The Practical Guide to Humanitarian Law

« Calling things by the wrong name adds to the affliction of the world. » Albert Camus.


Last modification date Nov. 4, 2015, 10:10 a.m. by msf

Médecins Sans Frontières is a medical humanitarian organisation, created in 1971 in Paris by doctors and journalists.

Since more than forty years, MSF delivers emergency aid to people affected by armed conflict, epidemics, natural disasters and exclusion from healthcare. MSF's work is based on humanitarian principles. We are committed to bringing quality medical care to people caught in crisis, regardless of race, religion or political affiliation.

MSF operates independently. We conduct our own evaluations on the ground to determine people’s needs. More than 90 per cent of our overall funding comes from millions of private sources, not governments. MSF is neutral. We do not take sides in armed conflicts, we provide care on the basis of need, and we push for independent access to victims of conflict as required under international humanitarian law.

United by the same charter, the MSF teams are composed of medical, logistical and administrative staff, of several nationalities, including both expatriates and locally hired staff. These teams deliver their help in the context of humanitarian action and medical ethics.

MSF medical teams often witness violence and neglect in the course of their work, largely in regions that receive scant international attention. At times, MSF may speak out publicly in an effort to bring a forgotten crisis to public attention, to alert the public to abuses occurring beyond the headlines, to criticise the inadequacies of the aid system, or to challenge the diversion of humanitarian aid for political interests.

MSF rejects the idea that poor people deserve third-rate medical care and strives to provide high-quality care to patients. In 1999, when MSF was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, the organisation announced the money would go towards raising awareness of and fighting against neglected diseases. Through the Access Campaign, and in partnership with the Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative, this work has helped lower the price of HIV/AIDS treatment and stimulated research and development for medicines to treat malaria and neglected diseases like sleeping sickness and kala azar.

The Médecins Sans Frontières charter
Médecins Sans Frontières provides assistance to populations in distress, to victims of natural or manmade disasters and to victims of armed conflict. They do so irrespective of race, religion, creed or political convictions.

Médecins Sans Frontières observes neutrality and impartiality in the name of universal medical ethics and the right to humanitarian assistance and claims full and unhindered freedom in the exercise of its functions.

Members undertake to respect their professional code of ethics and maintain complete independence from all political, economic or religious powers.

As volunteers, members understand the risks and dangers of the missions they carry out and make no claim for themselves or their assigns for any form of compensation other than that which the association might be able to afford them.

Contact us:

Médecins Sans Frontières

8, rue Saint Sabin 
75011 – Paris 

Tel: +33 (0)1 40 21 29 29