Promotion de la santé à Boga, en république démocratique du Congo

Legal or humanitarian testimony ? History of MFS’s interactions with investigations and judicial proceedings


Representative to the United Nations, Médecins Sans Frontières

Lawyer specialized in International Humanitarian Law, Fabien Dubuet has worked for MSF since 1999.

Date de publication

The document analyses and describes the different initiatives, experiences and positions that MSF has had with regard to international investigations and judicial proceedings. The creation of international criminal tribunals and the International Criminal Court are a step forward and perhaps even a revolution for victims of mass crimes: genocide, crime against humanity and war crimes. They have also transformed the context of humanitarian action, which by nature takes place amidst violence, near and alongside not only victims but also armed actors.

Between humanitarian témoignage that consists in sounding the alert on situations of violence and danger, and judicial témoignage that consists in participating in establishing the criminal responsibility of an individual in front of a court, this document tries to define, outline and differentiate the forms and contents of the responsibilities of humanitarian organisations towards victims and towards the courts. Contrary to common belief, humanitarian organisations are not obliged to cooperate with international tribunals. But do they want to decide to deny themselves this choice? It is important to at least avoid that the functioning of international justice limit the access of aid organisations to victims or that it increase security risks for humanitarian personnel in the field.

To cite this content :
Françoise Bouchet-Saulnier, Fabien Dubuet, Legal or humanitarian testimony ? History of MFS’s interactions with investigations and judicial proceedings, 27 avril 2007, URL :

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