While military intervention in Iraq was being planned, humanitarian organizations were offered US government funds to join the Coalition and operate under the umbrella of "Operation Iraqi Freedom". In Kosavo, Timor, Sierra Leone and Afghanistan, NGOs had previously been asked to join in "just" wars. Indeed many aid agencies cooperated eagerly, subordinating their specific aims to the greater goal of "peace, democracy and human rights". Few Afghans or Sierra Leoneans regret the interventions. However, the inconvenient victims of these triumphs, those from the "wrong" side, are quickly forgotten. These are individuals whom humanitarian organizations have the duty to save, yet in doing so they must remain independent of the warring parties, and refrain from joining in the "struggle against evil" or any other political agenda. Then there are places where the pretence of providing assistance allows donor governments to disguise their backing of local political powers. Lastly there are those whose sacrifice is politically irrelevant in the wider scope of international relations.
In circumstances such as these, what little international aid is available collides head-on with the mutal desire of the adversaries to wage "total" war that may lead to the extermination of entire populations. In this book, international experts and members of the MSF analyse the way these issues have crystallized over the five years spanning the end of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st. The authors make the case for a renewed commitment to an old idea: a humanitarianism that defies the politics of sacrifice.
Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders) is the world's largest independant for emergency medical aid, and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1999. Fabrice Weissman, research director of the MSF Foundation, is the author of many works on humanitarian aid and the political economy of conflict.
Contents; Introduction; SITUATIONS Abstention Chechnya: Eradication of the enemy within - Thornike Gordadze; Democratic Republic of Congo: Victims of no importance - Marc Le Pape; Colombia: Violence versus politics - Michel Agier; Algeria: The utility of terrorism - Chawki Amari; Involvement North Korea: Feeding totalitarianism - Fiona Terry; Angola: Woe to the vanquished - Christine Messiant; Sudan: Who benefits from humanitarian aid? - Marc Lavergne and Fabrice Weissman; Intervention East Timor: Better late than never - Gil Gonzalez-Foerster; Sierra Leone: Peace at any price - Fabrice Weissman; Liberia: The logic of orchestrated chaos - Jean-Herve Jezequel; Afghanistan: From 'militant-monks' to Crusaders - Francois Calas and Pierre Salignon; POINTS OF VIEW Iraq: In search of a 'humanitarian crisis' - Rony Brauman and Pierre Salignon; Kosovo: The end of an era? - David Rieff; Humanitarian Spaces: spaces of exception - Michel Agier and Francoise Boucher-Saulinier; Justice and Humanitarian Action: a conflict of interest - E. DACHY; The Modern Missionaries of Islam - A. R. GHANDOUR; Of Medicines and Men - Annick Hamel; Translated from French by Vincent HOMOLKA and Roger LEVERDIER - except chapters by RIEFF and TERRY; English version edited by Fiona TERRY.