Humanitarian challenges

Volunteers and responsibility for risk-taking: Changing interpretations of the Charter of Médecins Sans Frontières

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MSF's Research Unit on Humanitarian Stakes and Practices (UREPH) is pleased to announce the publication of the article "Volunteers and responsibility for risk-taking: Changing interpretations of the Charter of Médecins Sans Frontières" by Caroline Abu Sa'Da and Xavier Crombé, published in the International Review of the Red Cross (Vol. 97, No. 897/898, pp. 133–155).

The Charter of Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), the guiding document for all of the organisation's members, states in the final paragraph that volunteers "understand the risks and dangers of the missions they carry out". Through a review of the different periods in the history of MSF, this article analyses the changing interpretations that the organisation's successive leaders have given to this reference to the acceptance of risk by individuals. The professionalisation and expansion of MSF, coupled with its diversifying volunteer base and the changing international environment, have required constant renegotiation of the balance between institutional and individual responsibility for the dangers faced in the field. No doubt this process is far from over.