The NGO Médecins sans Frontières launched last month a new website, speaking out, to make public some of its major case studies, driven directly from its missions and past struggles. Indeed the international organisation, albeit claiming to be neutral, has a history of public denunciations which it now seeks to openly explain. In addition to directly address how the organisation dealt, for instance, with the threats of eviction from Ethiopia in 1985 after having denounced the population’s forced relocations, those reports could also help interpreting present decisions, such as the closing of all MSF programmes in Somalia last August.
Seven case studies, including Somalia 1991-1993 and Ethiopia 1984-1986, are to be gradually uploaded on the organisation’s new Speaking out website. Compilations of press releases, staff interviews, internal reports, and international news coverage are as many tools to reveal and analyse MSF’s actions and reactions in a spirit of transparency and accountability. These reports are expected to be of great use for MSF staff and humanitarians in general, but also for academics, the public at large and meticulous donors, obviously. It falls right within the usual aggressive communication campaigns that ensure MSF its visibility and financial autonomy.
Moreover, it is especially helpful to academic students and researchers who study humanitarian issues. Indeed, arguing that it is too solicited, I witnessed that the organisation’s Paris office does not easily grant interviews.