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Journal of International Development

J[ Int[ Dev[ 01\ 714731 "1999#

Copyright 1999 John Wiley + Sons\ Ltd[
Dcvclopncni Siuaics Insiiiuic\ 1onaon School of Econonics\ 1onaon\ UK
Birkbcck Collcgc\ 1onaon\ UK
Abstract] This paper examines French in~uence on humanitarian intervention\ and in
particular focuses on the role of Bernard Kouchner and the promotion of international
interference within sovereign states[ It is argued that the English language literature on
humanitarianism has tended to overlook or downplay the importance of Kouchner|s
activities\ which in fact have far!reaching implications[ The origins of Kouchner|s notion
of a legal obligation to interfere are traced back to the Biafra war\ and to _erce debates
about {third!worldism| in Paris[ It is pointed out how key UN General Assembly and
Security Council Resolutions re~ect Kouchner|s impact\ and how he is ascribing his
ideas to the UN system as a whole in his current position as head of the UN Mission
on Kosovo[ Copyright 1999 John Wiley + Sons\ Ltd[
It was a French idea [ [ [ We came\ crossing the border [ [ [ The appeal must not
come from the government\ but the voice of the victims [ [ [ The right to interfere
has now been written into 049 resolutions of the United Nations[ Victims are
now the category of international law[ So we succeeded [ [ [ This is the revolution
[ [ [ The victim\ not the government\ speaking in the name of the victim*for the
_rst time [ [ [ We are coming back to |57[ We want to change the world[ We want
no more Auschwitz\ no more Cambodia\ no more Rwanda\ no more Biafra[
"Bernard Kouchner\ compilation of statements from a taped interview*in Engl!
ish*with Tim Allen\ April 0888#
The last two decades of the twentieth century witnessed a shift towards increased
interventionism in the name of humanitarianism[ Since 0877\ the UN has launched
more Blue Helmet operations than during the previous 32 years\ while the percentage
of ODA allocated to emergencies rose from around 1 per cent in 0889 to a peak of 7
per cent in 0883[ During these years there was also intense news media coverage of
Correspondence to] Tim Allen\ DESTIN\ LSE\ Houghton Street\ London\ WC1A 1AE\ UK[ E!mail]
715 T. Hllcn ana D. Siyan
Copyright 1999 John Wiley + Sons\ Ltd[ 1. Ini. Dcv. 01\ 714731 "1999#
particular places\ which utilized new technologies for {real time| reporting[ A result
was considerable public interest and concern in industrialized countries\ and also
widespread awareness of several spectacular failures[
These developments have far reaching rami_cations and\ not surprisingly\ have
been the subject of a great deal of interest by development analysts and practitioners
alike[ However\ a curious omission in much of the English language discussion of this
{new humanitarianism| is the signi_cance of French ideas and in~uence[ In particular
there has been little interest in the controversy provoked by the activities of Bernard
Kouchner\ the man who claims to have invented the whole approach[ Our purpose
here is to help redress the balance[
We begin by introducing ideas about humanitarian intervention\ and drawattention
to important ambiguities of conception[ We then go on to review brie~y the evolution
of humanitarian policy from the late 0859s as it is generally perceived in the English
language literature[ Such writings often recognize the role of French medical NGOs
such as Mc'accins Sans Froniic`rcs\ but rarely attempt to understand the speci_c French
national context in which they evolved[ The paper then traces the roots of debates
about lc aroii aingc'rcncc in the changing intellectual and political environment within
France from the mid!seventies onwards[ It charts the construction and critiques of
iicrsnonaisic ideas among French media\ NGOs and policy makers\ particularly
during the 0879s[ It also highlights the contradiction between the idea of humanitarian
ingc'rcncc and France|s established African policy of military support for allies\ and
comments on the impact of the idea of ingc'rcncc abroad[
Despite the heavily personalized\ apparently insular\ indeed incestuous\ nature of
much Parisian intellectual debate which underpinned the idea of lc aroii aingc'rcncc\
our argument here is that outsiders should not dismiss French discourse about
humanitarian intervention as irrelevant to the actions of other powerful states[ It is
clear that governments\ including the French government\ remain keen to resist
implications of a legalized international humanitarian duty[ Nevertheless\ those who
wish to promote such laws\ and who wish to hold those who do not act to account\
seem to have more room to manoeuvre than might be expected\ given the debacles of
international humanitarianism in Somalia\ former Yugoslavia and Rwanda[
In a public lecture on {The Evolution of Foreign Aid| delivered in 0860\ the in~uential
West Indian economist\ W[ Arthur Lewis\ took it for granted that no policy con!
ditionality could be imposed by donors\ because recipient countries would not be
willing to accept interference in their internal a}airs "Ra}er and Singer\ 0885\ p[ 044#[
This seems remarkable nowadays[ Of course a certain amount of conditionality had
always been present[ The United States and its allies regarded development assistance
as\ at least in part\ a means of discouraging the spread of communism[ Nevertheless\
Lewis| assumption highlights the fact that the most remarkable shift that occurred in
development practice during the last decades of the 19th century was the tendency to
deliberately and openly set aside sovereignty[ The shift has had several aspects\
including the structural adjustment programmes of the 0879s and the emphasis on
{good governance| following the ending of cold war alliances[ It has also been associ!
ated with a new kind of humanitarianism\ one that has asserted a right to intervene\
Copyright 1999 John Wiley + Sons\ Ltd[ 1. Ini. Dcv. 01\ 714731 "1999#
Kouchncr ana ihc Ncw Hunaniiarianisn 716
even where that intervention might be resisted[ Arguably\ this has been the most
important development of all\ because it is not just that aid donors have required
conditions from recipients\ but that states a}ected by so called {complex emergencies|
have willingly or unwillingly participated in formal agreements\ which imply the
acceptance of general principles[ For some\ the plethora of UN resolutions at the end
of the 19th century have provided a newframework for international law\ a framework
which suggests obligations\ not just for the governments of a/icted areas\ but for
rich countries and multilateral organizations too[
It could be argued that such obligations have been around for some time[ In theory\
since the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 0837 a generally
applicable humanitarian code has been available\ which various other conventions\
such as those on genocide and on the rights of the child\ have elaborated and speci_ed[
Writing in the 0879s\ Antonio Cassese could assert that]
We now have parameters for action\ available to states and individuals] the
international rules on human rights impose modes of behaviour by requiring
governments to act in a certain way\ and at the same time legitimize the com!
plaints of individuals if those rights and freedoms are not respected "Cassese\
0889\ p[ 1#
Yet\ in spite of all the assertions about {rights!based| development by a wide range
of aid organisations "including DFID#\ the notion that humanitarian obligations
might actually a}ect donors of assistance\ as well as its recipients\ seems to have
come as something of a surprise\ at least in the English!speaking world[ Indeed\ the
fundamental contradictions and ambiguities of the idea and the practice of human!
tarian intervention have often been ignored[
In what might be referred to as its {proper legal sense|\ humanitarian intervention
has traditionally been understood as]
[ [ [ referring only to coercive action taken by states\ at their initiative\ and
involving the use of armed force\ for the purpose of preventing or putting a halt
to serious and wide!scale violations of human rights\ in particular the right to
life\ inside the territory of another state "Verwey\ 0887\ p[ 079#
In this sense\ humanitarian intervention has inevitably been highly controversial in
the United Nations era\ because it relates to the tension between state sovereignty
and human rights\ both of which are safeguarded in the Charter[ It was something
almost entirely avoided during the Cold War period\ although it was sometimes
possible for the UN to support the less problematic strategy of {enforcement action
for humanitarian purposes| through peace!keeping operations[ However\ discussion
of humanitarian intervention is by no means always limited to this legalistic usage[
Even within the UN system\ it has often been used to refer to almost any kind of
international action\ including that by NGOs\ to provide assistance in emergency
situations[ Here it is associated primarily with the giving out of relief items\ such as
food\ and not the deployment of troops[ The confusion explains why\ for example\
UN o.cials have occasionally taken pains to assert that Security Council actions
should not be considered as humanitarian interventions\ even though several Security
Council Resolutions have explicitly supported the activities of international humani!
tarian organisations[ Some lawyers have been much exercised by this problem\ but
most English language commentators assume readers will have a general under!
