How can aid workers help war victims without falling prey to, or becoming complicit with, their persecutors?
Humanitarian organisations have an ambiguous relationship with the violence of war. Seeking to relieve its severity, they contribute to its continuation to varying degrees while subjecting themselves to becoming targets. This collection of studies explores the way aid workers attempt to “humanise” war and face the risk of becoming victims of or complicit in the war.
In the eyes of Rony Brauman of Médecins sans Frontières, wars are always triggered in the name of morality. Today’s “humanitarian” interventions are little more than new moral crusades – and their justifications are based on lies.
Although much has been written about the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, two recent volumes offer fresh perspectives and add considerable insights. Guichaoua’s From War to Genocide: Criminal Politics in Rwanda 1990–1994 takes the reader deep into the belly of the beast. The book describes and analyzes the real politics of the politics of genocide based on extraordinary detailed evidence with respect to the strategies and tactics of key military and political players. Bradol and Le Pape’s Humanitarian Aid, Genocide and Mass Killings: Médecins Sans Frontières, The Rwandan Experience, 1982–97 offers a unique understanding of the consequences of this murderous political game from the point of view of humanitarian aid workers in general and the NGO Doctors Without Borders (Médecins Sans Frontières – MSF) in particular.
Published in March 2018, Judi Rever’s investigative work, In Praise of Blood, quickly garnered international attention. It is an indictment of both the Rwandan patriotic front (RPF) and its leader, current Rwandan president Paul Kagame, and foreign governments and international institutions – the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), in particular – that allowed crimes committed against Hutu civilians to go unpunished.Judi Rever’s book is more than a work of investigation. It reads like a prosecutor’s closing argument: the massacres are described in such a way as to classify them as genocide. And it is precisely this combination of investigation and the pursuit of evidence that would stand up in a court of law that is problematic.
Kevin MacMahon's review of "Saving Lives and Staying Alive: Humanitarian Security in the Age of Risk Management" (Michaël Neuman and Fabrice Weissman, London: C. Hurst & Co, 2016) is published in the Journal for the Study of Peace and Conflict (2016, pages 69-70).
This op-ed article was published on 27 October 2017 in the French weekly Marianne. He writes it in the backdrop of a controversy around a "Que Sais-Je" book on Rwanda published by the Belgian researcher, Filip Reyntjens and the accusations against him that he rewrites history and seeks to minor the genocide of the Tutsis in 1994.
How can anyone write about Rwanda without being called a denialist? Marc Le Pape tries to craft an answer in this article, published on the website The Conversation on 19 October 2017.
Throughout the 1990s, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) was forced to face the challenges posed by the genocide of Rwandan Tutsis and a succession of major outbreaks of political violence in Rwanda and its neighbouring countries.
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.
This review of Larissa Fast's " 'Aid in Danger'. The Perils and Promise of Humanitarianism" was published in the International Review of the Red Cross (Volume 96 / Issue 894)