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The fact that CRASH publications are written from an aid practitioner's, rather than researcher's, perspective, does not exempt them from the demands of rigorous research methods. We try hard at this, with the help of (volunteer) research professionals. The publications are not the MSF party line, but rather tools for reflexion based on MSF's framework and experience. They have only one purpose: to help us better understand what we are doing. Criticisms, comments and suggestions are more than welcome - they are expected.
Please note that most of the CRASH's publications are in French. Unfortunately, not all these publications have been translated into English; however do not hesitate to visit the French website to access our entire library of publications.
The work of Médecins Sans Frontières
Violence, Politics and Humanitarian Action
The Paradox of Humanitarian Action
The Médecins Sans Frontières report on the World Crisis Intervention
Cahiers du Crash
MSF Speaking Out
Internal documents – access restricted to MSF
Only introductions and chronologies of events are accessible online
The Crash – MSF
A structure to support critical reflection on humanitarian operations
This article was originally published in French on www.Grotius.fr, as part of a dossier on the contribution of research to humanitarian action, on October 3, 2014. Unlike most think tanks and research institutes devoted to the study of humanitarian aid, the CRASH - born of Médecins Sans Frontières leaders' desire for a structure to support critical reflection on their own operations - is an integral part of a relief organization.
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MSF and the aid system: choosing not to choose
We often hear it said within MSF that the aid system - that is to say all the institutional actors involved in international humanitarian aid - is unable to provide effective relief, or that the aid system's ability to provide aid is in decline. These statements, which suggest that MSF is itself outside the "system", are based on the very real number of people in relief operations who need help but do not receive it, or do not receive enough of it. But such a negative assessment could equally be applied to some of the operations of which MSF staff are most proud, and it ignores the transformations - both qualitative and quantitative -in aid techniques and policies. To have a practical application, any critique of the aid system needs to be located not in the ideal world, where disasters incur no victims, but in a historical and concrete reality. The aim of this paper is to explore MSF's relationship with the aid system, while showing how the ambitions of the aid system itself have evolved.
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“No patients, no problems”
Exposure to risk of medical personnel working in MSF projects in Yemen’s governorate of Amran
The result of an investigation launched in March 2013, this paper, published in the Journal of Humanitarian Affairs aims to provide a better understanding of the various forms of insecurity affecting Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) projects in Yemen and the ways the organisation and other health professionals adapt their work practices in response.
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The polio eradication campaign: time to shift the goal
The social rejection of the polio eradication campaign in endemic countries challenges an assumption underlying the goal itself: the full compliance of an entire population to a public health programme. The polio campaign, which has been an extraordinary public health enterprise, is at risk of becoming irremediably unpopular if the eradication goal is pursued at all costs. The Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) should not be driven by the fear of failure, because the greatest benefit of the polio campaign is that it has demonstrated how simple, community-wide actions can contribute to a dramatic decrease in the incidence of a disease.
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Deadly Gaps Persist in New Drug Development for Neglected Diseases
In a study published today in the open-access journal The Lancet Global Health, the Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi) and other researchers, including MSF-Crash Dr. Jean Hervé Bradol, report a persistent deficiency in truly new therapeutics for neglected diseases, despite nominal progress and an acceleration in research and development (R&D) efforts. This continued ‘fatal imbalance' in medical R&D points to the urgent need to develop and deliver groundbreaking new treatments for the world's poorest and most neglected patients.
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In this chronicle "Alternatives Internationales", Rony Brauman discusses the return of using community health workers as primary access points for healthcare, in the recommendations of the WHO and practices of some governments.
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Against the memorial laws
Considering that the United Nations juridictions officially recognises six genocides, Rony Brauman considers unjustifiable the fact that the French Parliament only recognises . The only alternative is to recognise all of them or none.
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40 years helping the disregarded
Rony Brauman discusses several aspects and issues related humanitarian action as well as the good reasons to wish Médecins sans frontières a happy 40th anniversary.
Follow-up to "Wartime rape: men, too"
The Observer published in July 2012 an article on male rape in wartime. The study described cases of rape in Congo and the aid and medical care they received in Uganda.
In reaction to this article, 209 comments were posted. The goal of this article by Marc Le Pape is not to judge certain arguments or interpretations of the rapists' behaviour as right or wrong but to show how these discussions and exchange of views address gender norms and rules. It also aims to identify the practical effects of major norms and rules on the provision of aid to victims.
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Famine in Somalia : warning against the warning!
In the context of emergency appeals in the Horn of Africa, Rony Brauman recalls the contemporary definition of a famine. While recognising the progress made in major crisis response mechanisms, he questions the alarmist attitude of the UN.
Médecins sans Frontières or the unabashed policy of "going it alone"
In this interview granted to Grotius.fr, Rony Brauman explains why the organization has historically "gone its own way". He also says he understands why MSF can give other humanitarian players the impression of being an "arrogant" NGO, a feeling that he himself acknowledges he "sometimes shares".
