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Prisoners of war, diplomacy and international humanitarian law in the Second World War

Thursday 30 January 2020, 5.30PM

Speaker(s): Professor Neville Wylie, University of Stirling

This paper is drawn from a wider study on the role of protecting powers in international politics, and builds on my work on neutrals and prisoners of war. It will discuss how thinking evolved over the possibility of establishing a framework to promote ‘humanity in war’ in the modern era. At a fundamental level, this entailed moving away from reliance on traditional chivalric or warriors’ codes, or the power of reciprocity to hold belligerents to their ‘responsibilities’ towards enemy prisoners, and establishing a supervisory regime capable of overseeing practices based on internationally agreed legal codes. The paper charts how these ideas gained traction in the international community, but how the challenge of modern warfare constantly undercut the procedural and normative developments, and ultimately led to a decline in the involvement of protecting powers in supervising the conditions of captivity of prisoners of war. 

About the speaker

Professor Wylie is currently Deputy Principal for Internationalisation at Stirling University. He has studied or taught at King's College London, Cambridge, Glasgow, University College Dublin and Nottingham, where he established and led the School of Politics, History and International Relations. He was the founding Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at Nottingham’s campus in Malaysia. In 2014 Professor Wylie took on the role of Associate Pro-Vice Chancellor for Global Engagement with responsibility for overseeing Nottingham’s activities in the Americas region.
Professor Wylie's research explores various aspects of modern warfare and draws on the disciplines of History, International Relations and International Law. His early work looked at the history of neutrality and non-belligerency, notably Anglo-Swiss relations, during the Second World War. More recently he has focused on the history of prisoners of war, the evolution of international humanitarian law and the Red Cross movement. Professor Wylie is currently a member of the International Committee of the Red Cross’s external review panel for the updated ‘commentary’ of the 3rd (POW) Geneva Convention of 1949. He is also on the organising committee for a ‘centenary’ conference of the International League of the Red Cross Societies, scheduled for June 2019.


Location: The Treehouse, Humanities Research Centre, Berrick Saul Building

Admission: All welcome