Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), or Doctors without Borders, was started by a few doctors and journalists in the 1970s. Today, MSF is a humanitarian actor to be reckoned with, with its emergency medicine expertise and its unique interpretation of the neutrality and independence principles. The organization has acted unconventionally in numerous humanitarian crises and criticized peer organizations in the sector. This nonconformity has never harmed MSF; the organization is highly respected by the general public. This chapter analyzes how MSF as a principled provocateur could evolve into a public guardian of humanitarian values. We posit that MSF’s controversial acts have become an integral part of its reputation; it is expected to go against the grain. However, in order to be credible, the organization works hard to uphold its ‘volunteer and humanitarian spirit’ and strives to be an effective and professional organization.
|Title of host publication||Guardians of Public Value|
|Subtitle of host publication||How Public Organisations Become and Remain Institutions|
|Editors||Arjen Boin, Lauren Fahy, Paul 't Hart|
|Number of pages||31|
|Publication status||Published - 2020|