Letter to the International President, OCs, Partner Sections, and Associations - 2021 Report on Abuse and Discrimination
The 2021 report is here: https://decolonisemsf.onuniverse.com/dignity-at-msf
To the International President, OC General Directors, Partner Sections, and Association Coordinators,
We write as the co-authors of Dignity at MSF, Decolonise MSF’s first report on abuse and discrimination.
Dignity at MSF is, to our knowledge, the first volunteer and survivor-led report on these subjects within the movement and the first to successfully engage MSF’s global and historical staff base. In total, our survey consulted 359 respondents, including current and former staff, community stakeholders, and external organizations.
We had multiple objectives in developing this report:
- To deepen institutional knowledge on abuse, discrimination, and violence at MSF and explore issues not currently captured by official data collection. The report details granular experiences of abuse and discrimination, perceptions of progress within the movement, satisfaction with existing reporting channels, and institutional confidence in MSF’s current abilities to tackle anti-racism and anti-discrimination.
- To directly hear from those who have been harmed during their experience with or at MSF, and who may not be - or cannot be - currently part of MSF’s formal associative structure. These include survivors of abuse and discrimination, former staff, community members, and partner NGO members.
- To obtain feedback from stakeholders about how the organization should move forward. This comes at a critical period where questions on structural inequalities, the nature of MSF’s operational model, and unfulfilled commitments from the 2006 La Mancha agreement loom large once again.
- To illustrate what can be learned through bottom-up approaches, even with minimal resources. The survey and report were developed without compensation and only at the cost of volunteers’ time.
- To promote transparency and shared understanding of the issues at stake. Progress can only be made if everyone can access and engage this information directly. The report already has been shared widely by MSF staff and is available online on our website: https://decolonisemsf.onuniverse.com/dignity-at-msf
Our report notes the limitations of our survey sample and methodology. We do not claim our sample is fully representative or that our survey questions did not provoke bias. Regardless of its limitations, the report attempts to provide a snapshot that is missing from current institutional analysis, namely the voices of those who have witnessed or experienced harm. Their views are central to understanding the nature of this problem within MSF.
In submitting this report to you, we ask for:
- Formal acknowledgement of this report in respect and towards duty of care to the 359 staff and MSF stakeholders who volunteered time to share their experiences, often at significant emotional cost.
- Commitment to investigate and expand on the issues highlighted in this report with the full resources that MSF has available. This should include a unified movement-wide survey, implemented by an independent and external actor, engaging current and former staff, other agencies, and crucially - patients and community members.
- Recognition of, responsibility for, and immediate action on the many implications of these results, which describe significant abuse within the movement, widespread distrust and dissatisfaction with existing accountability processes, experiences of retaliation, and lasting personal and professional consequences for survivors.
One single experience of harm is enough to warrant action. We share this report with you as a statement in support of dignity for those who have faced mistreatment within MSF and suffered from its lasting impacts.
Arnab Majumdar and Monica Mukerjee on behalf of Decolonise MSF