Georges Guillaume Morel was a delegate of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Australia during the Second World War. ICRC delegates visited internment camps and POW camps in most of the belligerent states to monitor what was happening in them. In 1940 the ICRC decided to establish an Australian delegation; its proposal was accepted by the Australian Government early in the following year. Altogether Australia would host three ICRC delegates through the course of the war, of whom Morel was the longest serving.
Born in Switzerland, Morel was a multi-lingual doctor of economics. During his visits to both internment and POW camps he followed the requirements of the ICRC’s impartial mandate, performing his functions without regard to race, politics or religion. In the absence of an approved international convention on the treatment of interned civilians, in 1939 the ICRC negotiated for the 1929 Geneva Convention on the Treatment of Prisoners of War to be applied to interned civilians. It was this Convention that Morel sought to uphold on his inspection visits to internment camps, POW camps, and the work camps attached to them.
Morel carried on his role until his death in October 1945 after an emergency medical operation. His wife Eugenie temporarily filled his position until the arrival of a new delegate, Pierre Descoueudres, in May 1946.
Christine Winter, ‘Limits of impartiality: The delegates of the International Committee of the Red Cross in Australia during the Second World War’, History Australia, Vol. 10, No. 2, 2013, pp. 56-74.
International Committee of the Red Cross, ‘Australia: ICRC delegation to Australia in Second World War’, https://www.icrc.org/en/document/australia-icrcs-delegation-australia-second-world-war. Accessed 21.2.21.
Peter Monteath, Captured Lives: Australia’s Wartime Internment Camps, Canberra: National Library of Australia, 2018.