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Crisis Response Journal Crisis Response Journal

The International Civil Defence Organisation (ICDO)

The origin of ICDO dates back to 1931. It was in Paris that the French Surgeon-General George Saint-Paul founded the Association of "Geneva Zones", from which the present International Civil Defence Organisation originated.

After the war of 1914-1918, Saint-Paul remained marked by the atrocity and cruelty that the population had suffered.

This gave him the idea to create safety areas, or neutralized zones, where civilians, in particular women, children, the elderly and the infirm, could seek refuge in times of war.

Soon after its creation, the membership of the Association grew to 5,000, including men and women of all backgrounds, life conditions, views and religions. This was considered a big success at the time!

In June 1935, the French Parliament recognized the Association.
In 1936, in line with its mandate to work for the humanization of armed conflict, the Association launched a call for the establishment of areas of refuge for the population during the Spanish Civil War, the Sino-Japanese War (1937) and later in France during the Second World War.