Board meetings minutes (hereafter referred to as ‘BM’) and Presidents’ annual reports (‘AR’) since 1978 have been one major material for the present paper. In reviewing these documents, I took extensive notes. I would retain in particular the parts where our role in conflicts was theorised in general and those in which debates occurred upon dilemmas and decisions in specific crises.
In the course of the analysis, I resorted a few times to the function ‘search’ in order to quickly identify, within these notes, how the use of one specific word evolved internally. Subsequently, I thought it useful to give access to these ‘search’ results. Three relevant ‘key-words’ are presented here: “protection/protect”, “right(s)”, and civilian(s)”. Although these lists of occurrences do not depict exhaustively the status and use of each of these terms, it may enable us to identify, in the space of a few pages, the shifts that have occurred in their use at Board meetings and Presidents’ annual reports over the course of thirty years.
OCCURRENCES OF “PROTECTION / PROTECT” (ATTRIBUTED TO MSF OR TO THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY)
BM 19 Feb. 1984: MSF is in contention for a Nobel Prize. Of great importance is the “protection this prize would afford our teams”.
AR 1984: Production of a “charter for the protection of humanitarian medical teams”.
AR 1986-87: Public opinion is “our only protection in many exposed places”.
BM 22 July 1988: Honduras: “UNHCR, whose mandate is to protect refugees, is in a very difficult position. It is trying to protect the refugees both against the committees and the Honduran army.”
AR 1988: “The perpetuation of refugee camps in the Third World is a source of multiple tensions which may themselves create serious problems concerning protection … We have, as I’ve already said, an important role to play in the field of protection against attacks from outside”. “In Sri Lanka, where problems of protection – for the teams and the mission – prevented us from speaking openly …”
AR 1989: Mozambique: “This mission has another important objective – to provide refugees with protection against forced return.”
AR 1990: Mozambican refugees in Malawi: “As donor countries seem to prefer resettlement in the country of origin to assistance in the camps, we are tempted to see, behind this fortunately unrealised desire, the quest for easily funded programmes rather than for protection.”
BM 27 Apr. 1991: Kurdistan, description of the camps: “…there is a dispensary. But the real problem is not assistance but the protection required by people under threat.”
AR 1990-91: Kurdistan, false hopes concerning the right to intervene: “It seems to me that such action falls within the province of international protection and political improvisation rather than of intervention.”
BM 25 Sept. 92: Somalia, escalation of security problems with the arrival of humanitarian organisations: “MSF has to consider the issue of paying armed guards to assure the protection of teams …”
BM 5 Mar. 93: Somalia: debate on the “protection of teams” and the reduction of the work space.
BM 27 Aug. 93: Former Yugoslavia (exploratory mission): “Lack of UNHCR protection measures specifically aimed at Muslims.”
BM 12 Jan. 1994: Burundian refugees in Rwanda: “UNHCR is delegating more than ever and no longer assures the protection of refugees.”
AR 1993-94: Rwanda: “The UN has bailed out of Rwanda [execution of Blue Helmets]… We now hear that His Excellency the SG is thinking about sending a protection force! – to guard the mass graves?”
BM 24 June 1994: Rwanda, withdrawal of UNAMIR: “We don’t even have that protection any more.” Tanzania: MSF refuses to intervene if certain measures are not put in place, including the provision of more UNHCR “protection officers”.
BM 16 Dec. 1994: Rwandan refugees: MSF-B “is trying to persuade the refugees to accept return (without committing itself on security) and favours safe corridors and transit camps within Rwanda (under the protection of the international community) while the search for a solution goes on”.
AR 1994-95: Refugees: the refugee status gives them “less and less security and protection”.
BM June 1995: Rwanda: “Marc Gastellu has asked Nicolas de Torrente to assess the operations in Rwanda over the past year (protection, communication …)”
BM 1 Sept. 1995: Rwandan refugee camps and withdrawal of the Belgian and Dutch sections: “They are now wondering – from the point of view of the protection of the refugees – if this is the time to leave.” Safety of expatriates in Bosnia: “No possible protection: the average Serb thinks we’re the ones who are bombing them.” For the Populations in Danger book, there are two major themes: “protection of populations” and “accountability”.
BM 27 Oct. 1995: Exploratory mission in Iran: “There is currently no protection for refugees (we do not have access to them).” The possibility of an MSF intervention: “Nobody is working in this field and there are people in need of protection.” Disappearances.
