22 Sep 16 13 Dec 19


Dialogues is a series of discussions aimed at promoting debate on some of the pressing issues facing humanitarian action.

Most of the issues discussed in this series of publications were first explored at discussion evenings arranged by MSF UK.

Please click on the covers to download and read each Dialogue as a pdf.

Dialogues 12

Dialogue 12: Is resilience redefining the objectives of the UK humanitarian aid sector?

Resilience is the new buzzword in aid circles. Indeed, many non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have incorporated the term into all areas of their operations, including in job descriptions and programme objectives. However, it is difficult to arrive at a common understanding of the term, as it has been applied to a myriad of fields.

Dialogues 11

Dialogue 11: Living in uncertainty - what future for Sudan and South Sudan?

Nima Elbagir, international correspondent for CNN, Daniel Large, Fellow of the Rift Valley Institute, Jose Hulsenbek Mansaray, former MSF head of mission for Darfur, Gillian Lusk, freelance writer specialising in Sudan and South Sudan and Wendy James, recently retired as Professor of Social Anthropology at Oxford, discuss current issues facing the Sudans.

Dialogues 10

Dialogue 10: Blind Aid - relief efforts inside Somalia

Joe Belliveau, operations manager for MSF in Somalia, Abdurahman Sharif, coordinator of the Muslim Charities Forum, Laura Hammond, of the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), and Samir El Hawary, of the Overseas Development Institute (ODI), discuss humanitarian access inside Somalia, along with the role of Muslim NGOs, the involvement of the Somali diaspora in relief efforts and the effects of counter-terrorism policies on the delivery of aid.

Dialogues 9

Dialogue 9: International justice - pragmatism or principle?

Dr Phil Clarke, from the Centre for Socio-Legal Studies, Fabrice Weissman, Research Director with MSF-France, Kate Mackintosh, Head of Humanitarian Affairs with MSF-Holland and Damien Lewis, journalist and author, discuss how to address the tensions that exist between humanitarian action and values.

Dialogues 8

Dialogue 8: Responsibility to protect

MSF UK organised two roundtable discussions to gather various perspectives on the history, principles and practice of the responsibility to protect (R2P) doctrine. R2P relates to states' responsibilities towards its population and to the international community’s responsibility to protect populations "from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity."

Dialogues 7

Dialogue 7: Co-operation with private security and military companies

Dr Dominick Donald, an academic expert and chief analyst for Aegis Research and Intelligence, Nick Downie, Head of Security for the Emergencies Team at Save the Children Fund, and Dr Kevin O’Brien, Director of Alesia PSI Consultants discuss the issue of humanitarian organisations and their cooperation with private military and security companies.

Dialogues 6

Dialogue 6: Nutrition

MSF nutritionist Valerie Captier, Paluku Bahwere of Valid International, Steve Wiggins of Rural Policy and Governance Group (ODI) and Jean-Michel Grand of Action Contre Le Faim discuss the causes of and approaches to tackling malnutrition.

Dialogues 5

Dialogue 5: Independence and innovation

Does independence contribute to, or impede, innovation in the field of humanitarian action? What factors favour innovation? And can the humanitarian sector be considered innovative? Xavier Crombé of MSF, and Ajaz Ahmed Khan and Willem van Eekelen of Islamic Relief discuss the issue.

Dialogues 4

Dialogue 4: Protection

Marc DuBois, Head of Humanitarian Affairs, MSF and Katy Barnett, Emergency Protection Advisor, Save the Children debate protecting civilians in conflict zones. Are NGOs capable of filling the 'protection gap'? Should they even try to?

Click here for an updated and expanded version of this Dialogue discussion

Dialogues 3

Dialogue 3: Fragile states

The term ‘fragile’, as opposed to ‘rogue’, implies weakness and the need for assistance. It suggests that a humanitarian
intervention might be appropriate for an abused or neglected population. In this discussion Zoe Marriage of the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), argues that NGOs have become part of the political scene, and should therefore proceed with extreme caution. Christian Captier, executive director, MSF Switzerland, maintains that taking too monolithic an approach carries risks and that NGOs working outside the political sphere have an essential role to play.

Dialogues 2

Dialogue 2: Dilemmas of handover

In this discussion, Gorik Ooms, MSF executive director, questions development agencies’ attempts to combine sustainability and the medical elements of the Millennium Development Goals. Dr Egbert Sondorp, of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), examines whether humanitarian aid is a last resort in response to a ‘failure’ of some sort and questions what should happen when the ‘failure’ is rectified.

Dialogues 1

Dialogue 1: Whose standards?

In this discussion, Marine Buissonnière, MSF international secretary, outlines the initiatives that have been launched since the Rwanda joint evaluation and questions their success. Maurice Herson, of the Active Learning Network for Accountability and Performance in Humanitarian Action (ALNAP), maintains, on the other hand, that the aid system needs cooperation and standardisation as much as any other professional sector.