Category Archives: 1968-2018: Breakdown and continuity

Humanitarian implications of a re-assertion of State sovereignty


Duncan Mclean • Researcher, Médecins Sans Frontières

D. Mclean

Whilst there is indeed a trend towards the strengthening of State sovereignty, this concept is more multifaceted and ambivalent than it might appear. The author invites us to take stock of its developments, its complexity and the implications for humanitarian work. Read the article

The endless restructuring of the humanitarian sector : an inappropriate search for performance ?

Perrine Laissus-Benoist • Clersé-Lille 1-CNRS

P. Laissus-Benoist

A refrain constantly heard in the process of professionalisation, the call to restructure the world of humanitarian intervention often takes the form of a reformating based on the principles of neoliberal dogma. According to the author, this quest for performance is ill-suited to the complexity of humanitarian action and poorly serves the populations concerned. Read the article

Aid workers and the uprooted: chronic of a parallel evolution

François Grünewald • Directeur général et scientifique du Groupe URD (Urgence-Réhabilitation-Développement)

F. Grünewald

The issue of population movement didn’t start with the Mediterranean refugee saga. And it only became a “migrant crisis” when the concurrence of conflicts, natural disasters and poverty encountered the incompetence of western nations. In this historical and semantic analysis, François Grünewald reminds us that, since they first existed, aid workers have always provided assistance to “the wretched of the earth”. Read the article

Sovereignty as responsibility in East Asia’s response to crises

Oscar A.Gómez • Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University

O. A. Gómez

Though aspects of Oscar Gómez’s article resonate with Duncan Mclean’s opening article, one is not a reflection of the other. The former has the merit of shifting the gaze on this concept to show us how it has evolved over the past fifty years, in East and Southeast Asia. Read the article

The “hybridisation of humanitarianism”: ordinary citizens in French migrant camps

Marjorie Gerbier-Aublanc • Docteure en sociologie

M. Gerbier-Aublanc

In 1968, French doctors decided to travel to Biafra to help the Igbo people. Later, they supported migrants in the South China Sea and elsewhere. Now, working alongside NGOs, ordinary citizens scandalised by the treatment of migrants are mobilising here in France in response to this crisis. In doing so, they are inventing a new way of engaging in humanitarian action. Read the article

Biafra: at the heart of postcolonial humanitarian ambiguities

Marie-Luce Desgrandchamps • Historienne, université de Manchester et université de Genève

M. L. Desgrandchamps

In short, this is where it all began: history and legend, ambiguities and dilemmas, principles and their limits. Drawing on her recent book on Biafra, Marie-Luce Desgrandchamps looks back at what took place in Nigeria fifty years ago. Pierre Micheletti and Bruno-Georges David then discuss how images and representations of humanitarian work have evolved over half a century.
Read the article