BM 26 Jan. 1996: Zaire: “You’d have to be like a fish within the waters of the population, in the knowledge that protection won’t come from above or from governments. We’ve got to revise our security culture and go back to factual, non-political testimony.”
BM 31 May 1996: Liberia (pillage): “We have decided to talk about the victims rather than the colossal damage (not for the protection of civilians but for the safety of the teams).”
BM 28 June 1996: Burundi: “The risk of a joint intervention by Tanzania and Uganda seems to be increasing … with a mandate to protect civil society in Burundi” (which would result in the departure of MSF).
BM 29 Nov. 1996: Great Lakes: the repatriation by the Rwandan army/Banyamulenge was perhaps “essentially designed to pre-empt the international desire to become involved in the protection of these populations. It succeeded beyond all expectations.”
BM 24 Jan. 1997: Zaire discussion: “Some of the missing refugees have been found … There is now a problem with recognising and protecting these people … Protection of the refugees was sacrificed to the need to repatriate them immediately.”
AR 1996-97: Refugees: “In most cases, they have no option but to remain at the heart of the conflict, where it is extremely difficult to protect them … The current problem for humanitarian organizations is not the provision of material assistance to populations, but the failure to acknowledge both the existence of legally defined refugees and the lack or precariousness of the protection provided for them.” On the hunting down of refugees in Zaire: “MSF and several other organizations called for a military intervention to assure the protection of refugees and break the leaders’ hold over them …”
BM 11 July 1997: Great Lakes: “The people who flee are seeking protection against the death squads, which are clearly still operating.”
BM 28 Aug. 1998: DRC: “The ICRC has obtained protection for a small number of threatened people, but the manhunt continues.”
BM 30 Apr. 1999: Kosovo: “One of the major problems of this crisis is the human rights aspect, the humiliation, the plundering of property. Given that these people have been robbed of their identity papers, MSF immediately called for protection and registration (currently almost non-existent).”
AR 1998-99: Kosovo, on refugees being absorbed into other countries: “When this occurred, one of the essential stages in the protection of and assistance to refugees was evaded. The registration, identification and counting of refugees did not take place.” On the way in which western countries exploited refugees: “The deportees were initially useful as victims of Milosevic, but very embarrassing as asylum seekers who were entitled to protection and assistance.”
BM 25 June 1999: Kosovo: “A (foreign) army is not necessarily effective in terms of protecting people against civil insecurity.”
BM 19 Nov. 1999: MSF calls for an inquiry into the events at Srebrenica: “To shed light on the mechanisms which, paradoxically, claimed to guarantee the protection of populations while diluting responsibilities and dividing powers … They said to us, ‘Go ahead, we’re protecting them,’ and then it was a massacre.”
BM 27 Oct. 2000: Communication objectives (major themes): “The system of food aid and the protection of populations.”
BM 2 Mar. 2001: Guinea-Sierra Leone: “Every time it comes down to actually protecting civilians, the great international mobilisation produces nothing.” MSF should call for the Sierra Leonean refugees to be sheltered in proper camps situated some distance from the border with a “very strong international protection.”
BM 27 Apr. 2001: Neutrality “is a ‘demand for protection’ in exchange for not taking sides”.
AR 2000-01: Sierra Leone: “The joint military intervention conducted by the United Nations, ECOWAS and the UK is providing little protection for Sierra Leonean civilians.” The international responses to crises: “The protection afforded by states and the United Nations is precarious or non-existent and the quality of the relief remains highly inadequate.” Safe areas: “Conceived as an alternative to population displacement, they are illusory in terms of protecting a population…”
BM 31 Aug. 2001: Liberia, acknowledgement of the conflict by the UNSC: a positive move “which in September will enable us to chase up donor countries for operations in the field (protection, security, assistance)”.
BM 22 Mar. 2002: UNHCR report on abuses in camps: discussions never approach the refugees’ “need for greater protection …” “Our main concern is to publicise what fails being done in terms of protection of refugees … our press releases this year have done nothing but drum out the lack of protection for refugees in these three countries.”
BM 26 Apr. 2002: Sierra Leone: the many non-registered persons “therefore cannot be monitored and have no protection”.