Criminalising the enemy and its impact on humanitarian action
Could a doctor working for a humanitarian organization be sentenced to life imprisonment in the United States for having disclosed his "technical expertise" to people linked with a "terrorist organization"? This is what U.S. civil liberties defenders fear since a June 21th Supreme Court ruling. This court ruling declared constitutional the legal system known as the Material Support Statute.
Darfur: the International Criminal Court is wrong
Rony Brauman criticises the International Criminal Court's indictment of the Sudanese president for genocide. If the prosecutor's argument is followed, humanitarian organisations working in the displaced people's camps should be charged with complicity in genocide.
Zones to Protect
Humanitarian law was designed as a normative framework, not as an indictment. With this in mind, Rony Brauman tries to define what constitutes a human shield...
"Not in our name": Why Medecins sans frontières does not support the "responsability of protect"
Argued in the 1990s in the name of the "right or duty to intervene", the application of military might to rescue populations in danger is now debated with reference to the "Responsibility to Protect" paradigm (or "R2P" for those in the know). In this article Fabrice Weissman explains why MSF refuses to adhere to this doctrine of ‘just war', whose legalisation would effectively be legalising a new form of imperialism.
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No credit for Drs Knock
Pharmaceutical companies produce drugs and are increasing involved in the clinical trials of these products. This conflict of interest is incompatible with the expectations of Public Health. Rony Brauman suggests that the industry no longer be responsible for therapeutic trials.
Flu: From Uncertainty to Illusion...
Based on MSF's experience in responding to epidemics, Jean-Hervé Bradol describes the risks of spending precious time and energy on trying to delay the spread of the epidemic rather than on the case management of large numbers of sick people.
Humanitarian Aid and the International Criminal Court Grounds for Divorce
This essay points out the fragility of the arguments most often used by humanitarian organizations to justify their support for an international criminal court. Questioning NGOs' infatuation with punitive justice, Fabrice Weissman argues that humanitarian organizations should advocate for politics of aid and mediation rather than for a global moral order based on judicial punishment and just war.
READ THE ARTICLE ON MAKING SENSE OF DARFUR SRRC BLOG
Responses to a seasonal high incidence of sever acute malnutrition operational lessons and policy changes
Dr. Jean-Hervé Bradol, Former President of MSF-France presented data based on MSF's experience in Niger that showed the implementation of the UN recommendation for the treatment of severe acute malnutrition was not possible in a high burden setting.
Humanitarian dilemmas in Darfur
With 13,000 humanitarian workers and a hundred relief agencies, Darfur hosts in 2008 the largest humanitarian operation in the world. While people are no longer dying en masse in Darfur, there are still pockets of excess mortality and continuing displacement of populations. Humanitarian organizations are facing new problems, due as much to the transformation in the political/military environment as to dysfunctionality in the aid system.
Independence and Innovation, Look beyond the Magic of Words
Though independence and innovation are both highly valued concepts, Xavier Crombé questions in this article - thanks to MSF's experiences in Niger in 2005 - the possible interactions between them.
An appeal for Darfur, Killings and Demagogy
Jean-Hervé Bradol and Fabrice Weissman respond to Collectif Urgence Darfour's call for armed intervention in Darfur to "stop the massacres," and to promises along these lines by candidates in France's presidential election.
The International reaction to the Darfur Crisis: An Humanitarian Point of View
Fabrice Weissman looks at the major stages of the Darfur conflict since 2003 from the perspective of a humanitarian medical organisation. He questions the predominant reading of this crisis, and cautions against the illusions of international armed intervention in the region.
Independance and security
MSF is an independent organisation that carefully protects its autonomy. In this article, Xavier Crombé draws the connection between this founding principle and the issue of security for humanitarian actors.
Humanitarian Aid Held Hostage
Aid organisations have been held hostage to the showdown between the Sudanese government and the international community.
Dangerous liaisons: bearing witness and political propaganda
Biafra and Cambodia – the Founding Myths of Médecins Sans Frontières
Rony Brauman looks back at the events in Biafra in 1968-1969 and Cambodia in 1979.
Based on the existence of a famine (in Cambodia) or genocide (in Biafra), humanitarian rhetoric served as a sounding board for political propaganda. A few years later it was clear there had been no genocide in Biafra nor famine in Cambodia.
Dangerous Liaisons: Bearing Witness and Political Propaganda
Global media and the Myths of Humanitarian Relief: The Case of the 2004 Tsunami
Rony Brauman reviews the myths and mechanisms governing the deployment of international aid following the Southeast Asian tsunami in December 2004.
Child Soldiers in Africa: A singular Phenomenon?
