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Kouchner, Bernard

KOUCHNER, BERNARD

KOUCHNER, BERNARD (1939– ), French humanitarian. Born in Avignon, the son of a doctor, Kouchner qualified as a physician and specialized in digestive endoscopy. From 1968, he was sent on specialized missions to many parts of the Third World. In 1971, he founded the organization "Doctors without Frontiers" which he headed until 1979 and which sent doctors and nurses to disaster areas throughout the world, and in 1980 founded "Doctors of the World" which he headed until 1988. He also originated the "Boat for Vietnam" project which brought succor and hospitalization to thousands of refugees in the China Seas area. Other projects in which he was involved included "A plane for Salvadorian refugees" and "International Committee against Piracy."

He was secretary of state in the Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment in the first government of Michel Rocard; in 1988 he was appointed secretary of state for humanitarian action in the Prime Minister's Office; in 1991, secretary of state in the Foreign Ministry; and in 1992–93 was minister of health and humanitarian action in the Socialist government. As a minister, he was personally involved in the operations to aid the victims of the wars in Yugoslavia (flying into besieged Dubrovnik to negotiate the cessation of its destruction), Somalia, and Kurdistan. He achieved an international reputation for his bold initiatives, and his view of "the right of intervention" of the international community in humanitarian matters was approved by a un decision.

Kouchner is the author of many books, among them Le devoir d'ingérence and Le Malheur des Autres, and has received many awards including the Prix Europa for his activities on behalf of human rights.

[Gideon Kouts]

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