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standing of what {humanitarian| and {intervention| mean\ and discuss a wide range
of things\ from food relief by Oxfam to peace enforcement by the US army[
A similar con~ation has occurred in France too[ But here the tensions between
relief aid\ human rights\ sovereignty and coercive action have been much harder to
set aside[ They are in fact immediately apparent when these ideas are discussed in
French*which\ it is worth bearing in mind\ is still the other o.cial language of
international relations[ In French\ the phrase used for the right to intervene is lc aroii
aingc'rcncc[ This carries both the connotations of {a right to intervene| and {a right to
Moreover\ the word aroii additionally means {law|[ Thus the phrase could be
translated from French into English as {a law to interfere|[ Another phrase has also
been frequently used in France] lc acvoir aingc'rcncc[ This might be translated as {a
duty "or a moral obligation# to interfere:intervene|[ In English\ the idea of {a duty|
carries greater weight than the idea of {a right|[
But\ in French the emphasis is the
other way around\ and the signi_cance of the use of the term lc aroii aingc'rcncc by
key political actors has not been lost on the French public[
This fact helps explain why the French media\ French aid agencies\ and the French
government have sometimes taken a rather di}erent view of events than counterparts
in\ for example\ the US and the UK[ It throws light too on the reasons why the
Francophone Secretary General of the UN\ Boutros Boutros Gali\ seemed to be so
at odds with the US "and the UK# in the mid 0889s[ Yet\ outside of France\ the
considerable attention that has been focused on humanitarianism in the late 19th
century by analysts has paid little heed to the full implications of {the right to intervene|
in the French language[ The _erce debates that have been waged amongst politicians
and Parisian intellectuals about humanitarianism have to a large extent been unique
to the French milieu[
One of the numerous astounding aspects of the December 0881 American inter!
vention in Somalia was the degree to which foreign policy makers\ pundits and the
media were stuck for words[ Both they and the English language lacked the vocabulary
to encompass the contradictory connotations of a {humanitarian invasion|[ In
addition\ an accumulated body of underlying policy and media debate\ normally
needed to publicly legitimize such a military action\ was almost entirely absent[ The
clear exception to this predicament was in the French!speaking world[ On 4 December
0881 most French newspapers entitled their editorials {1c Droii aIngc'rcncc|[ To many
francophones\ the Somali intervention appeared the logical culmination of decade!
long debates over intervention in the internal a}airs of sovereign states^ indeed French
government ministers immediately proclaimed it as such\ declaring it a milestone in
international relations[
Given such high pro_le assertions\ in many respects it is quite extraordinary how
little recognition there has been among English language analysts of the importance
of French thinking in shaping the new humanitarian agenda[ Indeed\ Bernard Kouch!
ner\ the Frenchman who claims to have invented the lc aroii aingc'rcncc\ and whose
Note that Kouchner\ speaking in English\ uses the phrase {the right to interfere| in the quotes at the start
of the paper[
Douglas Hurd\ for example\ has criticized Kouchner for suggesting that there is {not simply a right\ but
a auiy to intervene| "Hurd\ 0886\ pp[ 127128\ italic emphasis in the original#[ In fact\ Kouchner has been
making the point the other way around[ He takes a duty "acvoir# to intervene:interfere as a given\ and has
been arguing for a right "aroii# "see\ for example\ Kouchner\ 0880\ pp[ 146}#[
Copyright 1999 John Wiley + Sons\ Ltd[ 1. Ini. Dcv. 01\ 714731 "1999#
Kouchncr ana ihc Ncw Hunaniiarianisn 718
assertion is taken seriously by many in France and elsewhere\ is hardly known about
in Britain and the US[ His in~uence has occasionally been noted and discussed in
English "see\ for example\ Benthall\ 0882^ Guilot\ 0883^ Fox\ 0884^ Styan\ 0885^ Allen\
0888^ O|Hagan\ 0888#[ Nevertheless\ a recent book on humanitarian intervention by
a group of mainly British and American scholars\ which in many respects is a very
thorough survey of the topic\ makes no reference to any of Kouchner|s own pub!
lications and makes only passing reference to French humanitarianism\ without noting
its distinctiveness "Pieterse\ 0887#[ This is typical[ When one of the authors of the
present paper "Tim Allen# suggested interviewing Kouchner for a radio programme
in 0888\ no one in the BBC appeared to have heard of him[
It is not our contention here that Kouchner|s views can be taken at face value[ He
is a hugely controversial _gure in France\ and although he is passionately Fran!
cophone and is keen to assert a leading French role in global humanitarianism\ he is
often dismissed in his own country as a maverick[ It is also obvious that the policies
of the French government\ and sometimes of French NGOs\ are open to the accusation
of cynical self!interest[ They are certainly not on a higher moral plane than those of
other countries[ Nevertheless\ an understanding of how lc aroii aingc'rcncc emerged in
France\ and how French NGOs and French in~uence in the UN shaped international
responses in the 0889s\ should be an aspect of any account of contemporary humani!
