Homework Help | Doctors without Borders Opposes the Realist School of Thought

The focus of this essay is how Doctors without Borders opposes the realist school of thought. Focus is primarily on the rules that the organisation ascribes to and how its actions reflect a clear deviation from realism to liberalism. As such, part one of the essay focuses on the organisation and its core mandate. It looks at how Doctors without Borders has endeavored to ensure that remains true to its core purpose. Reference is made to different projects and how Doctors without Borders acted when faced with a number of challenges that affected their core rule to be a neutral party in conflicts.

Part two focuses on the conflict issues that have arisen based on some of the actions and decisions that Doctors without Borders have taken. This is done in comparison to the realist school of thought with an aim to reflect how divergent the organisation is from the realist school of thought, which propagates self-interest.

The final part is the conclusion, which provides a summary of all the issues highlighted in part one and two and a clear leaning towards liberalism by doctors without borders. This school of thought is largely ascribes to freedom and tolerance (Moseley, n.d.). The modern liberal accepts rights against the person as well as rights to services such as education and healthcare. Liberalism promotes tolerance rather than parochial prejudices. It focuses on the propagation of peaceful coexistence rather than the elevation of one school of thought over another in a state. Liberalism advocates for a government that permits the individual to pursue life in a manner that they see fit within a neutral framework. This neutral framework is one core reason why critics challenge liberalism (Moseley, n.d.).

Doctors without borders

Doctors without borders is an organization that is largely recognized using the French version of its name (Medicens Sans Frontiers). It was created in 1971 as an organization whose core purpose was to provide healthcare services to victims of political conflicts such as wars, genocide, and other politically driven conflict that leads to the violation of human rights. The organisation has long stood on the principle that it is a neutral party when it comes to state conflicts of any nature. However, the line has become all the more uncertain as the years have gone by. One of its physicians first broke this rule back in 1977 by denouncing Cambodia’s Khmer for committing mass murder of its own people (Gugliotta, 2013). The organization’s rules which are against taking sides or bearing witness have been the source of much debate, considering the environment that the humanitarian dilemma that the doctor faced was obvious. Do you keep quiet so that you can help the victims or do you speak put and lose access to those that need your help? For over 40 years, the MSF has tried to have it both ways. When it began adopting this approach, it was fairly easy since ninety percent of the people that are displaced in the world were escaping from militant socialist governments. Relief groups, at the time, shared the same views as the Western democracies. However, after the Soviet Union fell, the politics became more complicated and this complicated matters for relief groups.

Unlike before, aid now became humanitarian relief aimed at serving a particular political agenda. While the organisation has attempted to maintain that it is a neutral party, it has been unsuccessful in convincing nations of the same. Whereas some view them as leftist hippies, others view them as colonial imperialists out to secure power and control over nations that are in a vulnerable state. The organisation has been known to also suffer loss in many instances even though it attempts to steer clear of the international conflict in a country. Such was the case in 2004 when they pulled out of Afghanistan after five of their aid workers were murdered by the Taliban and the government did nothing to seek justice.

Such cases have been on the rise especially in recent years with the increased risk of terrorism and the continuation of multiple conflicts in different parts of the world. However, rather than choose to bow out MSF has gone as far as to negotiate with criminals and rebels. They at times choose to ignore the wrong doings of such groups so that aid workers can be able to save lives. One such action was MSF agreeing to pay an Al-Qaeda affiliated militia a registration fee of $10,000 per project to be able to continue its operations in war-torn Somalia. To remain in Yemen, MSF agreed to apologize to the government for listing the country as one of the top ten humanitarian crises in 2009. While the listing may be true, MSF agreed to those terms to be able to save lives.

Clearly, MSF is not shy about actions on its part that may be viewed as questionable. In fact, it chooses to be the one to declare its own actions. The amazing thing is even though it has been involved in such negotiations, which would seem to be interfering with the conflict between nations or in a nation; the organisation continues to receive massive support from donors. In addition, government, belligerents, and guerrillas seem indifferent to their actions as they have not used this as ammunition to attack the organisation. It seems that the world is more tolerant when evil is done for the greater good as opposed to when evil is done to achieve destruction and death. While this is an approach that MSF is comfortable with, other organizations of a similar nature are not such as Oxfam (Gugliotta, 2013).