BM 28 Feb. 2003: Project of book Populations in danger [In the Shadow of Just Wars]: “[On the 1990s] … a new geography of international interventions, military interventions based on both the right to intervene and the protection of relief operations.”
BM 24 Apr. 2003: West Africa, main issues: “1) The protection of civilians … UNHCR is far from fulfilling its mandate to protect refugees.” MSF notes the “lack of initiatives and means to reduce the level of conflicts and protect civilians”.
BM 16 May 2003: Discussion with the country coordinators: some believe that refocusing on the medical side has “eroded our potential for militancy, notably concerning the protection of populations (which was at one point almost a taboo here).”
AR 2002-03: Abuse in West Africa refugee camps: “Last year, we highlighted the low level of protection and assistance available to the populations affected by these wars, to the victims of acts of violence … a year later the situation is even worse. There is no more protection for these people now than there was then.” Team safety: “Our first protection: our strategic choices, our understanding of the contexts and our ability to build up a network of relations.”
BM 26 June 2003: Afghanistan, the deteriorating security situation: “Immediately raise the issue of the protection of our personnel, both local and expatriate.”
BM 31 Oct. 2003: Armenia: problems linked to the law, which does not guarantee “adequate protection for children and MSF personnel”. A mission that links “social action to the protection of children’s health”.
AR 2003-04: “Similarly, our discussions of conflicts have been marked by the resurgence of calls for international protection which, in my view, are hardly realistic.”
BM 25 June 2004: China, Baoji: “The legal protection of children was totally neglected by MSF… Within which strategic line should this programme fall: child welfare?”
BM 26 Nov. 2003: Ivory Coast: “… problems of protection, given the intense xenophobia at present … a more robust team is being deployed in Guiglo to tackle the growing problem of protection”.
BM 25 Nov. 2005: Chechen refugees in Poland: “Our action responds to the need for assistance in terms of protection in order to create rights for these populations.”
BM 28 Apr. 2006: Chad, CAR: refugees “no longer know where to go for assistance and protection”.
AR 2005-06: La Mancha process: “We pointed to several decisions which, in hindsight, appeared to be errors and illusions on the part of MSF. For example, there was the illusion that our presence in the field made a significant contribution to the protection of populations.”
La Mancha, “In the case of massive and neglected acts of violence against individuals Final Agreement, or groups, we should speak out publicly, based on our eyewitness accounts, 25 June 2006: medical data and experience. However, through these actions we do notprofess to ensure the physical protection of people that we assist”
BM 30 Mar. 2007: DRC: MONUC “certainly has a protective role”. The situation “would probably be worse” without it. Press releases concerning VSV: “Protection goes as far as providing a medical certificate for anyone who requests it – that’s about our limit in terms of protection” (personal notes on the BM).
OCCURRENCES OF “RIGHT(S)” (“HUMAN RIGHTS”, “PEOPLES’ RIGHTS” THE “RIGHT TO HUMANITARIAN ASSISTANCE”, ETC.) AND LINKED EXPRESSIONS (GENEVA CONVENTIONS, ETC.)
AR 1978: “When MSF members return from missions, they will inform the board of any human rights violations and unacceptable facts they may have witnessed.”
AR 1980: “Problems of war, problems of under-development and serious breaches of human rights have forced us to think about our role.”
AR 1981: “Everyone will join me so that we can make a dream come true … the crazy dream of devoting our skills, hearts and enthusiasm to ensuring that nobody is ever forgotten … and sometimes also to testify to the attacks on peoples’ rights, these famines, deportations and massacres …”
AR 1982: “We would like the means to make our voice heard when it is necessary to denounce the attacks on people’s rights that we alone have witnessed.”
AR 1984: Decision to create a research centre to examine issues such as development, human rights and peoples’ rights.
BM May 1985: Importance of human rights in the image and action of Médecins sans Frontières; need to develop our analysis of Third World issues.
AR 1985: Guinea: “Along with our friends from the Guinean Human Rights League, we rendered the ultimate homage to the thousands of victims of Boiro: that of memory.”
BM 25 Nov. 1985: Ethiopia: at a meeting between NGOs and UN officials, R. Brauman reminds the secretary-general’s representative of the “principles of press freedom and the UN Declaration of Human Rights”.
BM Mar. 1986: March for the hostages in Lebanon: “MSF’s participation in defending human rights is legitimate.”
