A collective adventure

Humanitarian Alternatives is a fundamentally collective adventure, since the review was co-founded by Jean-François Mattei, Benoît Miribel, Jean-Baptiste Richardier and Jean-Christophe Rufin, before involving other partners in its wake.

The seeds of the initiative were first sown in September 2013, during the fourth Forum Espace Humanitaire (FEH) organised at Pensières in Veyrier-du-Lac, during the course of which it was admitted that the voice of francophone humanitarian organisations was becoming increasingly less audible in international debates. How, then, to contribute to debates on humanitarian issues in a format which would be accessible to everyone, in English and in French? How to develop analysis and reflections between humanitarian and research actors, to be able to offer alternative methods of humanitarian intervention?

In order to validate the relevance of such a project, a census carried out by the Red Cross Fund under the supervision of Professor Jean-François Mateit enabled us to identify the different existing publications on international humanitarian action. As a result of this analysis, Benoît Miribel suggested a collective approach in order to bring together the capacities of different foundations which were interested in this issue. He organised a first meeting in March 2014 in Paris, to gauge the interest in launching a bilingual review to create a link between field and academic actors, to contribute to the development of a systemic approach to humanitarian action. Jean-Christophe Rufin lent his support to the initiative from the very first meeting, and Jean-Baptiste Richardier was able to involve the Fondation Handicap International soon afterwards. A working group was progressively put in place and two years later, in February 2016, the Humanitarian Alternatives review published its first issue on the humanitarian consequences of the Ebola health crisis.

The review, which benefited from the experience of Boris Martin as editor-in-chief since its beginnings, also boasts an editorial board that is independent from the governing bodies. Its director of publication is Bernard Michel, and Audrey Sala ensures the coordination with the different involved parties. The review also has an Advisory Committee, a Scientific Board and a Board of Partners.

Launched firstly by the Mérieux Foundation, the French Red Cross Foundation, the Fondation Handicap International (now Institut HI pour l’Action Humanitaire) and the Action Contre la Faim Foundation, Humanitarian Alternatives currently enjoys the support of a dozen foundations, who contribute to the annual funding sum of 15 000 euros ( la Fondation Action Contre la Faim • la Fondation Bullukian • la Fondation de Recherche Caritas • la Fondation Croix-Rouge française • la Fondation de France • HI Institute for Humanitarian Action • la Fondation Mérieux • la Fondation Roi Baudouin • La Fondation OVE • le Gouvernement princier de Monaco/ Direction de la coopération internationale).

Keen to strengthen the links between research and humanitarian action, a number of universities, training centres, and research institutions regularly join the review in order to expand its network and contribute to the joint advance of knowledge, reflection and action.

Photo – © Alternatives Humanitaires

from left to right:  Bruno David, Bori Martin, Virginie Troit, Serge Breysse, Jean-Christophe Rufin, Francis Charhon, Romain de Vries, Jean-Marc Boivin, Jean-Baptiste Richardier

First row: Benoît Miribel, Bernard Michel