tarianism[ Often it is not[
Interventionist humanitarianism is not just a post Cold War phenomenon[ Both
English and French language analysts recognize this[ The story begins in Biafra[
Although various international organizations\ notably the Red Cross movement\ have
long worked in emergency situations\ their activities have been both made possible
and constrained by agreements between states[ For the Red Cross\ this has meant
that a very strict approach has had to be taken to neutrality in war zones which\
amongst other things\ has required a high degree of con_dentiality[ Until the late
0859s\ other international agencies working in such areas did so together with\ or
under the auspices of\ the Red Cross\ and accepted these arrangements[ However\ in
Biafra some agencies felt compelled to operate independently[
Initially food supply into the Nigerian war zone was organized by the Red Cross
and UNICEF\ and supported by a range of NGOs[ An agreement had been made
with the Nigerian government to provide equal amounts of relief to both sides in the
con~ict[ But in the Spring of 0857\ the government withdrew approval for the airlift
to Biafra\ as part of an attempt to force the rebels into negotiations[ In June\ European
newspapers and television news carried harrowing stories[ It was asserted that 2999
babies were dying every day[ This placed tremendous pressure on aid agencies like
Oxfam[ They found it impossible to explain why they could do nothing[ As a result\
as Maggie Black puts it in her o.cial history of the organization\ Oxfam threw {its
caution to the winds [ [ [ There was a humanitarian tiger to ride and\ since its partners
in the business of compassion were holding back\ Oxfam would ride it alone| "Black\
0881\ p[ 011#[
By early August 0857\ the activities of Oxfam and other NGOs that chose to follow
its example had forced ICRC into re!starting its airlift without Nigerian government
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permission[ By the end of the war\ various aid agencies had ~own 6799 relief ~ights
into Biafra[
It was an extraordinary\ heroic achievement[ However it has become
widely recognized by English language analysts that it was also {an act of unfortunate
and profound folly| "Smillie\ 0884\ p[ 093# in that it prolonged the war for a year and
a half and contributed towards the deaths of some 079\999 people[ Even more
important to Biafra than the food and drugs that were ~own in was the hard currency
provided by the relief operations[ Millions of US dollars were exchanged into the
worthless Biafran currency\ or paid to the Biafran government in the form of landing
fees and other taxes[
Subsequently\ Oxfam and other aid agencies tried to avoid what they came to
regard as a mistake[ But others took a di}erent view[ One such individual was Bernard
Kouchner[ Born in 0828\ and trained as a medical doctor\ he had been active in the
student revolution in Paris in 0857[ When the barricades came down\ he had become
a disgruntled volunteer for the Red Cross in Nigeria[ He wanted to change the world\
and was profoundly shocked by his organization|s response to the situation[ In his
view\ {By keeping silent\ we doctors were accomplices in the systematic massacre of a
population| "Benthall\ 0882\ p[ 014^ Kouchner\ 0879\ 0875\ 0880^ Kouchner and
Bettati\ 0876#[
He and a group of colleagues decided to break with the ICRC policy on con!
_dentiality\ and to talk to journalists about what they had seen[ Later he claimed\
{We were using the media before it became fashionable [ [ [ We refused to allow sick
people and doctors to be massacred in silence and submission| "Benthall\ 0884\ p[
015#[ Returning to France in 0858\ Kouchner started an International Committee
against Genocide in Biafra\ and he and his friends organized three independent
missions to Biafra[ Following the Nigerian government|s victory\ members of the
groups also worked among victims of the 0869 Peruvian earthquake and with Pale!
stinians after the massacres by the Jordanian army[ Then\ in 0860\ they became
formally constituted under Kouchner|s leadership as a new kind of NGO\ calling
themselves Mc'accins Sans Froniic`rcs "MSF#[
The choice of the name MSF itself indicated an intention to set aside conventional
notions of national sovereignty\ and from its inception\ the organization was almost
exclusively concerned with the quick deployment of emergency relief to populations
judged to be in dire need\ irrespective of o.cial dictates and controls[ Instead of
always working through formal channels\ it relied heavily on the international media
to publicize its activities\ both to secure funding\ and to provide a degree of immunity
from the lobbying of hostile governments and other political interest groups[ It is
important to note in this context that\ while the operations in Biafra initiated a debate
about humanitarian intervention among scholars in the English speaking world "see
Lillich\ 0862#\ this was not the case in France\ partly because French practice recog!
nized such intervention as technically legal "Guilot\ 0883\ p[ 20#[
Outside of France\ the in~uence of the interventionist French doctors was initially
very limited[ Oxfam\ Save the Children Fund and other long established agencies
were reluctant to become drawn into further Biafra!type adventures\ and emphasized
the importance of longer!term\ grassroots development projects aimed at {empower!
ing| the poor[ However\ from the early 0879s onwards\ this began to change as NGO
Data on the Nigerian civil war is derived from a variety of sources\ all quoted in Ian Smillie "0884\ pp[
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Kouchncr ana ihc Ncw Hunaniiarianisn 720
aid activity became particularly concentrated in parts of Africa and in Afghanistan[
O.cial funding and private donations were most e}ectively secured when activities
were focused on areas in which the su}ering of the population was acute and was
being covered by the international media[ Scores of international NGOs started
running top!down operations\ aiming at rapid provision of relief\ and making a virtue
out of their emergency focused short!termism[ More and more NGOs competed for
lucrative aid contracts wherever they were on o}er[ Indeed\ some of them were
established speci_cally for this purpose[ Counter!productive con~icts between inter!
national NGOs have been well documented by English!speaking analysts for most of
the main African emergencies in the 0879s\ including those in the Sahel\ Uganda\
Sudan\ Ethiopia\ Somalia\ Zimbabwe and Mozambique "see\ for example\ Harrell!
Bond\ 0875^ Hancock\ 0878^ Hanlon\ 0880^ Keen\ 0883^ African Rights\ 0883^ Allen
and Morsink\ 0883^ Allen\ 0885\ 0888\ 1999^ de Waal\ 0886#[ In some places inter!
national NGOs\ in e}ect\ took over civil administration\ and government o.cers
became informal "and occasionally formal# employees of expatriate!run programmes[
MSF in particular has been castigated for this in Mozambique\ where the welfare
programmes of the Frelimo government were e}ectively undermined\ and replaced
by an unsustainable "US funded# vertical intervention "Joe Hanlon\ taped interview
with Tim Allen\ April 0888#[
Mozambique was also one of the countries in which international NGOs\ either
individually or as consortia\ built up expertise in the 0879s at providing humanitarian
aid in territories where _ghting was still going on\ operating across international
boundaries or in rebel controlled areas without governmental consent[ This\ of course\
built directly on the precedents set in Biafra\ and the e}ects were somewhat similar[
The willingness of international NGOs to work in war a}ected areas helped insti!
tutionalize armed con~ict\ and encouraged the emergence of local war economies\ in
which ongoing violence became part of a way of life[ As in Biafra\ populations _ghting
internal wars were supplied with food and other necessities\ while war!prone regimes
and their local allies obtained resources from aid programmes by a range of means\
from straightforward robbery to the imposition of in~ated exchange rates for foreign
currency transactions[
Nevertheless\ a pattern for international responses to internal wars had become
well established\ and before the Cold War came to an end\ the UN was already
building directly on the interventionist NGO approach[ By the mid 0879s\ it had
become generally accepted by donor countries and o.cial aid agencies that technically
illicit programmes which were run across international borders and in rebel controlled
territory were possible by contracting the work to NGOs[ In several cases this new
UN:NGO collaboration involved establishing corridors of relative peace\ from which
food\ water and relief items might be distributed and a kind of welfare safety!net
maintained[ In 0877 these arrangements were placed on a more formal footing when
the UN General Assembly passed Resolution 32:020[
This remarkable document rea.rmed the sovereignty of states\ but also recognized
that the {international community makes an important contribution to the sustenance
and protection| of victims of emergency situations\ and considered that the aban!
donment of victims without {humanitarian assistance [ [ [ constitutes a threat to life
MSF|s vertical intervention approach has also been discussed and criticised with reference to activities
northern Uganda during the late 0879s "see Allen\ 0881\ 0883#[
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and an o}ence to human dignity|[ It stressed the {important contribution| of {inter!
governmental and non!governmental organizations working with strictly humani!