The organization’s commitment to save lives is admirable. Five years after leaving Afghanistan, MSF went back and opened a project in a Taliban controlled area and one that is government controlled. Amazingly, both sides were willing to tolerate their presence as they claimed it demonstrated the MSF’s concern for the Afghani people. In addition, Doctors without Borders seeks to help nations to administer not only healthcare but also education and environmental problems (Dooley, 2014).
MSF seeks to promote the development of global civil society through advancing ideologies such as freedom of speech, the right to life and freedom of the press. The fact that they do this in areas where security is wanting reflects their commitment to the propagation of human rights in the world. Such organisations challenge the sovereignty of a state to some extent as they take on roles that should otherwise be performed by the state. Some critics have argued that there is no such thing as independence. Instead, what exists is a controlled means of dependence where a state chooses the kind of relationships it will sustain (Gugliotta, 2013).

Being a first-hand witness to the conflicts and atrocities that occur in different parts of the world owing to a need for power and influence by the conflicting parties, MSF has amassed a wealth of knowledge in humanitarian law and greatly contributes to the development of the same in different parts of the world (Doctors Without Borders, 2015). This shows that such organisations function in a much greater capacity than that of healthcare and aid providers but that they influence the development of international humanitarian law and human rights all over the world.

The benefits and opportunities that are associated with being part of MSF are some of the reasons why the organisation is still able to secure funding to support its activities and why doctors from all over the world are willing to go to nations where their lives are at risk. MSF has a flexible structure that allows field workers to either sign up for a particular mission or take on a number of missions in different periods (Doctors Without Borders, 2015). It accommodates doctors that feel they want to make dedicate their lives to working at MSF full time and those that are willing to be temporary aid workers. This allows it to attract a wide pool of professionals in the medical industry.
It als

o offers various kinds of trainings to its field workers to develop their knowledge and skills further and ensure that they are able to be effective in the field (Doctors Without Borders, 2015). As such, MSF is able to meet the most critical needs of people that it offers aid to. In many cases, these people tend to be in dire need of specialized medical treatment and support professionals. Trainings on offer range from language training to programs on special medical treatments to leadership and negotiation skills.

The organisation offers its employees certain benefits apart from a salary. These include insurance, upkeep, accommodation, peer support network, psychological support, transportation, assistance in application of work permits and visas and many more (Doctors Without Borders, 2015).

How does it oppose the realist school of thought

Self-interest is the underlying factor of realism. MSF endeavors to display selflessness through its willingness to go where no one else is willing to go in order to save lives. The organisation is willing to uphold this core principle to the point that it is willing to break certain ethical considerations so as to achieve its end goal even though it costs it a great deal in terms of resources and image. Rather than choose a side to support in a conflict, MSF chooses to save lives on both sides of the field. While this has earned it a reputation as an organisation that is out to uphold human rights, it has cost the organisation a great deal of resources which in some cases have included the loss of lives.

That brings us to another question that MSF has had to grapple with. Should military forces be dispatched to a foreign country to save the larger population from oppression, famine, massacre or famine (Weissman, 2010)? This question has sparked a great deal of interest in the recent past. The idea of using military forces to protect civilian and aid workers is a controversial one that for many advocacy groups, academics and policy makers. In the 1990s, the deployment of the military to rescue populations that are in danger was justified under the humanitarian right to intervene.it has also been viewed as a duty by some. In today’s political atmosphere, this action is debated as the responsibility to protect(R2P). The term was developed in 2001 by a panel that was part of the international commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty (ICISS) (Weissman, 2010).

The doctrine that ICISS has developed goes beyond the latest theory of humanitarian intervention that Bernard Kouchner and Merio Bettati developed in the late 1980s (Weissman, 2010). The ICISS doctrine is limited in scope as it only considers crimes of genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. R2P encompasses the prevention of conflicts as well as the rebuilding of societies. As such, the doctrine supports the use of actions that are diplomatic, economic, judicial, social, political, or military to meet this end. The question that many now ask is does this not interfere with the sovereignty of a nation? After all, national governments are charged with the responsibility of protecting their citizens. When international organisations and other organs such as MSF interfere, does this not reflect a lack of the element of sovereignty? The nation is not asked whether the MSF can set up shop in the rebel side as well as the government side so that they can save lives. This question is normally responded to with the diplomatic response that international intervention is warranted when the government fails in its responsibility to protect its citizens and the degree of intervention can go as far as a declaration of war on those perpetrating violence against civilians.

The R2P doctrine is supported by militant networks, international lawyers, human rights NGOs, liberalists and humanitarian organizations. A limitation placed on this doctrine is that it can only be authorized by the United Nations Security Council. The rule is on its way to acquiring customary international law status (Weissman, 2010). However, considering that different world conflicts are characterized by the lack of respect of such laws, one wonders whether this would improve international humanitarian law and the respect accorded to it by nations all over the world.

