Bernard Kouchner, a medical doctor by training, is the co-founder and former president of Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders). The first person to challenge the Red Cross's stance of neutrality and silence in wars and massacres, Kouchner has played an important role in international humanitarian efforts for more than 20 years. As France's minister of health and humanitarian affairs, he convinced the UN to accept "the right to interfere" resolution, and after devastating civil wars in the Balkans, served as special representative to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan in Kosovo. He is the author of several books and the co-founder of the news magazines L'Evénement and Actuel. He is the recipient of several human rights awards, including the Dag Hammarskjold Prize and the Prix Europa.
More About Bernard Kouchner
“Noting that the intervention of the international community almost invariably came too late, we sought to define a ‘responsibility to protect’ (‘R2P’) that imposed an obligation to act as early as possible in protection of human rights.”
“Fortunately, the UN, the African Union and the Arab League are here to provide us with a legal framework so that this momentary violence – under resolution 1973 – may serve to achieve real peace, surely preferable to a pacifism that would allow civilians to be slaughtered.”
When asked whether humanitarian intervention is effective, Bernard Kouchner responds, “Medical doctors cannot accept massacres, just cannot. But that’s why, for me, the humanitarian conception is always a bit political. Protecting the people is political and of course, the humanitarian access is difficult. My answer is: Yes we have to protect, yes we have to act by prevention and, yes we have to act by information and education.”
In discussing the founding of Doctors Without Borders, Bernard Kouchner says, “We discovered that there were people dying of starvation, they were dying of misery. Of course they were also dying from bombs… Every day there were violations of human rights, of course it was a civil war... So what were we supposed to do?”
On humanitarian intervention, Bernard Kouchner argues, "If it is your brother, your sister, your mother, you'll ask me to intervene."
Bernard Kouchner discusses intervention and specific cases including Syria, Sudan, and Rwanda, among others.