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A History of Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières

The Forum for Scholars and Publics will host a lunch with Laurence Binet, the Director of Studies of Fondation Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) for MSF International and the internal historian for Doctors Without Borders/MSF. After having studied history at University of Caen (France) and international relations at Paris Institute of Political Sciences (France), she worked as a free-lance journalist for the French media for 20 years, while doing casual assignments for Doctors Without Borders/MSF. Since 1999, as Director of Studies, she has been in charge of the Speaking Out Case Studies project for MSF. She is also developing other projects with the objective of building a documented history of MSF in various fields such as operational choices, humanitarian diplomacy, evolution of the institution.

For over twenty years, Laurence Binet has been sifting through the MSF archives. Her in-depth research has been compiled into the Speaking Out Case Studies series, which provides primary source evidence of decisions taken by the group during critical moments such as the Ethiopian famine, Rwanda and Zaire during and after the genocide, Somalia in the early 1990s, Chechnya in the early days of Putin, and others.

In a discussion moderated by Robin Kirk, faculty co-chair of the Duke Human Rights Center at the Franklin Humanities Institute, Binet will address the importance of the case studies for understanding the historical trajectory of MSF as an organization over time. How does a fast-moving and emergency-oriented NGO like MSF make decisions and record its changing policies, interests and growth? How did MSF’s understanding of its own mission change over time? How did its experience in a particular crisis change the way it approached the next crisis? We’ll explore these questions and more.

Free and open to the public. No registration required.

Sponsored by the Forum for Scholars and Publics. Co-sponsored by the Duke Human Rights Center at the Franklin Humanities Institute.


October 29, 2014
12:00 pm - 1:15 pm


011 Old Chem.