tarian motives|\ and it urged states in proximity to emergency situations to facilitate
the transit of humanitarian assistance[
Here was a notion of humanitarian action in a UN document which did not seem
to have anything to do with military action to prevent atrocities[ Although it was a
General Assembly resolution\ and therefore not technically binding on UN member
states "unlike Security Council Resolutions#\ it was widely taken to mean that cross
border operations into war zones controlled by rebel groups were now\ in principle\
formally acceptable[ This was subsequently made more explicit in General Assembly
Resolution 34:099\ which praises the Secretary General for continuing consultations
on the establishment of {humanitarian corridors| "Guilot\ 0883\ p[ 21#[ In the English
language literature\ both these resolutions are usually viewed as a logical development
of the contracting arrangements between the UNand NGOs\ and an e}ort to establish
a basis for more e}ective coordination[ But from a French perspective\ there was
much more to it than that[
Kouchner|s personal ambitions had grown steadily[ His most signi_cant campaign so
far had come in 0868 with the chartering of a ship\ lIlc-ac-lunic`rc\ to send aid to
Vietnamese refugees[ The episode involved the _rst large scale example of what
Kouchner himself terms {iapagc nc'aiaiiquc|\ the orchestration of a media furore
around a particular campaign\ necessarily attracting the attention of the fashionable
Parisian intelligentsia\ pop stars and politicians of the day[ Although the ship eventu!
ally sailed\ the a}air and Kouchner|s tactics resulted not only in splitting MSF\ but
also in _ring the _rst shots in domestic French battles over the relationship between
NGOs and media and the politicization of emergency aid "Kouchner\ 0879\ 0875\
0880^ Hamon and Rotman\ 0877#[
Kouchner appeared to thrive on the polemic over the boat and promptly formed
an organisation Mc'accins Du Monac "MDM# with a mandate very similar to MSF[
This split partially explains the excessively personal and polemical nature of much of
the subsequent debate over French NGOs[ The other key element in understanding
both the controversy in 0868\ and the nature of subsequent debate\ is Kouchner|s
unreservedly blatant manipulation of his media and political contacts[ Kouchner|s
own personal links with sections of France|s political and media elite are considerable[
His contacts supplement his intuitive understanding of the role of the media in politics[
It is this which largely explains the degree of myth!making and image!building around
his own personality\ most explicitly during the Somali crisis and the tail end of the
Beregovoy administration when he appeared*albeit brie~y*in late 0881 as the only
Socialist Party minister with any popularity[
The other\ more signi_cant dimension is his early understanding of the pro!
fessionalization of NGOs and their unique relationship with the media as they became
a source for media representation of the {Third World| whilst simultaneously depend!
ing on the media to raise public and political awareness at home of the issues on
which they worked[ Thus his 0875 book {Chariic' Busincss| perceptively analyses the
relationship between the role of NGOs\ the media and government policy makers[
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Kouchncr ana ihc Ncw Hunaniiarianisn 722
Whilst mostly dealing with France\ here Kouchner highlights debates of international
signi_cance which have been curiously lacking elsewhere "exceptions include Benthall\
0882^ Allen and Seaton\ 0888#[ To understand how Kouchner and his allies were to
use these attributes to promote and popularize the idea of lc aroii aingc'rcncc\ it is
necessary to understand the intellectual and political climate in Paris during the mid!
eighties\ out of which the idea of ingc'rcncc arose[
In the mid!eighties Ethiopia became the focal point for a ferocious con~ict in
France over the role of both humanitarian aid and NGOs[ Although the de_nition of
what constituted humanitarian aid\ and whether it was morally acceptable to co!
operate with Ethiopia|s Marxist government\ was the focus of the debate\ it was
conducted in the broader context about French post!colonial attitudes towards the
{Third World| in general and Africa in particular[ Ethiopia appears an improbable
catalyst in France\ but it was signi_cant for two reasons[ Firstly Ethiopia appeared
to epitomise the worst excesses of Stalinist orthodoxy in Africa[ Secondly it lay outside
the established French sphere of in~uence in Africa\ and therefore the debate could
proceed largely unhampered by the practical exigencies of French policy making[
In December 0874 a team of doctors working for Mc'accins Sans Froniic`rcs was
expelled from Ethiopia\ ostensibly for having publicly denounced the programme of
resettlement[ The incident itself is not relevant to our current argument\ although it
brought MSF abruptly to the attention of other European and North American
NGOs "for a view of how MSF|s decision was perceived\ see Jansson ci al. "0876\ p[
13##[ What is important is that the expulsion became the catalyst for MSF|s role in
the campaign against aid to the regime in Ethiopia[ This in turn became enmeshed in
a far wider crusade against what was denounced in Paris as iicrsnonaisnc\ "{third!
worldism|# which had been brewing for some time[ The term {third!worldism| means
little in English[ Whilst a couple of works have used the term with connotations
related to the French usage\ it is hardly a term of intellectual abuse "Toye\ 0876^
Harris\ 0875#[ But in France in the eighties this became its primary use\ as a pejorative
label used by some writers to pigeonhole their detractors within French intellectual
Ticrsnonaisnc has been de_ned as {an attempt to rescue Marxist theory with the
help of Rousseau|s clearly anti!Marxist concept of the {{noble savage|| | "Guilot\ 0883\
p[ 23#[ It had emerged in France in the wake of the war in Algeria\ the students|
revolt of May 0857\ and the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia[ Disillusioned with
conventional Marxist socialism\ and impressed by the achievements of anti!colonial
movements\ the {Third World| was seen as comprising the {international proletariat|[
One result of this shift was an increased concern in France with world poverty\ and
the emergence of secular aid agencies\ including MSF[ However\ over time a division
emerged between\ on the one hand\ groups and individuals espousing "or accused of
espousing# the original anti!colonialist position or simplistic ideas of Christian charity
and\ on the other\ those who {discovered| human rights| and who wanted to promote
a nission civilisairicc[ MSF and the {without borders| movement as a whole\ were
associated with the latter camp[
In 0872 Pascal Bruckner\ an author with little experience of foreign a}airs\ pub!
lished a book entitled 1c Sangloi ac lHonnc Blanc[ This denounced the tyranny of
iicrsnonaisnc\ described as an ill!founded sense of guilt based on self!hate inculcated
through a colonial heritage^ a hangover from colonialism which\ according to Bruck!
ner\ continued to haunt Europeans[ Mixed with a potent cocktail of Marxism and
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misguided Christianity\ he claimed this had dominated and distorted not only France|s
post!colonial vision of the {Third World|\ but also its policies of aid and solidarity
towards former colonies "Bruckner\ 0872#[ Similar ideas were then re!packaged by
1ibcric's Sans Froniic`rcs\ an o}!shoot of MSF\ in a conference entitled {Third!World!
ism in Question| in January 0875[ The conference was well publicized\ generating
signi_cant media attention in France and subsequently a book edited by MSF|s head
"Brauman\ 0875#[
Whilst the rest of the Western world came to terms with the 087374 Ethiopian
famine and subsequent aid e}ort\ French activists and intellectuals became engaged
in a vitriolic debate[ Apparently it was about the morals of aiding a Marxist govern!
