Challenging the idea that humanitarian actors can act free from politics by virtue of their principles, this chapter argues that the politicization of humanitarian aid is in fact the primary condition for its deployment. Humanitarian actors can only act if they maintain a balance between their own interests and those of people in positions of power. This raises a crucial ethical question: At what point do humanitarian organisations consider that deals reached with political powers cross the blurred but very real line beyond which humanitarian assistance does more harm than good?Read more
Humanitarian actors and practices
On September 14th, 2023, the Journal of Humanitarian Affairs, the academic journal in open access, hosted jointly by the Crash, The Humanitarian Affairs Team at Save the Children UK (HAT) and the Humanitarian and Conflict Response Institute at the University of Manchester (HCRI), has published a new issue entitled “Humanitarian numbers”. The latter focuses on the technical aspect of numbers, dealing with two main questions: What datafication means? How well does the quantitative represent reality?
This interview by Didier Billion and Marc Verzeroli was originally published in the Revue internationale et stratégique. To examine the concept of de-westernization, Rony Brauman describes the current state of international relations, marked by fluid alliances and new power relationships. He states and details his reservations about whether universal values truly exist and how the international criminal justice system functions.Read more
Historicising Humanitarian Action. Synchronicity in Historical Research and Archiving Humanitarian Missions06/30/2023
The central question raised in this discussion relates to two profoundly intermeshed issues for humanitarian practitioners and organisations: the use of history for humanitarian organisations, and the need for them to preserve and maintain archives
This article was published on March 27th, 2023 in the journal Alternatives Humanitaires, in an edition focused on mental health.
Listen to the MSF Speaking Out podcast: “The Hunting and Killing of Rwandan refugees in Zaire-Congo 1996-1997”.01/05/2023
MSF releases the podcast “MSF Speaking Out: The Hunting and Killing of Rwandan refugees in Zaire-Congo 1996-1997” describing the dilemmas, challenges and controversies faced by the MSF teams including: could MSF communicate publicly on the health condition of the refugees when its access to them had recently been denied? When it realised its teams were being used to lure and kill refugees, should the organisation cease its activities and condemn this manipulation?
This article was published on December 26th, 2022 on the Souk, the MSF associative website.
Accusing the mothers of malnourished children of being lawless fraudsters is a well-worn trope in malnutrition treatment programmes worldwide – and one that has resurfaced recently in Nigeria, stirred up by health workers and the media. These types of accusations obscure a series of tricky truths on the control of resources, the quality of malnutrition treatment programmes, and on the extreme precariousness in which many families live. We see all of this in northwest Nigeria’s Katsina state, where we are currently conducting the largest malnutrition programme in the history of Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF).
The Swiss editor Georg just published in open access a collection of articles edited by Sébastien Farré, Jean-François Fayet and Bertrand Taithe. This book is devoted to the emergence of humanitarian exhibitions either within wider events or in their own right, as an attempt to focus attention and make sense of the aid humanitarians provided. The book argues that this exhibition process was central to the narration of the humanitarian project. It did not simply represent humanitarian work, it helped shape its essential identity and sense of purpose. Entail the development of new ways of thinking about needs and emergencies.
Based on the example of the hospital in Moïssala, Chad, the two authors reflect on the management of pain in children at Médecins Sans Frontières. This article was first published on March 25th 2022 in the journal Alternatives Humanitaires.
Reconstructing Lives: Victims of war in the Middle East and Médecins Sans Frontières was published in January 2022 by Manchester University Press. The book is the result of extensive fieldwork, in collaboration with the Crash. It is fully available on our website.
MSF releases in English, French and in Arabic the “MSF Speaking Out: Srebrenica” podcast based on the original MSF Speaking Out Case Study (SOCS) “MSF in Srebrenica, 1993 – 2003”.
This article was first released in the 18th volume of the Humanitarian Alternatives magazine. Designed to reduce the incidence of HIV/AIDS in a Kenyan district, a Médecins Sans Frontières project successfully exceeded the “90-90-90” target set by UNAIDS. A look back on the results that the authors of this article - Pierre Mendiharat, Deputy director of operations at MSF France and Léon Salumu Luzinga, Program manager at MSF France, interviewed by Elba Rahmouni - believe are encouraging but by no means a guarantee that the epidemic will be over by 2030.