The much publicized figure of the child soldier in Africa is placed in context in this historiographical survey: the author ties it to the general subject of children in war - which has affected America and Europe at different times - and reveals the necessity of developing a history of child status in Africa.
Genocide, upping the stakes
Rony Brauman decribes how the qualification of the conflict in Darfur as genocide leads only to a dead end and warns against the abuse of this concept.
Genocide, a word with many meanings
Rony Brauman analyses the de-politicization and criminalisation process of the conflict in Darfur, resulting from an exclusively ethnic reading of this crisis and by the inappropriate use of the concept of "genocide".
Military humanitarism: a deadly confusion
Fabrice Weissman reminds us that while the clarity of the humanitarian emblem is no guarantee of absolute safety, it is nevertheless an essential prerequisite to it.
Humanitarian action and military intervention: Temptations and possibilities
Using the example of Liberia, Fabrice Weissman examines the public statements of NGOs and their positions with regard to denunciation and/or calls for international intervention.
Is independent humanitarian action over in Afghanistan?
This article questions the independence of humanitarian action in Afghanistan, at a time when aid initiatives from military forces blurs differences, and when NGOs financed mostly by institutional funding risk becoming mere "implementing partners" of an aid policy driven by a political agenda.
Health and Human rights
Rony Brauman questions the link between public health decisions and the right to health care.
The Food Emergency in Ethiopia: What the Drought Conceals
Fabrice Weissman highlights the political factors at work behind the threat of famine - which, though very real, cannot be fully explained by natural causes - and casts a critical eye on the relief system, as well.
Humanitarian action victim of its own success
Fiona Terry observes that the "humanitarian" label is often co-opted by parties to a conflict - Western governments, in particular - a practice that has distorted and diminished the concept of humanitarian action to the point where it has lost sight of its original objectives.
Codes of conduct: whose interests do they serve?
As the United States announces its decision to suspend food aid to North Korea - one of the largest beneficiaries of global food aid - Fiona Terry reveals the true political issues behind the decision, and reminds us of how "humanitarian" assistance is used to bolster one of the planet's most oppressive regimes. She urges NGOs to take a critical look at their own actions.
Rony Brauman reminds us that humanitarian organisations cannot evaluate their actions solely by the yardstick of the means they implement, but that they have a responsibility to consider the real consequences of their actions.
The Deadly Secrets of north korea
In this article, Fiona Terry discusses the tragic situation of the North Korean people, despite North Korea being one of the world's largest beneficiaries of food aid. As she points out, "The purpose of humanitarian aid is to save lives, but by channelling it through the regime responsible for perpetuating the suffering, it has become part of the system of oppression."
Military involvement in Refugee crisis, a positive evolution?
Military involvement in refugee relief operations has undergone a remarkable evolution during the past decade. Some aid organisations have welcomed this development, and increasing attention is being paid to issues of civil-military cooperation. However, although few would contest that military forces possess logistical capacities unmatched in the aid community, important questions remain as to the appropriateness of an increased military presence beside humanitarian organisations in the field.
The Limits and Risks of Regulation Mechanisms for Humanitarian Action
This brief article aims to clarify some of the central concerns held by organisations like Médecins sans Frontières as regards the approach and the application of uniform set of standards to respond to the needs of people in distress.
Terror and Impunity in Rwanda
Not having seen the genocidal drift of Hutu Power in 1994 coming, the international community grants Paul Kagame's RPF the impunity of victims. Yet such power also lends itself to criminal acts. The authors express their indignance that NGOs and international organisations - invoking the duty of remembrance - join in the endless evocation of the past that masks the political phenomena at the root of the current violence.
The evolving role of the state, donors and NGOs providing health services in a liberal environment, Some insights from Uganda
Under the general framework of liberal economic reforms, a "mixed" system of health care provision, combining the state, donors, NGOs and beneficiaries, is emerging in Uganda. Nicolas de Torrente is questioning how far have these reforms seeking to rebuild and reshape the health care system, how are reforms affecting the actual delivery of health services and what are the implications of these reforms in terms of the sustainability and equity.
Reconstituting whose Social Order, NGOS in disrupted States
What role should NGOs play in states undergoing reconstruction? What position should they take vis-à-vis civilian donors (governments and supranational institutions) and armed forces?
For the publication of the Dictionnaire d'Ethique et de philosophie morale, the former president of Médecins Sans Frontières offers a definition of humanitarian aid.
Is Humanitarism a form of Political Commitment?
Behind the question, "Is humanitarianism a commitment?", Rony Brauman warns against the use of humanitarianism in the public arena. Investing the political realm with the moral expectations of a better world, humanitarianism might unintentionally be helping to make "survival of the fittest" more palatable.
Somalia: A Humanitarian Crime
In 1993, Médecins Sans Frontières left Somalia and denounced the methods of UN troops who were violating the very humanitarian principles in whose name they intervened.