AR 1986-87: “Our work in the field brings us into daily contact with the failures of development and the problem of human rights throughout the world.”
BM Sept. 1987: ATD Quart Monde organizes a Human Rights Day; MSF participates.
BM Oct. 1987: Re-energise MSF regional branches around ‘key’ themes such as “human rights”.
BM May 1988: Project for the drafting of a new Declaration of Human Rights: “As a human rights practitioner … MSF should participate in this initiative”. Sudan (the ‘Little Hitler’ affair): a meeting to discuss “the policy on témoignage and human rights”.
AR 1988: The problem of refugee protection cannot be summarised by idealistic oppositions such as ‘human rights/reasons of state’ or ‘refugees good/governments bad’ … The defence of human rights has become … a central issue in international relations. While I am not certain that the reasons behind this are blameless, I am nevertheless convinced that we should seize these noble declarations on the wing and hold to account the people who make them … But we are powerless against an internal system of repression” which allows no freedom whatsoever. The limits of humanitarian action appear when “rights collide with force and are smashed”.
AR 1989: The Europe missions are missions in which “medicine and human rights are closely linked … [it is] fundamental that support for human rights movements retains its place at MSF.” A debate (to advance the principle of the right to humanitarian assistance) on the constitution of a corps of “white helmets tasked with the creation of access corridors to stricken areas and protected perimeters, enabling relief teams and supplies to reach them”.
BM Oct. 89: Debate on Eastern Europe. Supporters of intervention: “It means a great deal, it’s closely connected to human rights, to the history of what MSF has done”. Rony: “Little enthusiasm for this kind of mission. In my view, what we are doing in Armenia is harder to explain than what we are doing in Africa.” “There is no canon law we can refer to; it’s hard to defend, but [Rony] won’t oppose it.” “Rony Brauman suggests we approach institutions to promote the right to asylum and the rights of refugees.”
BM Dec. 1989: Governments becoming involved in humanitarian action: “That’s the price of the human rights impact of humanitarian action”. Cambodia: “We took a public stance because there are human rights problems.”
AR 1990-91: Iraq: “Did we see, during that spectacular development in the soap opera of the year, the right to humanitarian intervention elevated to a duty which states would henceforth accept, the latest incarnation of historical Reason and Progress? As we have publicly stated, the answer is no … In my view that action stemmed more from international protection and political improvisation than from intervention … Should we distinguish between humanitarianism, the general interest, social utility, and defence of human rights? I think we should.”
BM Apr. 1992: Bangkok project with children, debate on the problems specific to children: those who support the project see “clear evidence” of “attacks on human rights”.
AR 1991-92: MSF wins the Council of Europe’s human rights award. “In my view, and I believe it is a view that everyone shares, the least the international community should do for the people fleeing oppression and war is give them the right of asylum.”
BM 26 Mar. 1993: Populations in Danger book (contextual analysis): “NGO confronted with security problems arising from the increase in violence; respect for human rights, international law …”
BM Apr. 1993: Bosnia, debate on témoignage: in favour – “At last, we are envisaging something other than humanitarian action, which has reached its limits” (M.Roux). Against – “Risk of a human rights seesaw [regarding our action]” (Rufin).
AR 1992-93: Kurdistan: “There is a human rights problem … [but] little on which … MSF can have a genuine impact. In the 1992 annual report, I had referred to our relatively contemplative role, the impossibility of really fulfilling the human rights sentinel role we had given ourselves.”
BM Aug. 1993: Somalia: “MSF-Belgium has witnessed atrocities and has decided to refer them to organizations to combat human rights (sic).”
AR 1993-94: Somalia: “Under the banner of solidarity, human rights and humanitarian aid, we saw combat helicopters attacking demonstrations … Are peacekeeping forces, military-humanitarian forces, obliged to respect the principles of humanitarian law or not?”
BM Oct. 1993: Madagascar: “One of our projects is now focusing on respect for children’s rights in the prisons there. Together with other organizations, we are acting as watchdogs.”
BM Nov. 1993: Introduction of the Board to the field administrators. Response to a question concerning MSF’s position in the humanitarian field: “MSF’s position is to stick as closely as possible to medical activities, to give priority to emergencies; the right of témoignage is in fact a duty, an integral aspect of humanitarianism.”