On the other side, an argument that MSF seeks to promote its own agenda can also be argued based on the organizations past actions. When staffs choose to take sides and give an opinion that is biased towards one side or when the organisation supported the Western nations against the Soviet Union, they clearly chose to not be neural. This has resulted in the erosion of boundaries that were once thought certain and clear-cut as they were generated from the rules on which the organisation operates. As such it can be said that MSF does have realism tendencies and these have tipped the balance in a number of occasions in its history.

Liberal school of thought

Liberalism ascribes to freedom and tolerance (Moseley, n.d.). The modern liberal accepts rights against the person as well as rights to services such as education and healthcare. Dworkin, a proponent of liberalism claims that justice is the core focus of this school of thought (Moseley, n.d.). As such, it is opposite from realism which is founded on self-interest and power. Liberalism focuses on equality and equity. Distribution of resources in a state that is founded on this school of thought is characterized by selflessness and a laissez faire attitude. This is a stark contrast to nations whose economies are based on capitalism. An example of such a political system was Tanzania under President Julius Nyerere in the late 20th century. Modern liberalism is however criticized by classical liberals who believe that people are neither born equal nor can be made equal (Moseley, n.d.).

Modern liberals lean towards an interventionist government so they place more importance on the State’s ability to prduce the right political climate that push for reform projects (Moseley, n.d.). Liberalism promotes tolerance rather than parochial prejudices. It focuses on the propagation of peaceful coexistence rather than the elevation of one school of thought over another in a state. Liberalism advocates for a government that permits the individual to pursue life in a manner that they see fit within a neutral framework. This neutral framework is one core reason why critics challenge liberalism (Moseley, n.d.). A neutral framework cannot exist in a demcracy because everyone is meant to have the liberty to choose their ideologies and beliefs without criticism. Such a system leaves a vacuum in governance which allows for the breeding of wrong ideologies which are a setback to the progress that democracy is founded on.

Conclusion

Those that ascribe to the realism school of thought tend to be highly skeptical about the ethical norms and how they influence the way states relate. In their eyes, national politics is the realm of law and authority while international policy lacks such limitations and is as such characterized by active or potential conflict among states (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 2013). This is in contrast with the liberal school of thought which focuses on cooperation or the formation of partnerships for the good of the greater majority (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 2013).

Realism has contributed to the generation of political conflicts and the need for international organisations such as MSF to intervene. While such organisations have been criticized of violation infringing on public international law such as the concept of sovereignty of a state, they have proven that their presence is necessary to protect the rights of innocent civilians and to save lives. Their actions have at times been driven by self-interest, as was the case during the cold war when they picked a side.
MSF has long stood on the principle that it is a neutral party when it comes to state conflicts of any nature. However, the line has become all the more uncertain as the years have gone by. One of its physicians first broke this rule back in 1977 by denouncing Cambodia’s Khmer for committing mass murder of its own people (Gugliotta, 2013). The organization’s rules which are against taking sides or bearing witness have been the source of much debate, considering the environment that the humanitarian dilemma that the doctor faced was obvious. Do you keep quiet so that you can help the victims or do you speak put and lose access to those that need your help? For over 40 years, the MSF has tried to have it both ways. When it began adopting this approach, it was fairly easy since ninety percent of the people that are displace d in the world were escaping from militant socialist governments. Relief groups, at the time, shared the same views as the Western democracies. However, after the Soviet Union fell, the politics became more complicated and this complicated matters for relief groups.

Being a first-hand witness to the conflicts and atrocities that occur in different parts of the world owing to a need for power and influence by the conflicting parties, MSF has amassed a wealth of knowledge in humanitarian law and greatly contributes to the development of the same in different parts of the world (Doctors Without Borders, 2015). This shows that such organisations function in a much greater capacity than that of healthcare and aid providers but that they influence the development of international humanitarian law and human rights all over the world.

The MSF rules emphasize on neutrality. While this may not necessarily be the case at all times, the spirit behind their actions in the few instances when they have chosen tactics that would be criticized as prejudicial to one party have all been to achieve one end; the saving of lives. MSF is dedicated to ensuring that it fulfills its core mandate and as such chooses to allow guerrillas and insurgents to cause destruction to a state or criminal organisations to conduct their activities as long as they allow them to save lives. While many have argued that this is not a neutral stance, at the end of the day MSF will separate itself from what the world considers as right or legal if it will allow it to fulfill its core mission. Nothing says liberal more than this core motive.