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humanitarian principles

Inside MSF's hospital in Qayyarah, Iraq
Article

The Challenges of Globalization of International Relief and Development

First Published December 1, 1999 - Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly (NVSQ) - Volume 28 Issue 1.

This article begins with a look at the role played by Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) since its inception in 1971, and then looks at the challenges facing MSF today. It focuses on the confusion of humanitarian and political roles and on the goals MSF has laid out for itself to address this confusion. Humanitarian aid has become the favored response of governments to political crises, and governments have increasingly turned to NGOs to carry out their policies. In turn, NGOs have become increasingly dependent on governments for financial support. These changes have politicized aid delivery and made it difficult for NGOs to maintain their independence. In addition, as the number of NGOs increases and their activities become more specialized, there are pressures toward institutionalization and bureaucratization. To respond to these challenges, MSF has identified several goals, including maintaining organizational independence and flexibility and avoiding bureaucratization.

MSF in Al Dhale and Taiz, Yemen. July 2015
Article

Oases of Humanity and the Realities of War

The rehabilitation of international humanitarian law (IHL) has become a priority for those who think that the horrors of contemporary wars are largely due to the blurring of the distinction between civilians and combatants and for those who think that campaigning for the respect of IHL could result in more civilised wars. Similarly, respect for humanitarian principles is still seen by many as the best tool available to protect the safety of aid workers. In this text, I argue that both assumptions are misled. The distinction between civilians and combatants, a cornerstone of IHL, has been blurred in practice since the late nineteenth century. In addition, humanitarian agencies claiming to be ‘principled’ have been victims of attacks as much as others. History and current practice tell us that neither IHL nor humanitarian principles provide safety or can guide our decisions. Accepting their symbolic value, rather than their unrealised potential to protect and solve operational dilemmas, would free humanitarian agencies from endless speculations.

A young girl walks in the streets of Bama
Article

War and humanitarian aid

Rony Brauman focuses on the humanitarian environment and practices in war, in order to try to understand and analyze its political and ethical stakes. Starting with the creation of the Red Cross at the end of the XIXth century, he then focused on the contemporary postcolonial period, switching between various scales and reporting on contradictory points of view and issues.

Un homme transporte des sodas dans le camp de réfugiés de Dadaab
Article

MSF and the aid system: choosing not to choose

We often hear it said within MSF that the aid system 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. 

Un homme transporte des sodas dans le camp de réfugiés de Dadaab
Blog post

MSF and the aid system: choosing not to choose

We often hear it said within MSF that the aid system is unable to provide effective relief, or that the aid system's ability to provide aid is in decline. Rony Brauman and Michaël Neuman aim at exploring MSF's relationship with the aid system, while showing how the ambitions of the aid system itself have evolved.

 

 

Humanitarian from Mingkaman medical center, South Sudan
Blog post

Perspectives on the future of humanitarian action

On the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the ICRC (1863-2013) and in light of the recently launched issue of the Review on "The future of humanitarian action", the Harvard Program on Humanitarian Policy and Conflict Research (HPCR) and the International Review of the Red Cross are pleased to co-host a Live Web Seminar on the topic: "Perspectives on the Future of Humanitarian Action"...