BM 25 Mar. 1994: Burundian refugees in Rwanda: “… there has been no analysis of the political side: the right of asylum, why people are fleeing, the nature of the colossal conflict between Hutus and Tutsis …”
BM Sept. 1994: Great Lakes: “In Tanzania, the MSF human rights observers programme is a failure.”
BM Mar. 1995: Chechnya: “We are trying to communicate the message that there are persistent violations of the Geneva Conventions, since civilians are being targeted and denied assistance.”
BM June1995: Madagascar, detainees: conditions are deplorable and “human rights are being violated”.
BM Sept. 1995: Bosnia: MSF’s film is a “tool … but it is not the work of an organisation which specialises in human rights”.
Chantilly 1995:Témoignage comes into play when MSF volunteers are “witnesses to massive human rights violations”.
BM Nov. 1995: Draft communication for the 25th anniversary: “These events, in the course of which fundamental human rights and the rights of humanity were flouted thanks to the passive complicity of the international community, forced MSF to become an active witness in order to highlight the predicament of distressed populations. MSF, a witness to events around the world, is led to speak out when the fundamental rights of the populations with whom it works are threatened. For these threats must be revealed.”
AR 1995-96: On témoignage: “MSF warns of manipulation and denounces if it has witnessed violations of the Geneva Conventions and other declarations to which all, or almost all, states are signatories …”
BM Oct. 1996: Mission France: “The law concerning foreigners and government policy … constitute attacks on human rights … there is currently insufficient support for these populations in danger with regard to their legal rights.”
AR 1996-97: “We must all move forward together on the matter of our responsibility, MSF’s responsibility, in the light of massive human rights violations; the context of the Great Lakes will help us to do that.”
BM Sept. 1997: Great Lakes: sections decide to “informal but strong links with human rights organizations”.
AR 1998-99: Kosovo: “In fact, the issue of the rights of refugees and the problem of their reception and instrumentalisation were present from the outset. At first, the deportees were useful as victims of Milosevic, but they were very embarrassing as asylum seekers who were entitled to protection and assistance.”
BM Apr. 1999: Kosovo: besides the brutality, one major problem is the “human rights aspect, the humiliation … It seems to me that what we have seen is not so much a ‘humanitarian crisis’ as a flawed response in terms of human rights and legal matters”.
BM June 2000: Sierra Leone, resumption of the war: each UN agency “has its own human rights section”. There is a confusion amongst the UN and NGOs (human rights oriented v. supporting the health system).
BM Apr. 2001: “Neutrality does not mean you have to remain silent when faced with serious violations of the Geneva Conventions.”
BM June 2001: Neutrality: “Denouncing or condemning what armies and militias do to the civilian population, or revealing violations of international humanitarian law, does not mean siding with a belligerent.”
BM 30 Nov. 2001: Afghanistan: “A number of massacres seem to have negated all respect for the Geneva Conventions.”
AR 2001-2002: “Chechnya has become a lawless state. At the moment, smashing the resistance means smashing the population.”
BM Apr. 2003: West Africa: issues include “the protection of civilians … the right to flee is limited or thwarted by the authorities of a third country … very few places of safety”.
BM May 2003: Debate on the expansion of MSF’s framework of intervention: “The action which tends to produce rights comes rather under the citizen action than under the core activities of our organization.”
AR 2004-05: Darfur: “We do not see this as a responsibility we have to act as some sort of human rights observer in this mission”
BM 26 June 2005: Darfur: “We have expressed reservations on the quality of the report produced by MSF-Holland, but on the fundamental issue – the denunciation of the rapes – we are in total agreement. The reservations have more to do with the fact that the report is couched in the language of a human rights organization rather than of a humanitarian organization which specialises in medical action … but we can only be pleased that this topic (though perhaps clumsily quantified) had been raised”
BM Nov. 2005: Chechnya: “In my view, our action responds to the need for assistance in terms of protection in order to create rights for these populations.”
BM Mar. 2006: La Mancha: clarification on the “limits of MSF’s role as regards the prevention and resolution of conflicts, the call for military interventions, the promotion of human rights and of international legal action”.
La Mancha, Final “… MSF actions coincide with some of the goals of human rights Agreement, organizations; however, our goal is medical-humanitarian action rather 25 June 2006: than the promotion of such rights”
AR 2005-06: On La Mancha: “The distinction between a humanitarian organisation and an organisation working to promote human rights has been clarified.”