ment with no respect for human rights\ but it frequently seemed to be calling into
question any manifestation of {Third World| solidarity by French NGOs[ Whilst
ostensibly about Ethiopia\ in reality the arguments had much more to do with shifting
French attitudes to Marxism\ most particularly the Marxism espoused by {Third
World| governments[ The height of this campaign came with further Paris conferences
on Ethiopia and the publication of Silcncc On Tuc\ perhaps best described as a
rant against the Ethiopian regime\ Bob Geldof\ and African socialism in general
"Glucksmann and Wolton\ 0875#[
Out of such polemics emerged the view that aid should be refused to governments
committing human rights abuses\ here citing Ethiopia|s forcible resettlement of popu!
lations[ From this it was a relatively short step to arguing that further sanctions might
be applied\ even when this might override the principle of state sovereignty[ As
mentioned above\ actions by international organisations of the kind that had occurred
in Biafra were not necessarily regarded as illegal\ according to French practice of
international law[ Now the idea gained currency that the "already existing# legal basis
for ingc'rcncc should be more actively developed\ not just in France\ but in the wider
{international community|[ The debate also gave rise to more nuanced work on the
problems of NGOs operating in situations of civil war "Ru.n\ 0875^ Condamines\
Given the fury with which they were denounced\ foreigners may well ask who these
misguided iicrsnonaisic souls were who had supposedly dominated French thought
for so long\ with ostensibly such dire results for French policy[ Do\ or did they ever
exist< Whilst clearly identi_able iicrsnonaisic currents of thought did exist in the
sixties and seventies\ the debate of the mid!eighties must be seen largely as the
retrospective reconstruction of a straw doll for some writers to better prove their anti!
Marxist credentials[ Rose!tinted French images of\ and solidarity with\ {Third World|
states professing socialism had already been extensively criticised by many former
activists[ As far back as 0867 numerous self!critiques had charted French intellectuals|
disillusionment with the {Third World| alternatives they had earlier championed
"Burguiere\ 0867^ Challiand\ 0867#[ It is true that there was a speci_c perception in
some sections of the French left of the revolutionary potential of {Third World|
struggles "much of it based on the Algerian experience#\ but by the late seventies\
most analysts had shed starry!eyed idealism[ Nevertheless\ it should be stressed that
the numerous defences and rede_nitions which the anti!iicrsnonaisic attacks pro!
voked during the eighties in both the NGO and academic communities does suggest
that the critics did in part hit their targets\ lancing the latent simplicity of left!wing
attitudes to the {Third World|\ prompting the writing of more critical histories of
French attitudes to the {Third World| "Lacoste\ 0874^ Liazu\ 0876#[
Copyright 1999 John Wiley + Sons\ Ltd[ 1. Ini. Dcv. 01\ 714731 "1999#
Kouchncr ana ihc Ncw Hunaniiarianisn 724
How were the above debates linked to the evolution of the idea of lc aroii aing-
c'rcncc<*principally through the timing of the debates\ the small cast of individuals
involved "largely drawn from the milieu of Parisian intelligentsia# and their focus on
issues of individual human rights above the rights of states[ Bernard Kouchner himself
was not an energetic partisan in the MSFdebate over Ethiopia\ in part due to personal
enmities with MSF head Brauman and with Claude Malhuret\ Chirac|s Minister of
Human Rights between 0875 and 0877[
Kouchner publicly distanced himself from
the polemic\ declaring there were {no good and bad deaths|\ implying in the various
conferences on the issue the ideological orientation of the government wasn|t relevant[
However\ he was at this time working on the more ambitious project to promote the
notion of lc aroii aingc'rcncc[
This was formally launched at a MDM conference on {humanitarian law and
morals| in Paris in January 0876 "Kouchner and Bettati\ 0876#[ In the light of sub!
sequent claims made for it\ the intentions of the 0876 meeting appear modest\ being
restricted largely to ensuring access to emergency health care for peoples in distress\
essentially medical health care as provided by MSF and MDM[ Mitterrand endorsed
the need for {defence of human rights in the {{Third World|| | and cohabiiaiion obligc[
The then Prime Minister\ Jacques Chirac also called for additional assistance for
humanitarian organizations "1ibcraiion 16 and 18 January 0876#[
Nevertheless\ for Kouchner this seems to have marked the formal launching of his
campaign to establish a {humanitarian law|\ with heavyweight political backing[ He
wanted to make humanitarian action more than a duty or moral obligation "acvoir#\
and to turn it into a legal right "aroii#[ With the anniversary of the Declaration the
Rights of Man approaching\ such an idea resonated with French national identity[
He was no doubt also mindful of the impending 0877 elections\ and the possibility of
displacing his rival\ Malhuret[ In the event he became minister both of health and
aciion hunaniiairc in the new government\ the latter being a post created especially
for him[ He immediately set about trying to extend his in~uence outside of France\
through the United Nations[ According to him\ General Assembly Resolutions 32:020
and 34:099 were the direct result[ As he puts it] {I was not only in~uential[ I was
writing it[ They were my people\ coming from my cabinet and myself| "Kouchner\
taped interview with Tim Allen\ April 0888#[ He argues that this set the framework
for what followed in the 0889s[ By establishing the principle of humanitarian assistance
across borders\ it was possible to broaden the legal notion of humanitarian inter!
vention to military interference\ not just to prevent atrocities like genocide\ but also
to provide relief[
It is important to stress that Kouchner|s activities provoked considerable unease
amongst some activists in the French NGO sector[ Rony Brauman\ who had become
chairman of MSF!France in 0871\ was highly critical of Kouchner|s position[ He
pointed out that international jurisprudence is a _ckle and slippery term to be used
by states when convenient[ Whilst plausible on paper\ the practical implementation
of lc aroii aingc'rcncc runs counter to the original intentions of it being a device to
Claude Malhuret was also an ex!president of MSF[ The intertwined personal and institutional con~icts
around MSF are deep and complex\ notably between Malhuret\ Kouchner and Rony Brauman\ who has
written extensively on the matter "Brauman\ 0884#[
The idea of French nationalism is often linked to the French {invention| of human rights in 0678[ It is
also worth noting that it was a Frenchman\ A[ Rougier\ who\ in 0809\ _rst de_ned humanitarian intervention
"Guilot\ 0883\ p[ 30#[
725 T. Hllcn ana D. Siyan
Copyright 1999 John Wiley + Sons\ Ltd[ 1. Ini. Dcv. 01\ 714731 "1999#
allow NGOs access to victims[ A humanitarian invasion inevitably mixes military and
humanitarian aims\ and the promotion of ingc'rcncc by governments irrevocably
confuses those two aims\ thus corrupting its original intent "Brauman\ 0880#[ Similar
points were made by MSF sta} interviewed in Paris in 0888[ As Francois Jean\
Director of Research at the MSF Foundation\ put it]
We were against this principle "lc aroii aingc'rcncc# because we felt that it was
mainly the right for a strong state to intervene in weak states [ [ [ We questioned
the purity of intention of any state undertaking so called humanitarian inter!
