Information in XML and PDF format was imported in June. I think we would've preferred it earlier”, recalls Nicole Martins-Maag. 

"In any project, you can have mishaps or incidents that you hadn't anticipated. But that doesn't have to affect your relationship with partners. 

When we too, at the ICRC, had problems in setting up the infrastructure, SQLI's teams offered to lend us a hand to speed up the process”, adds Alexis de Roquemaurel. 

"We had an extraordinary relationship with our partners, particularly the SQLI Project Manager. They were all tremendously committed and sincere. It was a pleasure to work together”, adds Nicole Martins-Maag.

In October 2019, the site went live and was completely functional, in time for the "Pages" exhibition, which depicts the Review's objective of reporting on advances in the field of international law as it applies to armed conflicts and innovations in humanitarian action over the last 150 years. 

"Our first impressions of the site are very positive. It is very easy to search and navigate. It's interesting to observe traffic peaks. Recently, for example, we've observed that the Spanish version of the site is working very well. But it's too early to comment on figures. Let's leave the site be for a few more months so we can get proper feedback”, explains Nicole Martins-Maag.  

As for the future, the ICRC wants it to be a dynamic site. 
“We're going to continue to add to it, put new issues of the Review online and publicise related events, and also keep improving the new platform!” she concludes.