OCCURRENCES OF “CIVILIANS / CIVILIAN POPULATIONS”
AR 1981: Lebanon: mortars, artillery fire and rockets “bombard the neighbourhoods for hours at a time, blindly striking an exhausted and battered civilian population”.
AR 1982: Lebanon, Kurdistan: “Of course it is always the civilian populations who pay the price of these blind and brutal policies.”
AR 1984: Afghanistan: “We look on, powerless, as high-altitude bombers blindly strike the civilian population.”
BM Nov. 1986: Mozambique: “Civilian populations are taking refuge in all the neighbouring countries.”
BM 30 Oct. 1992: Former Yugoslavia: “F. Jean pointed to the unacceptable and absurd situation of the several thousand civilians interned in camps.” Somalia: the situation’s reversal (the taking of Barbera by Morgan’s forces) “has trapped thousands of civilians”.
BM 25 June 1993: Somalia: “On what legal basis does the United Nations rely when it judges Aideed, sends troops into a town centre and a hospital at the risk of killing civilians?”
BM 29 July 1994: Afghanistan, increased bombing on Kabul: “many civilians have been killed.”
BM 31 Mar. 1995: Chechnya: “We are trying to communicate the message that there are persistent violations of the Geneva Conventions, since civilians are being targeted and denied assistance.”
AR 1994-95: “We are currently intervening in ten or so crises in which civilian populations, their property and the land on which they live, constitute both the stake and the deliberate target of the fighting.”
BM 9 June1995: Chechnya, bombardments: “It is impossible to be with civilian populations.”
BM 23 Feb. 1996: Liberia: “The ECOMOG deployment is improving security, for there arefewer atrocities being inflicted on civilians.”
BM 29 Mar. 1996: Chechnya: plan for a press conference to “draw the attention of journalists to Chechnya and enable us to explain our view of the problem – the murders and other serious violations involving civilians”.
BM 31 May 1996: Liberia (following the pillaging of NGOs): “The decision has been taken to talk about victims rather than the ‘colossal damage’ (not for civilian protection but for the safety of the teams)
BM 6 Sept. 1996: Burundi: “Two armed forces clash regularly and are guilty of inflictingatrocities on civilians.”
BM 24 Jan. 1997: Zaire: “Accounts … of systematic massacres of civilians.”
AR 1996-97: “The more values and fundamental moral markers devised to spare and protect civilian populations are scorned, the more exposed humanitarian workers become.” Great Lakes: “These massive acts of violence are directed at civilian populations (indiscriminately or intentionally).”
BM 19 Dec. 1997: Zaire: “It is impossible to reach civilian populations, which are paying a very heavy price.”
BM 25 Sept. 1998: “In Kosovo, the Serbs are waging a war against the civilian population.”
AR 1998-99: Epidemiological study of the violence: “This study shows how civilians, whether unarmed, women, children or elderly, are considered parties to the conflict, spies or enemies.” Sierra Leone, MSF ‘driven out’ of the country: “In fact, it was due as always to the desire to get rid of potentially troublesome witnesses, as combats give atrocities on civilian populations more than their due.” Congo-B: “The region is still plagued by the Ninjas’ and Cobras’ war game with real atrocities inflicted civilian populations.”
BM 25 June 1999: Kosovo: “The NATO has arrived but cannot really protect civilians … A (foreign) army is not necessarily effective in protecting people from civil insecurity.”
BM 29 Oct. 1999: Chechnya: “Now we are at war … massive and indiscriminate bombing of civilian populations, total blockade …”
BM 19 Nov. 1999: Chechnya: “We have decided to write to every head of state attending the OSCE summit in Istanbul to express our indignation, our outrage and our desire that civilian populations be respected.”
BM 17 Dec. 1999: Sri Lanka: “During this war, we saw indiscriminate attacks on civilian populations, the enforced displacement of populations, the use of civilians as shields …” Chechnya: accounts collected from refugees “show that the civilian population is being ruthlessly hunted down”. Nobel presentation: MSF members wore T-shirts emblazoned with the word ‘Grozny’ “to protest against the shelling of civilian populations in Grozny”.
AR 1999-2000: Chechnya: “Tens of thousands of defenceless civilians were subjected to a barrage of fire.”
