Speaking Out Case Studies

This collection: "Case Studies: Médecins Sans Frontières Speaks Out," was created in response to the Médecins Sans Frontières International Council's desire to provide the movement with reference documents on "temoignage"/"advocacy". These documents are designed to be straightforward and accessible to all and to help volunteers understand and adopt the organisation's culture of speaking out on issues.

Famine and forced relocations in Ethiopia 1984-1986

Famine and forced relocations in Ethiopia (1984-1986)

The “Famine and Forced Relocations in Ethiopia 1984-1986” case study is describing the difficulties and dilemmas met by MSF during the famine that decimated the Ethiopian population in 1984-1985. This famine triggered an unprecedented humanitarian mobilisation and huge media attention. But the Ethiopian regime at the time also used the international aid as a bait to attract the populations and forcibly resettle them in appalling conditions. In this context: what should have been done when it appeared that aid was being used against the population for whom it was intended?

Somalia 1991-1993: Civil War, Famine Alert and a UN “Military-Humanitarian” Intervention

Somalia 1991-1993

The ‘Somalia 1991-1993: Civil War, Famine Alert and a UN “Military-Humanitarian” Intervention‘ case study is describing the difficulties and dilemmas met by MSF during the first years that it was committed to helping the Somali people, after the civil war started in 1991: Should MSF employ armed guards? As the quasi-only source of information in the field, how far could MSF go in releasing information without favouring one party to the conflict or another? How to draw attention on the famine in Somalia, when all cameras were focused on the Gulf War?

The violence of the new Rwandan regime 1994-1995

The violence of the new Rwandan regime 1994-1995

The ‘Violence of the new Rwandan regime’ case study is describing the difficulties and dilemmas that Médecins Sans Frontières faced in 1994 and 1995 when confronted with the abuses and crimes of the new regime that had taken over in Rwanda in July 1994: Was it acceptable for MSF, having denounced the génocidaires’control over the Rwandan refugees in Zaire and Tanzania, to encourage the return of these refugees to Rwanda, given the insecurity that potentially awaited them? Did MSF have a responsibility to alert them to what was occurring in Rwanda?

MSF and North Korea 1995-1998

MSF and North Korea

The ‘MSF in North Korea 1995-1998’ case study is describing the constraints and dilemmas that lead MSF to speak out publicly while its teams were trying to bring assistance to the North Korean population on its territory between 1995 and 1998 and to the North Korean refugees in Asia in the following years: Until which limit, could MSF, in order to draw closer to a population in distress, accept to work without being able to apply the basic principles of humanitarian action: access to populations, free evaluation of needs and supervision of the destination of our assistance?

Violence against Kosovar Albanians, NATO's intervention 1998-1999

Violence against Kosovar Albanians, NATO's intervention 1998-1999

The ‘Violence against Kosovar Albanians NATO’s intervention 1998-1999’ case study describes the constraints and dilemmas facing Médecins Sans Frontières teams that witnessed a process of terror and expulsion which they described as the ‘deportation’ of Kosovar Albanians by Serb forces. It also described MSF’s reaction to NATO aerial bombings and the control exercised over the refugee camps by this party to the conflict. Should MSF denounce the violence being committed against Kosovars at the risk of being excluded from access to these people and of encouraging the NATO intervention?

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