ventions "taped interview with Tim Allen\ April 0888#[
The fundamental questioning of state motivation by Brauman and Jean probably
re~ects a degree of personal animosity\ particularly between the former and Kouchner[
But state interference in various parts of the world was\ of course\ nothing new in
France\ and was a focus of understandable cynicism[ In this respect there is an irony
in the Parisian roots and elaboration of the idea of ingc'rcncc in that French foreign
policy\ most particularly towards its former colonies\ was itself rooted in a very
di}erent\ but systematic form of intervention[ France|s former sub!Saharan African
colonies\ and francophone states formerly under Belgian rule "Zaire\ Rwanda and
Burundi# were tied to France by a series of defence accords\ while France maintained
a string of major military bases in the continent stretching from Senegal to Djibouti[
Throughout the 0879s\ French policy in Africa remained little changed[ As already
noted\ it was not coincidental that the ingc'rcncc debate was initially focused on
Ethiopia\ and not countries with substantial French military and economic interests[
For this reason\ there appeared to be little linkage between the intellectual polemics
over interventionism in Paris and the actual practice of French policy in the continent[
It was only in the mid to late 0889s that critical voices were raised publicly over the
corrupt and stagnant nature of French policy towards Africa[
However\ one should be careful of denying any linkage between such debates and
policy[ Notable was the way in which the loose taint of being too {iicrsnonaisic| was
used to discredit e}orts by some in the _rst post!0870 Socialist administration\ most
particularly the minister of cooperation\ Jean!Pierre Cot\ to set a new direction for
France|s African policy[ Cot resigned in December 0871 and President Mitterand\
partly via his son\ Jean!Christophe\ reasserted Gaullist direct links with African
leaders[ It has been argued that the disarray in the government ranks over policy
towards established African clients such as Chad and Central African Republic
during 0871 re~ected a deeper intellectual poverty\ lack of focus and unpreparedness
in Socialist Party thinking on Africa "Bayart\ 0873^ Cot\ 0873#[ Indeed\ despite
Mitterand|s speech at La Baule in 0889 "ostensibly linking French assistance to Africa
to democratization#\ it was to be another decade\ and only after the Rwandan genocide
of 088384\ before the reformist tendency which Cot represented began to gain the
upper!hand^ ironically under a right!wing administration[
But obviously the debate over intervention and ingc'rcncc has relevance to a wider
context than simply France|s relations with Africa[ If Kouchner|s claims to have been
responsible for General Assembly Resolution 32:020 may be overblown\ there is no
Copyright 1999 John Wiley + Sons\ Ltd[ 1. Ini. Dcv. 01\ 714731 "1999#
Kouchncr ana ihc Ncw Hunaniiarianisn 726
denying his considerable role[ In the English language literature it is generally argued
that the humanitarian intervention in Iraq with military support was a consequence
of critical news media coverage\ the availability of UN a.liated troops in the region
in the aftermath of the 0880 Gulf war\ concerns about in~uxes of refugees into Europe\
and the precedents which had already been set for establishing {zones of tranquility|
in war zones by the UN in Africa "for example in southern Sudan# "Allen\ 0888\ pp[
080084#[ However the wording of Security Council Resolution 577 seems to suggest
French connotations of {the right to intervene|\ which Kouchner probably in~uenced
through the French ambassador to the council\ and of which he certainly approved[
The Resolution insisted that {Iraq allow immediate access to international humani!
tarian organisations to all those in need of assistance in all parts of Iraq|[
We also should not overlook Kouchner|s personal charisma[ He was a possible
candidate for the position of UN High Commissioner for Refugees[ Although the job
eventually went to Sadako Ogata "allegedly because the Japanese o}ered to provide
a larger proportion of the organisation|s budget than the French#\ the controversial
{preventive protection| policies adopted by UNHCR in the early 0889s surely re~ect
his ideas[ Indeed\ Sadako Ogata has mentioned to one of the authors of this paper
that she discussed issues with him at the time "interview with Tim Allen\ May 0888#[
By the time of the Somalia operation in 0881\ both the media pro_le and political
standing of Kouchner in France\ now minister of health and humanitarian action\
were higher than ever\ boosted notably by his campaigning over Bosnia and trip with
Mitterrand to Sarajevo in June 0881[ Somalia\ like Ethiopia\ was relatively distant
"in geographic and political terms# from the vested interests that the ministries of
foreign a}airs\ cooperation and defence had in Francophone African states[ As media
attention over the plight of the Somalis increased during the summer\ Kouchner and
his lobby within the French state apparatus were vocal in arguing that military
intervention was necessary[ The lobby was given considerable public and media
support via a campaign whereby every French schoolchild was asked to donate rice
for Somalia[
Although from a logistical and nutritional point of view the campaign made little
sense\ its symbolism and psychological impact on the French public eager to {do
something and help| was formidable[ It also underlined the animosity with which
most ministries viewed Kouchner|s antics[ Defence\ foreign a}airs and cooperation
all attempted to steer clear of having anything to do with Kouchner|s rice[ Despite
his pleading\ France pointedly declined Boutros Ghali|s call for military assistance
for Somalia on 06 November 0881[ Defence Minister Pierre Joxe publicly denounced
Kouchner|s public pleas for French military intervention\ pointedly stressing {there
are many other cases\ for example Liberia or Sudan\ where a military intervention
would be equally valid| "1c Monac\ 0 December 0881^ Joxe in 1c Poini\ 01 December
0881#[ However\ once the Security Council passed resolution 683 authorising foreign
military intervention in Somalia on 3 December 0881\ the French position changed[
Not only were 0699 French troops immediately committed to the operation\ but it
was hailed by many in France as a crucial milestone in establishing lc aroii aingc'rcncc[
On 3 December President Mitterand talked of the {historic proportions| of the
decision to embark on {an operation of ingc'rcncc hunaniiairc clearly under the
The British Foreign Secretary in the early 0889s\ Douglas Hurd\ has also noted Kouchner|s in~uence on
Ogata "see Hurd\ 0886\ p[ 128#[
727 T. Hllcn ana D. Siyan
Copyright 1999 John Wiley + Sons\ Ltd[ 1. Ini. Dcv. 01\ 714731 "1999#
guarantee of the United Nations\ "which is# a totally new phenomena in international
law|[ France|s representative at the UN claimed {this commitment _ts with the prin!
cipal of the law of humanitarian urgency for which France has so often called|[ For
Kouchner\ resolution 683 represented {a fantastic step forward\ a new legal base for
the international law of ingc'rcncc| "1c Monac\ 4 and 56 December 0881\ see also {1c
aroii aingc'rcncc|\ 1c Figaro 45 December 0881\ and {1an 0 au aroii aingc'rcncc|\
1ibc'raiion\ 3 December 0881#[
This self!congratulation paid little heed to the obvious point that it was outgoing US
President Bush who triggered the operation and that US troops made up the bulk of
the {UN| force[ Whilst in the US and elsewhere in Europe the uniqueness of the
operation was acknowledged\ only in France was the decision seen as marking a
watershed in international relations[ It appeared a decisive battle in Kouchner|s long
crusade\ although the military and humanitarian ambiguities of ingc'rcncc were neatly
highlighted as Kouchner splashed around for French cameras with his rice\ whilst a
few miles down the same Somali beach US marines prepared to invade^ as 1ibc'raiion
put it\ in its own inimitable style {1hunaniiairc scn va-i-cn gucrrc| "4 December 0881#[
Outside of France\ the Somalia adventure is usually depicted as an almost unmiti!
