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Humanitarian Negotiations Revealed: The MSF Experience (Columbia/Hurst) Paperback – January 24, 2012

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Editorial Reviews


These stories and reflections illustrate the tragic humanitarian paradox: to act morally, one can't always be principled. Neutrality and impartial¬ity disappear into the pantheon of defunct ideals, as Médecins Sans Frontières defends a ro¬bust opportunism in the best sense of the word: reality-based situation¬al ethics.

(Dirk Salomons, director, Program for Humanitarian Affairs at the School of International Public Affairs, Columbia University)

This collection represents a maturing of Médecins Sans Frontières's view of the world. Theirs is now a nuanced pragmatic approach which keeps its eye firmly on the goal of alleviating suffering but understands the need to compromise and invent, choosing the best possible path to reach the goal.

(Peter Walker, director, Feinstein International Center, Tufts University)

A highly readable and challenging appraisal of what it means to be a humanitarian actor in today's rebalancing world. With refreshing hon¬esty, it explores the thin line that humanitarian agencies tread between saving lives and supporting oppressors. This brave and informative book reconfirms Médecins Sans Frontières as an organization that thinks as well as acts.

(Mark Duffield, director, Global Insecurities Centre, University of Bristol)

The book brings out the perennial dangers of silence and stresses the continuing need to highlight the hidden victims of 'just wars.' It also exemplifies Médecins Sans Frontières's tradition of self-criticism and internal disagreement, traditions now more valuable than ever.

(David Keen, London School of Economics and Political Science)

the most detailed and self-critical inside account of the deals aid agencies are forced to negotiate, often with groups and regimes which abuse human rights, to continue their work.

(Peter Beaumont Guardian)


This is a very valuable book. It shows one of the world's great humanitarian organizations thinking aloud about the difficult choices it faces as it struggles to save and protect human life. The tone of Humanitarian Negotiations Revealed is exceptional for its frank and public self-scrutiny. In this respect, it breaks new ground and reveals a truly reflective humanitarian movement that is not afraid to learn in public. Its honesty and the insights into humanitarian history it offers make the book an important reference text in humanitarian studies, international relations, and organizational theory. And of course it will fascinate those who continue to be intrigued by the particular aura and mystique of Médecins Sans Frontières.

(Hugo Slim, University of Oxford, author of Killing Civilians: Method, Madness, and Morality in War)

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Product Details

  • Series: Columbia/Hurst
  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press (January 24, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0231703155
  • ISBN-13: 978-0231703154
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.5 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,668,201 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By avid fan on November 22, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
more of a report than a narrative. somewhat repetitive, i was better informed after reading this book. it offered some very interesting insights about providing humanitarian aid that are never covered in news stories.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Excellent read. The book is straight forward and shows the complexity of involvement of this organization in the places they go to help.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By BettyZ on September 30, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I came across this book after watching the documentary "Triage" Excellent read for anyone interested in World health Care Crisis
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