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Doctors Without Boundaries

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So you're a paediatrician who volunteers for MSF. You go to Darfur and ...

Beyond his work as a healer, Erlich was able to help document the genocide by providing children in the camps with paper and crayons they used to make drawings and smuggling them out of the camps. Over 150 of these children's drawings show disturbing images of raids on villages by the "Janjaweed". Several of the drawings include soldiers wearing Sudanese uniforms which may be used to implicate the government in the genocide. These drawings have gone "on tour" throughout the country to enhance awareness among the general public and have been used as evidence in the Sudanese war crimes cases being brought before the ICC.

I have little time for the Sudanese government's claim that it has kicked out 13 NGOs for "spying". The evidence is likely to be thin at best. But passing on your evidence to the ICC? Not very clever. Nor is publishing details on the website of an advocacy organisation for which you work.


 This is MSF's official position:
"Medecins Sans Frontieres has adopted a binding internal policy refraining from any cooperation with the International Criminal Court. Any actions taken by Dr. Jerry Ehrlich to cooperate with the ICC were in violation of this policy and done so completely independent of MSF and without any support whatsoever from the organization." 

1 Comment

Peter | March 14, 2009 2:06 PM | Reply


It is a dilemma.

1/ As a human, and even more as a humanitarian, you should protect your fellow human being. When working in an area as Darfur, your conscience should guide you to do whatever you can to em-better the living conditions (and surviving conditions) of the people you work with. If this is providing evidence to the ICC, so be it.

If you don't do that, you become an accomplice to genocide, in my view.

2/ As an employee, and particularly in the situation of and aid worker, you are morally obliged to ensure nothing you do can damage the organisation. In this case this is the more so, as if your actions have consequences in which your organisation can operate in a logistically, security and politically very complex and challenging situation, you will indirectly make the aid provision more difficult, thus endangering the livelihood of those you want to protect.

So it becomes a balance between the two.

In my mind, the right thing to have done in this situation, would have been to provide the evidence, but to separate my personal actions as much as possible from the organisation I work for, and to keep unanimous.

What do you think?