Médecins Sans Frontières provides assistance to populations in distress, to victims of natural or man-made disasters and to victims of armed conflict. They do so irrespective of race, religion, creed or political convictions.Image © Anna Surinyach/MSF
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.Image © Stephan Grosse Rueschkamp
Members undertake to respect their professional code of ethics and maintain complete independence from all political, economic or religious powers.Image © Matteo Bianchi Fasani
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.Image © Borja Ruiz Rodriguez/MSF
MSF offers assistance to people based on need. It doesn’t matter which country they are from, which religion they belong to, or what their political affiliations are. MSF gives priority to those in the most serious and immediate danger.
MSF's decision to offer assistance is based on their evaluation of medical needs, independent of political, economic or religious interests. MSF's independence is rooted in their funding; over 95 per cent comes from individual private donors giving small amounts. MSF strives to freely evaluate needs, access populations without restriction, and to directly deliver the aid they provide.
MSF does not take sides in armed conflicts nor support the agendas of warring parties. Sometimes MSF is not present on all sides to the conflict; this may be because access is denied to MSF, or due to insecurity, or because the main needs of the population are already covered.
Neutrality is not synonymous with silence. MSF's proximity to people in distress implies a duty to raise awareness on their plight to ultimately help improve their situation. MSF may seek to bring attention to extreme need and suffering, when access to lifesaving medical care is hindered, when their teams witness extreme acts of violence, when crises are neglected, or when the provision of aid is abused.
MSF takes responsibility of accounting for their actions to their patients and donors, and being transparent on the choices they make. Evaluations, critical reviews and debate on their field practices, their public positioning and on wider humanitarian issues, are necessary to improve what they do.