In accordance with its Charter, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) provides assistance to populations in distress, among them the sick and the wounded in conflict zones. Yet MSF’s presence in war zones is not a given, space is not set aside for humanitarian action; it must be negotiated. To gain acceptance, MSF must demonstrate on a daily basis that its only goal is to assist victims of conflict, and that it has no political, economic or other motivation.
MSF repeatedly invokes and puts into practice the fundamental humanitarian principles: impartiality, by assisting people according to need, without discrimination: independence, in its decision-making and its choice of resources; and neutrality, by not taking sides. These principles are key operational tools, and respect for them is only possible through interaction with the parties to the conflict.