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Off the cuff
Rights and Justice

Practices and critiques of international humanitarian law

The development of contemporary humanitarian action has historically been associated with international humanitarian law. Viewed as a framework and scope for humanitarian action by certain players and as ambiguous (necro)ethics to be used as a political resource whenever necessary by others, humanitarian law has played a pivotal role in various controversies roiling MSF and the aid community. The studies contained in this volume explore these controversies, delving into the relationships between humanitarian organisations, international criminal justice, the right to intervene, the law-making process and the various ways the law is used.

13 avril 1994. Réfugiés rwandais à la frontière entre le Burundi et le Rwanda
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Genocide from an historical, legal and political standpoint

The publication of the journalist Judi Rever’s book, In Praise of Blood, on the crimes committed by the Rwandan Patriotic Front’s armed rebellion has rekindled discussion over the existence of a “double genocide”, one committed against the Tutsis under the orders of Rwanda’s interim government which took power in April 1994 following the assassination of President Habyarimana, and the other against the Hutus by the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) which seized power in July 1994. There is little or no controversy about the reality of the genocide of the Tutsis in the world of Rwandan studies, but the claim that the Hutus were in turn victims of genocide sparks reactions as violent as they are confused. The cause of this confusion can be found in the different definitions of a term used in at least three fields: history, law and politics.

Vue de l'intérieur de l'hôpital MSF à Kunduz, après son bombardement, octobre 2015
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Humanitarian Wars ? - Interview with Rony Brauman

Rony Brauman has just published “Guerres humanitaires ? Mensonges et intox”. This book, a collection of interviews co-authored with Régis Meyran, explores a number of recent armed interventions that have all shared the goal of saving lives. Reviewing conflicts in Somalia, Libya, Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq, Brauman discusses the reasons advanced for justifying these wars and the accompanying lies.

Une coordinatrice entourée d'enfants avance avec un drapeau MSF pour éviter les tirs
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ATHA Podcast: The Protection of Humanitarian Aid Workers Under International Law

Given that aid workers frequently operate in complex and insecure settings, some risks are inherent to humanitarian action. Nonetheless, recent years have seen a significant increase, in absolute terms, in deliberate attacks against humanitarian professionals.

Humanitarian from Mingkaman medical center, South Sudan
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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"...