FEEDBACK – The Foundation’s Talks and Debates: Humanitarian action put to the test by ethics

Posted by: on Apr 7, 2015 | No Comments

For the very first edition of the Foundation’s Talks and Debates, Jean-François Mattei, former French Minister of Health, Family and Disability and President of the French Red Cross from 2004 to 2013, presented his take on humanitarian action when it is put to the test by ethics.

Interact with our peers, expand our horizon, foster internal debate, innovation and critical thinking in the fields of ethics and politics, all fall within the mandate of Handicap International Foundation. To this extent, in April 2015, the Foundation started regularly inviting experts in order to discuss a specific issue during what was to be called “the Foundation’s Talks and Debates”.

Held at Handicap International’s headquarters in Lyon, the Foundation’s Talks and Debates are for each and everyone to enjoy whether they are permanent staff members, volunteers, interns, working at headquarters level, within one of our National Associations or in the field.

Therefore, each Talk and Debate is recorded, either subtitled or dubbed in English, and made available to all on this blog (ENG versionFR version).

On April 7, 2015, the Foundation held the very first edition of its Talks and Debates to discuss the issue of ethics in the presence of Professor Jean-François Mattei, former French Minister of Health, Family and Disability and President of the French Red Cross from 2004 to 2013.

Prof. Jean-François Mattei at Handicap International Foundation's first edition of its Talks and Debates. © Amandine Rave / Handicap International

Prof. Jean-François Mattei at Handicap International Foundation’s first edition of its Talks and Debates. © Amandine Rave / Handicap International

Prof. Mattei took this opportunity to present its latest book, Humanitarian action put to the test by ethics, in which he calls for further integration of the question of ethics into the everyday practice of humanitarian workers. This is all the more important, according to him, insofar as aid workers now evolve in an ever-changing environment, with technological, economic or geopolitical transformations, which put our effectiveness, efficiency, credibility, if not our independence to the test.

Then how do we seize on this issue of ethics and draw on it? Do we draft objective ethical guidelines, a code of conduct or a guide to good ethical practices, which should be strictly respected  and applied under any circumstances ?

According to Prof. Mattei, surely not. Ethics is all about questioning oneself: one’s practice, one’s procedures, one’s doctrine, etc. Hence, to question one’s work and practices, to acknowledge the existing tensions between conflicting imperatives or to set out a process of discernment in the pursuit of what is ethically just constitutes the key to an ethically sound approach to humanitarian action.

 


 

To learn more about some of the ethical dilemmas Prof. Mattei had to cope with when presiding over the French Red Cross, his take on ethics and humanitarian action or the work and contribution Handicap International has made to integrate ethics into the organization’s mindset, please watch the very first edition of the Foundation’s Talks and Debates here.

Pour visionner la première édition des Causeries de la Fondation et en savoir plus sur les dilemmes éthiques rencontrés par le Prof. Jean-François Mattei au cours de sa présidence de la Croix-Rouge française, sa vision de l’éthique et de l’action humanitaire où le travail de Handicap International en la matière, cliquez ici.