BM 2 Mar. 2001: West Africa: “I note once again that every time it comes down to actually
protecting civilians, the great international mobilisation produces nothing.”
BM 30 Mar. 2001: Srebrenica: “Why did they leave the evacuation of civilians to the Serbian army?”
BM 27 Apr. 2001: Palestine: “It is a case of open war in an urban area, with a large civilian population in the middle.”
BM 8 June 2001: Neutrality: “Denouncing or condemning what armies and militias do to the civilian population … does not mean siding with a belligerent.”
AR 2000-2001: “The joint military intervention conducted by the United Nations, ECOWAS and the UK is providing little protection for Sierra Leonean civilians.” Chechnya: “This violent campaign of civilian repression is mostly conducted behind closed doors.”
BM 28 Sept. 2001: Afghanistan: “Even though the victim changed camp [the victim nowbeing the USA], we have to consider the possibility that the vice might tighten and create more civilian victims in Afghanistan … It is clear that our sole objective is to go back to working with Afghan civilians.”
BM 30 Nov. 2001: Afghanistan: question from the Board: “What is the situation concerning wounded civilians?”
BM Dec. 2001: Afghanistan: J-H Bradol’s article on the US army’s method of intervention questions “the consequences of intervention for the civilian population” of Tora Bora. Congo-B: “54% of the rapes are committed by civilians”.
BM 22 Feb. 2002: Liberia: “We’ve had very few wounded civilians.”
BM 26 Apr. 2002: Palestine: J-H Bradol meets the authorities “to ask them to stop shooting civilians …”
AR 2001-02: Afghanistan (ration drops): “We don’t deny states their legitimacy to assist civilians.”
BM 28 June 2002: Chechnya: “Our teams are still collecting the same stories of violence against civilians.”
BM 24 Apr. 2003: West Africa: main issues “1) Civilian protection: … the duty of parties to the conflict to respect civilian populations and aid workers” ; the need to control aid in order to “ensure that relief does not contribute to the exploitation of civilians by amassing them on certain sites … Transit sites, reception centres and accommodation which are dangerous for civilians … We note the lack of initiatives and means to reduce the level of conflicts and protect civilians.” Iraq: “There has been violence directed at civilians.”
AR 2002-03: “Our role in time of war … review and comment on civilian needs; protest against the misuse of the humanitarian label …”
BM 29 Aug. 2003: DRC: “Certain militia groups have been systematically massacring civilians in towns and villages …”
BM 31 Oct. 2003: Iraq, on the press release draft: “It seems to me that we could remove the adjective ‘innocent’ before the word ‘civilians’.”
BM 27 Feb. 2004: Darfur: “Extreme violence against civilian populations … an improvement is foreseeable only if the level of violence against civilians decreases …”
AR 2003-04: “Concerning Iraq, we don’t seem to be saying much about the violence inflicted on non-combatants, i.e. civilians, captured or wounded soldiers, the violence inflicted by the US-led coalition.” On calls for protection: “Why should we imagine, given the complexity of the situation, that it is feasible for foreign troops to turn up and immediately resolve, as if by a miracle, any problem of violence, any problem of access to aid for civilian populations…?”
BM 25 June 2004: Darfur: “Militias continue to subject civilian populations to massive violence.”
BM 3 Sept. 2004: DRC, Katanga: “The violence against civilians has not stopped since the end of the war … violent behaviours against the civilian population continue.”
BM 26 Nov. 2004: Ivory Coast: “Eighty-four admissions, two-thirds of them soldiers; the rest are civilians injured during the many discharges of machine guns.”
BM 1 Apr. 2005: Congo-Brazaville, closure of the mission: “The population had changed and was no longer linked to a ‘war against civilians’.”
AR 2004-2005: Darfur: “Our colleagues in Brussels had collected … a great deal of information on the violence inflicted on civilians …”
BM 2 Sept. 2005: Public statement (Haiti): “MSF calls on all armed parties to respect the security of civilians.”
BM 27 Jan. 2006: Darfur: “The number of wounded civilians is rising …”
BM 27 Oct. 2006: Sri Lanka: “Violence against civilians and humanitarian workers; blocking of aid.”
BM 26 Jan. 2007: CAR: “Civil guards are inflicting violence on the civilian population … A public statement on the violence directed at civilians will also follow as our humanitarian space diminishes.”