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Objectives and activities

© Robin Meldrum/ MSF

The Research Unit aims to improve the way MSF’s projects are implemented in the field and to participate in the critical reflection on humanitarian and medical action. It aims to give humanitarian workers the means to reflect on their own practices. This is done at two levels: firstly, on concrete problems encountered at the project level and, secondly, on wider stakes concerning dunantist humanitarian action today.


The Research Unit is involved in different types of activities:

  • Long term research projects: ethics and legitimacy of medical action, perception of humanitarian action, population displacement, sexual violence, etc.
  • Support to the field and in determining operational policies: punctual work as requested by operations.
  • Institutional positioning and representation: symposiums, debates, conferences and networking.
  • Teaching and student supervision: Geneva Centre for Education and Research in Humanitarian Action (CERAH), McMaster University, etc.