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MSF and the aid system: choosing not to choose

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Michaël Neuman
Michaël
Neuman

Director of studies at Crash / Médecins sans Frontières, Michaël Neuman graduated in Contemporary History and International Relations (University Paris-I). He joined Médecins sans Frontières in 1999 and has worked both on the ground (Balkans, Sudan, Caucasus, West Africa) and in headquarters (New York, Paris as deputy director responsible for programmes). He has also carried out research on issues of immigration and geopolitics. He is co-editor of "Humanitarian negotiations Revealed, the MSF experience" (London: Hurst and Co, 2011). He is also the co-editor of "Saving lives and staying alive. Humanitarian Security in the Age of Risk Management" (London: Hurst and Co, 2016).

Rony Brauman
Rony
Brauman

Medical doctor, specialized in tropical medicine and epidemiology. Involved in humanitarian action since 1977, he has been on numerous missions, mainly in contexts of armed conflicts and IDP situations. President of Médecins sans Frontières from 1982 to1994, he also teaches at the Humanitarian and Conflict Response Institute (HCRI) and is a regular contributor to Alternatives Economiques. He has published several books and articles, including "Guerre humanitaires ? Mensonges et Intox" (Textuel, 2018), "La Médecine Humanitaire" (PUF, 2010), "Penser dans l'urgence" (Editions du Seuil, 2006) and "Utopies Sanitaires" (Editions Le Pommier, 2000).

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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To cite this content :
Michaël Neuman, Rony Brauman, MSF and the aid system: choosing not to choose, 3 July 2014, URL : https://www.msf-crash.org/en/blog/humanitarian-actors-and-practice/msf-and-aid-system-choosing-not-choose

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