gated disaster for the new humanitarianism[ But in France again things are a little
di}erent[ Certainly there is an acceptance that errors were made[ One analyst referred
to Sonalic] lc gucrrc pcrauc ac lhunaniiairc "Smith\ 0882#\ and Kouchner|s successor
as Minister for Humanitarian Action\ Lucette Michaux!Chevry\ was highly critical
of his paternalism[ Nevertheless\ the principle of interference is often understood to
have survived intact[ When interviewed in 0888\ Kouchner passionately reiterated his
vision[ For him\ Somalia remains a great achievement\ a benchmark for ingc'rcncc[
He vehemently rejects assertions that it was a catastrophe for humanitarianism]
There are no humanitarian catastrophes\ only political catastrophes [ [ [ No;
What was catastrophic "in Somalia# was the American attitude [ [ [ A war without
prisoners\ a war without dead people*this is just crazy[ Unfortunately a few
courageous people were killed in Mogadishu[ I am sorry for them[ But none of
my people\ none of the French legionnaires had problems [ [ [ So Somalia was a
big success [ [ [ After this intervention babies were not dying[ So it was a success[
We were not supposed to stop the _ghting between the war lords[ The schools
were opened\ the crops were grown and the roads were repaired [ [ [ They are still
_ghting\ of course yes[ But we were not in charge[ Other examples are better\
because we are getting better[ Albania "for example# was a tremendous success
for interference [ [ [ "taped interview with Tim Allen in English\ April 0888#
Whilst Somalia was outside the traditional French sphere of in~uence in Africa\ thus
giving the Minister of Humanitarian Action greater leeway within the French policy
apparatus\ this very clearly was noi the case in Rwanda[ Rwanda\ a francophone
country in which French troops had been stationed since 0889\ presented a very
di}erent con_guration of French policy interests[ It therefore illustrates far more
sharply the inherent contradictions of the idea of humanitarian intervention in France
with long!standing French foreign policy objectives[ Kouchner accepts that events
there in 0883 were appalling[ But he maintains that one of its legacies has been to
strengthen\ not weaken the case for ingc'rcncc[ When reminded that in 0880\ the year
of MSF|s twentieth anniversary\ he had asserted that the era of genocide was over\
he responded]
Copyright 1999 John Wiley + Sons\ Ltd[ 1. Ini. Dcv. 01\ 714731 "1999#
Kouchncr ana ihc Ncw Hunaniiarianisn 728
It was not true[ It was a mistake [ [ [ But we did not interfere unfortunately[
Nineteen countries were supposed to answer yes to Boutro Ghali|s call [ [ [ All
refused[ That|s the reason[ Afterwards they came\ and I was there[ We tried and
we succeeded in saving a lot of children [ [ [ It was not enough [ [ [ "taped interview
with Tim Allen\ April 0888#
Kouchner is here referring to France|s {opc'raiion iurquoisc|\ which began in Rwanda
on 12 June 0883[ It took place under Security Council Resolution 818\ agreed just the
previous evening[ This resolution was solely a French initiative\
as was "if we discount
the French trained and armed Senegalese# the subsequent military intervention[ Yet
once again it was legitimized in France with slogans of humanitarian aims and lc aroii
These issues remain a focus of heated debate in France[ MSF\ partly through its
network of o.ces in other countries\ has become more engaged with the English
language discussion of humanitarianism[ It has taken on board criticisms that have
been made of its programmes\ and has been particularly disturbed by the evidence of
relief activities reinforcing war economies[ A report in 0886 even went so far as to
state that the Biafra intervention was a {salutary mistake| "MSF\ 0886\ p[ 1\ xxi#[
But Kouchner remains de_ant\ and still has a large following[ When interviewed in
Paris at the time of the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia\ he was again Minister of
Health in the French government[ He had little time for the antipathy to lc aroii
aingc'rcncc expressed by MSF\ or the suggestion that the Biafra had been an error[
He asserted that they were just {bull!shitting people|\ because {only the victims can
say such a thing|[ For Kouchner it is just stupid not to establish principles which
propel states towards humanitarian action\ or to suggest that sovereignty should be
protected when humanitarian violations are occurring]
I invented MSF to go where the others were not able to go[ And believe me\ if
MSF is not going\ some new and young organization will go\ and take the relief[
It is always like that[ They are old people in their mind "taped interview with
Tim Allen\ April 0888#
To the argument that access to war zones requires negotiation with warring factions\
and thereby reinforces the very structures causing the violence\ he replied robustly]
Of course yes[ Don|t be childish[ If you are just negotiating enough to save some
people [ [ [ God looks at you [ [ [ You do not reinforce anything with two bags of
rice[ It is not a problem[ Of course it|s better to go straight and not to give
anything to the enemy\ but you have no enemy[ If you are humanitarian [ [ [ this
is not politics\ you must be neutral\ taking care of all[ Giving the least possible
to the check points [ [ [ "taped interview with Tim Allen\ April 0888#
But he also accepted that lc aroii aingc'rcncc implies a very di}erent kind of approach\
Counter to UN practice\ the French proposal\ which led to 818\ was not seconded by another state[ Five
members of the Security Council abstained from the vote] Brazil\ China\ Nigeria\ New Zealand and
739 T. Hllcn ana D. Siyan
Copyright 1999 John Wiley + Sons\ Ltd[ 1. Ini. Dcv. 01\ 714731 "1999#
one that usually involves taking sides and perhaps killing people[ He argues that
General Assembly Resolution 32:020 and the hundreds of Security Council Res!
olutions of the 0889s provide a framework for such actions\ and must be employed
{to change the world|[ For Kouchner\ this is the real {new humanitarianism|\ a duty
to intervene backed up by what he regards to be new "or at least more explicit#
international law[ This does not necessarily require neutrality in the sense of helping
without judging\ but it does imply imposing certain norms of behaviour everywhere[
On the situation in Kosovo he made the following observations]
I was talking to my Prime Minister today\ and I said that the situation in Kosovo
is the same as the situation of the Kurdish people at the Turkish border after the
bombing in Iraq\ when we wrote the 577 "Security Council# Resolution [ [ [ I|m
going to try to get the same resolution now to protect the people in Kosovo
[ [ [ We should send in ground troops [ [ [ Unfortunately some very mistaken
intellectuals have fought against the right to interfere\ because*I don|t know
why*because they were manipulated by those people from MSF [ [ [ they made
a very\ very dirty\ dirty job "taped interview with Tim Allen\ April 0888#
Three months later he was appointed as head of the UN Interim Administration
Mission in Kosovo "having been chosen in preference to the former UK Liberal
Democrat leader\ Paddy Ashdown#[ At the time he was referred to in the British
media as {the French candidate|[ The implication seemed to be that he was some sort
of faceless bureaucrat[ Whatever else one might say about him\ he certainly is not
According to Kouchner\ the institutionalization of the idea of ingc'rcncc during the
0889s has far reaching implications[ Certainly it has not gone away[ Indeed\ assertions
by the Blair government about the {humanitarian bombing| in 0888 being a mani!
