Category Archives: Perspectives (VEN)

The invention of impartiality: the history of a humanitarian principle, from a legal, strategic and algorithmic perspective

Joint publication by Humanitarian Alternatives and the Centre for Reflection on Humanitarian Action and Knowledge (CRASH) / Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)

J. Glasman

Joël Glasman Historian and professor at the University of Bayreuth (Germany)

The principle of impartiality, which is often reduced to a principle of mathematical distribution, was originally coined by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), at that time on a quest for legitimacy. However, reducing impartiality to a resource distribution algorithm strengthens the overarching position held by non-territorial organisations. This is the theory put forward by the author in his latest book. 
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Changes in our environment and epidemics are linked to human activity

J.-F. Mattei

Entretien avec Jean-François Mattei • président de l’Académie nationale de médecine, ancien président de la Croix-Rouge française, membre de l’Institut de France (Académie des sciences morales et politiques), ancien ministre de la Santé

The global health crisis caused by the coronavirus epidemic has confirmed that most modern epidemics are caused by cross-species virus transmission between wildlife and humans. According to Jean-François Mattei, since epidemics are the result of the imbalance caused by humankind to ecosystems which had been preserved until now, there is an urgent need to consider the environment and human health as being inextricably linked. Read the article

Haiti: understanding
 the underwhelming appraisal of the international humanitarian efforts

D. Alalouf-Hall

F. Audet

Diane Alalouf-Hall • Doctorante et chercheure à l’Observatoire canadien sur les crises et l’action humanitaires (OCCAH)

François Audet • Directeur scientifique de l’OCCAH et professeur à l’Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM)

Ten years after the earthquake that devastated “the Pearl of the West Indies”, which has become the “NGO Republic” according to some, the authors give us an opportunity to remember, quite simply. But also, and perhaps above all, not to forget the necessary critical analysis of international aid that remains to be done. Read the article

“1919 was ‘year zero’ for internationalism”

Interview with Jeremy Adelman • Professor of History, Princeton University

J. Adelman

In October  2018, the workshop “Humanitarian Photojournalism: A History of the Present” was organised at Princeton University. The main goal of this event was to think about “the connections between the rising importance of photojournalism and the rise of global humanitarianism”. One of the workshop’s organisers, the Global Historian Jeremy Adelman, granted us an interview. Read the article

Médecins Sans Frontières-France: tensions arising from the “Migration” projects

Michaël Neuman • Directeur d’études, Centre de réflexion sur l’action et les savoirs humanitaires (Crash)/Médecins Sans Frontières

M. Neuman

Can Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) be first responder, advisor and activist, all at the same time? While the organisation has never seemed to be on the front line with regards the effects of the “migration crisis”, the question is still being asked internally, particularly in the French section. All credit to Michaël Neuman – and his role at the Centre de Réflexion sur l’Action et les Savoirs Humanitaires (CRASH) – for leading this discussion. 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.
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“The portrayal of humanitarianism has, to say the least, dramatically changed in 50 years”

Entretien avec Pierre Micheletti et Bruno-Georges David

B.-G. David

P. Micheletti

From pictures of famished children in Biafra to those of victims of the Sulawesi tsunami, have portrayals of humanitarianism changed very much? Above all, do these images help capture the reality of humanitarian action in people’s minds or do they only camouflage it to better “sell” a cause? These are questions that we asked both Pierre Micheletti and Bruno-Georges David to better understand the constraints and drifts of communication in humanitarianism. Read the article

Haiti: tensions between aid relief and development in the health sector

Nicolas Lemay-Hébert • Senior Lecturer in the International Development Department, University of Birmingham (UK)

Andréanne Martel • Collaborative Research Program Officer at the Canadian Council for International Co-operation (CCIC) in Ottawa (Canada)

Patrick Robitaille • Associate expert of the Canadian Research Institute on Humanitarian Crisis and Aid

N. Lemay-Hébert

A. Martel

P. Robitaille

Since 2010 and the surge of aid on Haiti, the Caribbean island has undoubtedly become the symbol of the failure of major international programmes. For the three authors the emergency and development actors’ conflicting objectives are one of the keys to this failure.

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Humanitarians in the age of counter terrorism: rejected by rebels, co-opted by States

Michiel Hofman • Médecins Sans Frontières

M. Hofman

Because rhetoric – and practice – of the fight against terrorism drives rebel movements to the edges of International Humanitarian Law, NGOs would be more and more under the influence of States. The analysis developed by Michiel Hofman is based on concrete examples permitting us to be quite often – so to speak – in the midst of humanitarian negotiations.

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The Rohingya refugee crisis: forgotten then, forgotten now

Tarik Kadir • Secours Islamique France

T. Kadir

Lifted with difficulty to the category of major crisis, the situation of the Rohingya refugees at the border of Myanmar and Bangladesh is forever bogging down. Whilst the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, has declared that “this seemed to be a classical example of ethnic cleansing”, Western chanceries are hesitating, hindered by the ambiguous position of Aung San Suu Kyi, Nobel Peace Prize winner. Tarik Kadir, engaged in the field alongside Secours Islamique France, explains to us the situation, its origins and its perspectives.

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