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Humanitarian Negotiations Revealed

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New book examines hard decisions made in difficult contexts

© Juan Carlos-Tomasi.

Humanitarian Negotiations Revealed examines the reality of the compromises Médecins Sans Frontières has made – some successfully and some less so – to try and help the people suffering most in the world today.

Humanitarian action at any price?

It is written by Médecins Sans Frontières insiders, but is far from a PR exercise. Decisions made in the ‘heat of battle’ by Médecins Sans Frontières are unpicked and critiqued.

Released just a few weeks before Médecins Sans Frontières celebrated its fortieth anniversary, the book sets out to deliberately puncture a number of the myths that place humanitarianism above politics.

Writers describe how, in fact, it is the difficult negotiations with varying parties, each of whom have their own vested interests, that can permit an aid agency to work in a given area – or not.

At a time where humanitarian actors are questioning their ability to overcome the obstacles they are encountering, this book seeks to help fuel the debate on their ambitions and the best ways of fulfilling them.

The reality of Médecins Sans Frontières efforts

Case studies from recent conflicts such as Yemen, Sri Lanka and Afghanistan lay bare the reality of Médecins Sans Frontières' efforts to reach the most affected people, and explore just what the limits of compromise should be.

There are also a series of thematic essays that explore broader issues, such as the real usefulness of aid responses to natural disasters.

‘This is a very valuable book. It shows one of the world’s great humanitarian organisations thinking aloud about the difficult choices it faces as it struggles to save and protect human life. The tone of Humanitarian Negotiations Revealed is exceptional for its frank and public self-scrutiny. In this respect, it breaks new ground and reveals a truly reflective humanitarian movement that is not afraid to learn in public. This honesty, and the insights into humanitarian history it offers, will make the book an important reference text in humanitarian studies, international relations and organisational theory. And, of course, it will fascinate those who continue to be intrigued by the particular aura and mystique of MSF.’ Dr Hugo Slim, Oxford Institute of Ethics, Law and Armed Conflict, University of Oxford


Wellington: Humanitarian Negotiations Revealed: The MSF Experience book launch

On the occasion of the 40th anniversary of Médecins Sans Frontières the New Zealand Institmore

Melbourne: Humanitarian Action at Any Price? Médecins Sans Frontières and 40 Years of Negotiating Access

The University of Melbourne Graduate School of Humanities & Social Sciences hosts the more

Canberra: Humanitarian Aid at any Price? The Médecins Sans Frontières experience

The Department of International Relations within the School of International, Political anmore

Sydney: Humanitarian Negotiations Unveiled - in the frontline with Médecins Sans Frontières

As part of its regular seminar program, the Australian Institute of International Affairs more

Book Details

Publisher: Columbia University Press
Year: 2011
Editors: Claire Magone, Fabrice Weissman and Michael Neuman (eds).
Paperback: ISBN: 978-0-231-70315-4
ISBN: 978-0-231-70314-7

Available in all good bookstores in Australia & New Zealand.