The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is a world-renowned humanitarian organization with a mandate to provide emergency relief and protection to populations affected by war. In recent decades, however, the organization has turned some of its attention to situations of urban armed violence. This thesis analyses what happens when a major humanitarian actor decides to act in a setting of ongoing, chronic armed violence in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and particularly how it shapes state actorsâ understandings of normality in relation to armed violence. The thesis analyses an ICRC program called Acesso Mais Seguro para ServiÃ§os PÃºblicos Essenciais (Safer Access to Public Essential Services, AMS), in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Through AMS, the ICRC and partner municipalities train service workers at public schools and clinics on risk management protocols and behaviours that help them protect themselves during situations of armed violence. I argue that the ICRC achieves a transposition of a humanitarian logic of action into the context of armed violence in Rio, by linking a perceived (ab)normality of potential danger from armed violence with (in)action. The program is based on a perception that people may banalize violence, and fail to act upon it as a result, if they âget used to it.â Part of the drive of AMS was to undo banalization, to make workers rethink certain events in terms of what was normal and what was not, while at the same time linking abnormality with the need for action according to AMS protocols. In this movement to undo banalization, however, AMS normalized armed violence as a regular occurrence that workers should expect and be prepared for. This thesis explores the workings of the ICRC program in relation to the state, how it attempts to persuade state actors to change their perceptions about violence, how service workers make use of the program, and the ways in which urban armed violence extrapolate the risk management framing of armed violence in AMS.
- Armed violence