festation of {ethical foreign policy|\ sounded like an attempt to Anglicize the concept[
In March 1999\ Kouchner addressed the Security Council\ using typically vehement
language and\ also typically\ releasing his statements to the press[ He asserted that it
was {unacceptable| for the UN Mission to Kosovo to have to beg for funds that had
already been pledged "www[un[org:peace:kosovo:pages:kosovo4[htm#[ It is not the
sort of thing that has traditionally been said in such meetings\ or at least not o.cially
reported to have been said[
In theory at least\ humanitarian action may now be required\ and failure to act
may be an o}ence\ or at least liable to o.cial censure[ It is perhaps signi_cant that
the recently published report of the independent inquiry into the actions of the United
Nations during the 0883 genocide in Rwanda names those who were responsible for
not taking adequate preventive action\ including the current UN Secretary General\
Ko_ Annan[ A prosecution is currently under way in the US courts in which Rwan!
dans are arguing that the UN Security Council had been duty!bound to intervene in
0883\ and that the abrogation of responsibility\ which everyone now accepts occurred\
is legally culpable[
As ever\ Kouchner has no hesitation in ascribing his views to the organisation he
represents*something that often drove colleagues at MSF\ MDM and in the French
government to a state of total apoplexy[ In his new role he made the following
statements at a speech in Pristina in October 0888\ following the murder of one of his
Copyright 1999 John Wiley + Sons\ Ltd[ 1. Ini. Dcv. 01\ 714731 "1999#
Kouchncr ana ihc Ncw Hunaniiarianisn 730
That people are still murdered for their ethnicity\ language\ religion\ culture or
other a.liation here and around the world is disgusting and will not be tolerated
by the United Nations and should not be tolerated by any citizen of the world
[ [ [ His "Valentine Krumov|s# sacri_ce for our common dreams and goals was a
noble cause*a higher calling that we of the United Nations commit to each day
we arrive at work[ We will continue to struggle[ We will continue to implement
the goals of the United Nations without trepidation and fear from evil forces
who seek repression and persecution [ [ [ "www[un[org:peace:kosovo:pages:
For Kouchner\ the idealism of the student revolt in Paris has not dimmed with the
passing of the years[ This child of |57 still thinks that everything is possible[ His brand
of politics seems larger than life or just foolish to many Anglophones[ The former
British Foreign Secretary\ Douglas Hurd\ who had to deal with him in the early 0889s\
patronisingly dismisses himin his book on peace!keeping as Mitterrand|s {hyperactive
Aid minister| "Hurd\ 0886\ p[ 127#[ But\ it is surely a mistake to underestimate his
impact[ Clearly something extraordinary has happened to international humani!
tarianism[ {Warts and all|\ this has been partly a product of Bernard Kouchner|s
African Rights[ 0883[ Hunaniiarianisn Unbouna African Rights\ London[
Allen T[ 0881[ Upheaval\ a/iction and health] a Ugandan case study[ In Tural 1ivclihooas]
Criscs ana Tcsponscs\ Bernstein H\ Crow B\ Johnson H "eds#[ Oxford University Press]
Allen T[ 0883[ Closed minds\ open systems] a/iction and healing in West Nole\ Uganda[ In H
Tivcr of Blcssings] Essays in Honor of Paul Ba:icr\ Brokensha D "ed#[ Maxwell School
African Series 33\ Syracuse University\ New York[
Allen T "ed#[ 0885[ In Scarch of Cool Grouna] 1ar\ Flighi ana Honcconing in Norihcasi Hfrica[
James Currey] London[
Allen T[ 0888[ War genocide and aid[ Sociologus\ Supplcncni 0] Thc Dynanics of 1iolcncc[
Duncker + Humblot] Berlin[
Allen T[ 1999[ A world at war[ In Povcriy ana Dcvclopncni inio ihc 10si Ccniury\ Allen T\
Thomas A "eds#[ Oxford University Press] Oxford[
Allen T\ Morsink H "eds#[ 0883[ 1hcn Tcfugccs Go Honc] Hfrican E:pcricnccs[ James Currey]
Allen T\ Seaton J "eds# 0888[ Thc Mcaia of Confici] 1ar Tcporiing ana Tcprcscniaiions of
Eihnic 1iolcncc[ Zed Press] London[
Bayart J!F[ 0873[ 1a Poliiiquc Hfricainc Dc Miiicrrana[ Karthala] Paris[
Benthall J[ 0882[ Disasicrs\ Tclicf ana ihc Mcaia[ IB Taurus] London[
Black M[ 0881[ H Causc for our Tinc] O:fan\ Thc Firsi 49 Ycars[ Oxfam] Oxford[
Brauman R "ed#[ 0875[ 1c Ticrsnonaisnc En Qucsiion[ O[ Orban] Paris[
Brauman R[ 0880[ Contre L|Humanitarianisme[ 1Esprii "Paris# 066] 6674[
Brauman R[ 0884[ We can|t say we didn|t know[ In Populaiions in Dangcr 0884[ Medecins Sans
Frontieres[ Paris[
Bruckner P "ed#[ 0872[ 1c Sangloi ac lHonnc Blanc] Ticrs-nonac\ Culpabiliic'\ Hainc ac Soi.
Editions du Seuil] Paris[
731 T. Hllcn ana D. Siyan
Copyright 1999 John Wiley + Sons\ Ltd[ 1. Ini. Dcv. 01\ 714731 "1999#
Burguiere A[ 0867[ 1c Ticrs Monac ci la Gauchc[ Le Seuil] Paris[
Cassese A[ 0889[ Hunan Tighis in a Changing 1orla[ Polity Press] Cambridge[
Chaliland G[ 0867[ Myihcs ci Tcvoluiionncs Ticrsnonaisic[ Le Seuil] Paris[
Condamines C[ 0876[ L|Ethiopie[ 1c Monac Diplonaiiquc\ Jan[
Cot J!P[ 0873[ H 1Eprcuvc Du Pouvoir[ Seuil] Paris[
De Waal A[ 0886[ Faninc Crincs[ James Currey] Oxford[
Forbes I\ Ho}man M[ 0882[ Poliiical Thcory\ Inicrnaiional Tclaiions ana ihc Eihics of Inicr-
vcniion[ Macmillan] London[
Fox R[ 0884[ Medical humanitarianism and human rights] re~ections on doctors without
borders and doctors of the world[ Social Scicncc ana Mcaicinc 30"01#] 05960515[
Glucksmann A\ Wolton T[ 0875[ Silcncc on Tuc[ Grasset] Paris[
Guilot P[ 0883[ France\ peacekeeping and humanitarian intervention[ Inicrnaiional Pca-
cckccping 0"0#[
Hamon H\ Rotman P[ 0876[ 1a Gc'nc'raiion\ vol[ 0[ Le Seuil] Paris[
Harris N[ 0875[ Thc Ena of ihc Thira 1orla[ Penguin] London[
Harrell!Bond B[ 0875[ Inposing Hia[ Oxford University Press] Oxford[
Hanlon J[ 0880[ Mo:anbiquc] 1ho Calls ihc Shois James Currey] London[
Hancock G[ 0878[ Thc 1oras of Povcriy[ Macmillan] London[
Hurd D[ 0886[ Thc Scarch for Pcacc[ Little\ Brown and Company] London[
Jannsson K\ Harris M\ Penrose A[ 0876[ Thc Eihiopian Faninc[ Zed] London[
Keen D[ 0883[ Thc Bcncfis of Faninc[ Princeton University Press] Princeton[
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